Sunday, December 7, 2008

Incompetant HMSI !

Not really the usual thing to do at 6am on a Sunday morning. My fear of procrastinating and thereby not doing justice to the respect I have on Honda and to condemn the poor service its dealers offer, especially after the foolish mistake of Planet Honda, which was The Topic of last evening's laugh, eventually made me compose "It", while I still had the fire inside:

The dealer development manager,
Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India limited,

I had a leaky left front fork and I took my Unicorn to the authorised Silicon Honda in lalbagh road, Bangalore. They replaced the oil seal, charged me Rs 410 (190+150+70). Within the next 3 days, oil started leaking from teh top brdge bolt. With this complaint I visited Planet Honda service centre in Chandra layout, Bangalore. The mechanic said it was an oil seal issue and needs to be replaced. Agreeing, I handed over the fork, which I had removed.
Instead of using the T-shaped special tool, with a 10mm square tip and a 6mm Allen key to remove the fork pipe, the mechanic mauled a circlip plier into the oil seal and plucked it out. This inturn hit the chrome tube, cutting a 5mm long, 1 mm wide, 0.22mm deep cut on the tube. He handed over the defective seal to me and I could see NO single damage on the seal except for the circlip cut he had just made. The actual issue was a defective O-ring at the top cup bolt which was leaking oil from the top.
He then bought a new oil-seal from the planet honda stores, which bears the numbers 31-43-10.3 BR2139F ID 22. The worst part is yet to come. He assembles the tube and gave it to me and I put it on my bike with the recommended quantity and grade of fork oil only to see fountains of oil spilling out profusely. I used to lose nearly 3ml of oil in 10km of city riding. Fed up with planet honda, I took the bike back to silicon honda. The 'HMSI trained' technicians, without even removing the dust cover carelessly said, the tube is gone, and I need to replace a tube for Rs. 600. Losing faith on their workmanship, because of their careless attitude, I decided to fix the problem myself. I opened up the fork with the special tool, to find that that "Honda Trained" technician of planet honda had mounted the oil seal in reverse direction. This is The Most Careless kind of mistake any lay-man could afford to do while installing an oil seal, not mentioning of 'Honda technicians' in India. I later bought another new set for Rs. 190 (a third set of oil seal for the left fork) and installed it myself and I'm happy about my 'workmanship'.
This is not all. One year ago, Silicon Honda digs a 4mm deep dent on my fuel tank, when I had given my bike for wheel truing. When complained, they say it existed much before, which was an obvious, but not so good reply to someone who can tell the dimension and location of every single scratch on his bike, blindfold. Every evening I see people shouting at Planet Honda Chandra layout, their Blood pressure soaring high, their veins in their forehead swollen with blood, complaining of poor workmanship.
This is Not the quality of work we customers expect from you, atleast for the money we pay if not for the Honda brand name. This will spoil the name of Honda in our country I tell you. Honda CBF-150 is a global launched vehicle with excellent performing record as a street commuter bike in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Please dont spoil its name giving it in the hands of such irresponsible and incapable service personnel.
I'm expecting a reply to this query from you, and a promise to improve their quality systems and technical capabilities, failing which, I shall be highlighting this issue in the media, atleast to let out my frustration.

Yours Truly,
Subramanyam N

Friday, November 28, 2008

RIP, pal

I hated you, I ran from you,
Your long black mush, your slimy move,
Your dark brown luster added too.
Mom said you wouldn' come, if I'm good,
Cleaned my place didn't spill my food,
I didn' wanna see you, so did all I could.

I'm a man now big and bold,
I don't believe I did what my mother told,
Though I see you, my spine still turns cold.
You could jump and fly on me,
You are old now and your legs are weak,
You move with the wall to the place you seek.

You could die if I let you go,
Theres poisoned food but you don't know,
Or you could be slayed 'cos you aren't one of us.
I offered you sticks, you climbed on to
I put you out in the rainy night for it wouldn' kill you.
I then slept happy that I saved you.

Its morning now I open the door,
You lie in the water, your back to the floor
Hard to believe your life has end
I really miss you my cockroach friend.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Malenaadu KaravaLi pravasa

In the chat room: GK, Krishna, Pulsar-Abhi, Ajay, Me

9:55 PM GK: i think you guys should be sensible about this, we shouldn't really be going just cause we've planned, we planned just cause this isn't the season to rain.

it rained here in the afternoon, heavily, it's a depression, so, i'm worried

9:56 PM Ajay: no. we planned because we had holidays!

me: only patches of clouds over Bangalore

AJ is right.

10:02 PM ok time for me to get down from my bus.. i ll catch you guys once i reach home.. 10 mins

11:02 PM me: so all drop out?

Pulsar-Abhi: man, that sounds worse than it is

11:03 PM me: yeah

lets watch 'long way round' all over again.. may be thats the best we can do

11:16 PM Ajay: now that i've gone that far, i dont want to miss it

me: ok so AJ.. tell out what your plan is

11:17 PM Ajay: The same one, we meet at hassan at 9.30-10 in Moti Hotel, opposite to bus stand

11:18 PM then lunch

Pulsar-Abhi: maga, ajay we will be screwd in every way possible

by rain

Ajay: Guys vote now , limited offer, vote now !! In or Out

…I could wait no more. The conversation was heading nowhere. I had half a mind to set out alone. We were ten of us, waiting for these holidays for over two months, and a depression in the Arabian Sea was all set to ruin our plans for the road trip.

Various other ideas of making use of these holidays started to pour in! Bangalore-Mysore-Bandipur-Ooti-Madumalai and back. Bangalore-Hubli-Belgaum-Goa and back along an apparently dry route. Goa was fine, but what about the route we take! The places we’d be visiting in this route were beyond hopeless! I still believed there’s nothing like reaching the coast climbing up the Western Ghats and getting down through the forests.. on a bike!

It was more than hard to sink in the thought of not going! Our parents, in the first place, were not very eager to send us out biking into the forests and it had been a hard task to convince them to let us do it. Riding in the rain had never been impossible, just that you have to be a bit more careful of the slipping zappers. Fine, I could afford it.

My mother stopped telling anything more and went to sleep! I sat in front of my monitor reading those chat lines which went on to strengthen the idea of dropping the plan. At this time, there was one more disturbed soul in Ajay which still wanted to go on with the trip. My phone rang at 11:20pm and that was Ajay from Mysore.

“Leave Bangalore tomorrow early morning and we’ll meet you at Hassan by 10:00am”, he said!

So it was two of us now ready to go out in the rain and do what we planned to!

Krishna pinged back to say he’s in too and that made us three. Nothing at all seemed to tire this man! He was all set to ride 400km in the first day, after working full time, the previous night! Good for us. Abhiram, aka Mari, wanted to join in and Rakesh got in too. Now we were five of us. Fifty percent of the total strength had actually no problem riding in the rain! We would have loved to have the rest of the gang too, but priorities made the difference.

I called up all the five at 12:00am to confirm the times, and set off to pack my bag.

“So are you people going?” my mom asked, waking up at a noise I made as I moved my chair.


I went down to start my bike to check the tune of its carburetor, which me and my friend had done the previous day! The bike started fine in cold and the idle stuck to just under 1000rpm. I went to sleep looking forward to see a clear-skied Good-Friday!

I woke up to the alarm early morning and called up Abhiram and Rakesh just to ensure they were up too. We decided to meet up in front of the Bangalore City railway station at 6:20am. The sky did not look impressive at all. It was orange early morning and turned grey as sunlight dawned and no later, it started pouring! I left home at 6:15am and joined them at 6:35, late by fifteen minutes!

I called up Ajay to know his plan and we decided to meet at Hassan by 10:30am. Abhiram was on his new Royal Enfield Machismo -a 500cc beauty and me on my loved machine, a Honda Unicorn. Rakesh rode pillion on the Bullet.

We were soon riding on Rajkumar road to reach Yeswanthpur. Both fuelled our bikes and reached Nelamangala after 25km of riding through the infamous morning traffic jams of Bangalore. We reached the national highway-48, connecting Hassan with Bangalore.

We stopped for breakfast at a highway restaurant after nearly ninety minutes of ride. It was nearly 9:30am now and Hassan was still 110km away. There was downpour again and we had no option but to ride. We rode slow till the rain abated and then had to speed up to make for the delay. Ajay and Krishna were at Hassan when we reached there at 12:00pm. Ajay was on his Yamaha RX-135 and Kitta on his new Pulsar-150.

We all had a light meal and asked the locals, the road to Belur. Belur was close to Hassan -around 30km on a beautiful highway.

We reached Belur by 1:00pm and went around clicking snaps of the Chennakeshava Temple. This temple, known to have been destructed to some extent by Mohammed Ghazni, the remains is still an architectural masterpiece.

We started off from Belur at two. The sky was a pleasant blue now. We got on the road that led to Chikkamagalur.

We were at last happy that the weather was pleasant. In fact it was a perfect weather for a long ride. The road went winding through innumerable plantations and we halted for a small break at 4:00pm in front of, what looked like, a cut section of a mountain. That was actually a very large rock and I wanted to get on it. I went up two steps and found no way of getting back down. I fell back on my feet. We then shot a lot of photos posing with our bikes! Kitta had some chapathis and we all grazed on it for two minutes.

We moved on with our journey from there. The route consisted of continuous curves for the next 20km. We played around with gears with occasional rear brake usage. I must confess these 25km had been the best ride of my lifetime so far.

A friend of mine had scratched the foot pegs on his Unicorn as he maneuvered his bike to encounter the curves of The Chamundi Hill. I too wanted to try that on my bike but never gathered enough courage, as my tyres were thinner than his and I was miles away from dear home! So I placed my foot at the tip of the peg and turned left along one tight curve in 3rd gear. Shrrrrrrrrrrrr… I felt my shoe rub against the road. I was happy! I didn’t try that anymore!

The bullet rode slow during this piece and we three kept together. We halted at Koppa for tea and appreciated each other for this marvelous ride through the Ghats. We had covered 30km in 45 minutes approx. That made an average speed of 45kmph on the mountain!

None actually felt like resting and after a 10 minute break, we started off to Sringeri. It was another 40km away. Sringeri is housed in between the mountains and the ride was uphill for the remaining distance.

It was dark by 6:30pm and the roads were too wet and so, had to ride slow. Our headlights kept picking up fog that had started to blanket the mountains. We reached Sringeri at 7:15pm and parked our bikes to stretch ourselves. Ajay and Krishna went around looking for a room to stay for the night. It was weekend and there were tourists everywhere. They found one room to fit three. We were five and somehow managed to make ourselves comfortable there. We were too exhausted by now to care for comfort. We had our dinner at the Sringeri Shankara Mutta. The dinner was free for public and the place was maintained very clean as well. They offered more than I could eat and the quality of food too was good. We then visited the temple of Sri Sharada Devi, had a small walk, secured our bikes and went to sleep.

The next day began at 6:00am and I went down to see the condition of our bikes. It had rained throughout the night and thankfully the soil below the bikes held up to the load. We cleaned ourselves and set out to visit the temple one more time and the river Thunga. We had a light breakfast in a nearby hotel, warmed our bikes and started off with our trip.

The first place on our agenda was Agumbe. This place is 25km along the road, uphill from Sringeri. The sky was cloudy and as soon as we started off, it started to pour. We carefully managed to click a few snaps here and there and reached Agumbe at 9:30. It was a sight I had never seen before.

My previous trek to Kumaraparvatha had been the best sight so far. I, along with two friends had climbed up the “Bhatthada Raasi” peak by 6:30am and all we did was gaze the depths in silence for fifteen minutes. We were surrounded by clouds from all sides and the first rays of the sun had cleared the way, exposing the landscape below.
Agumbe had more to offer.

Agumbe is the point of highest rainfall in South India and to visit it during a rain was what it took to be wild and one with nature. There were hectares of clouds in front of us, as white as milk and nothing was seen below it. We had a photo session at the view-point and decided to start with our journey. We got down to our bikes and were awed to see that the road was not visible anymore. All the clouds that were on the mountains were now covering the roads. We now had to find a bus or a car and ride behind it to be safe while getting down the hill!

We did find a bus and planned to tail him. It was impossible. He was too fast for us! One small slip on those wet concrete roads would throw us down in no time. So we put our headlights on and honked probably as much as the sparkplugs fired. All we had to do is inform the vehicle from the other side that we were here as there was no way they could see us till they were twenty feet away! We were at the base of that mountain after 18 sharp hairpin bends, through a road as wide as a mini-bus.

We reached Peradur riding for 25 km from Agumbe. We paused to have tea and the people in that hotel were interested in knowing that we had come from Bangalore and Mysore, on motorcycles… in rain!!!

Udupi was still 30km from Peradur. Abhiram had a different plan for himself. One of his uncles stayed in Manipal, 20km from Peradur, and he wanted to visit him. So it was agreed that we would meet Abhiram in the evening on our way to Murudeshwara, where we planned to stay for the night.

With Abhiram gone, Raki rode pillion with Kitta and we reached Manipal by 10:30. I had to refuel and check the pressure of tyres once again. I calculated the mileage of my bike at this point. It had served an overwhelming 50kmpl. Highest number my bike had ever given! We left to Udupi along the very famous NH-17. It had rained heavy and the roads of Udupi were a mess.

We had our lunch at Mitra Samaja hotel, in front of the Shri Krishna Temple. The meal was delicious! A typical South Indian meal, served with a variety of side-dishes and all this for fifteen bucks a plate! Nowhere in the entire city of Bangalore could such a quality package be found, I must say!

We went in to visit the temple and were out in half an hour. We then had plans to visit the Malpe beach. It was still drizzling and we began to like the rain! The beach was a 3km ride from the temple, along a fishermen colony.

Malpe is now famous as one of the cleanest beaches in India. We played around for a while in the sea and left for the fishing harbour. Ferrys plied to and from this harbour to St. Mary’s island. We parked our bikes, took 3 tickets for Rs. 210 and got into a large engine-boat. It was a half hour sail to St. Mary’s island. We reached the island at 3:00pm and walked around a bit in the rain.

We walked to the other side of the island and found another beautiful beach. There were rocks everywhere and water hitting these rocks had made a tune of its own!

The thing that interested me here was the fact that not a grain of sand was found on this beach. It was made of billions of pieces of shells and shells only. This is still a mystery to me! This isn’t the case on the Indian side of the island. We shot photos and made our way to the boat. It took us another forty-five minutes to reach mainland-India, watching flocks of sea-gulls along the sail.

We cleaned ourselves as much as we could and started off from Udupi along NH-17. I could not wear those wet socks anymore. I took it out and put it to dry on the hot head cap of my bike’s engine. So as I rode, my socks turned dry. Clumsy idea, but it worked!

We started off on NH-17 again but destination-Murudeshwara seemed impossible. Deciding to stay at Kundapur, we left Udupi. Kundapur is a small city about 40km from Udupi. We waited for Abhiram on the highway, 4km from Udupi. He joined us soon and we went into a hotel to have a snack that substituted our mid-day meal. We had a lovely coffee and left for Kundapur in the heavily pouring coastal rain. It was nearly 5:30pm now and the west coast was almost dark!!! Hard, but you better believe!

30km of riding in the water-pooled NH-17, we reached Kundapur. We were in need of some warmth and a decent place to fix ourselves. We lodged in two rooms for the night at Hotel Sharon. A bit expensive, but we were in need of it. We bought a pack of tissues and used it to get the wetness off our shoes and the inside of our helmets. Our skin was bad, being soaked all day in rain. It needed care too.

We secured our bikes, had a relieving bath and went to the restaurant to dine. A little beer and a very heavy meal constituted our dinner. Not all had beer though for we needed sensible people when there were drunk ones J !

I was up at 5:30am the next morning and went to feel my wet leather jacket. It was twice as heavy as its dry weight when I hung it up the previous night. It was a bit lighter now. I started to dry my shoes with the tissues, squeezing every inch of it to make it wear-worthy.

Soon everyone was up, packed our bags, had a hot cup of Kundapur coffee and checked out by 7:00am. We did find interested faces looking at our motorcycle-team on the way, but we never paused, owing our due respects to time.

Kitta doubted the oil level on his bike and Mari’s bullet needed a top-up as well. So we bought a can of SAE 20W-40 and bid adieu to Kundapur.

Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t dry anymore! Rain started to pour on our dry selves. We went riding without a second option and the rain lessened gradually. The road was still dark due to the overcast sky and in a while we entered a brighter part of the road! We slowed down to see the wonderful Marvanthe beach to our left, by the side of NH-17.

It is the most beautiful and Godly beach I have ever seen! We were warned by the hotel folks, not to venture into the beach as it was very dangerous and steep.

Not a sound, not a large wave! The sea indeed looked cold and dangerous. The gradient at which land entered the sea itself warned of the consequences had you ventured!

We stood by the rock bunds and clicked photos. We, or rather I, had no mind to leave that beach and go. We stayed back for another fifteen minutes just looking at the silent waters and then moved on. After ten kilometers of ride there was a surprise for us! I saw my shadow move in front of me! There was sun behind me J. We stopped for five minutes to warm ourselves and moved on to Bhatkal to break for a break-fast! Everyone almost had a meal in the name of breakfast and moved away from Bhatkal to Murudeshwara. It was almost 10:00am now. This place was about 20km from Bhatkal and had to deviate left to Murudeshwara temple.

I left a minute late than others from Bhatkal and naturally the gap had grown to almost half a kilometer between us. I was not aware of the route and I only had plans to follow them. I rode a little too fast to see a waving Ajay indicating me to turn. I ignored the turn and went cruising along the smooth dry road at around 90kmph. I rode for some 8-10 minutes and felt bothered that I still couldn’t catch them! I paused to call Ajay just to ensure if he really was ahead of me! There were 6 missed calls and I called him up. He asked me to come back and turn right at the sign to the temple.

“How far is Murudeshwara temple from here?”, I asked a shopkeeper nearby.

“Eleven kilometers!!!”

I had come ahead by eleven kilometers. I turned back and had to cruise again to cover the distance in 9 minutes! They were at the Murudeshwara beach, laughing at me!

I put my wet socks on my hot dusty engine, begged a sorry from them and we moved into the temple!

The temple building was relatively new and was an engineering marvel. It stood strong in the sea unperturbed by the water. The tower of the temple was the tallest among the ones seen during this trip of ours! We visited the temple and it took no more than half an hour for it!

Clicked snaps of the gigantic statue of Lord Shiva, outside the temple and planned our move from there to reach Gokarna.

We joined the NH-17 from Murudeshwara and headed on our way to Honnavar. The best part about this road is that, you get to climb hills watching the sea. Something which every biker would desire to do!

The road suddenly began to climb and curve. As you turn right, you see the whole Arabian Sea to your left spreading upto the horizon! All clouds that were just above you are now moving fast, away from you. As they do, they cast various patterns of shadows on the green waters! You pause to wink your eye, you miss a unique lovely sight! You spot a truck speeding your way on the narrow wet road and you are in a dilemma where to look at! The truck or the painted lovely green sea! Both are once a lifetime events!

A proper storm hit, drenching us from top to bottom at Honnavar. It lasted for some 10 minutes and did all damage it could do! The sun got back in no time and it was scorching hot just ten minutes after the rainfall. Total extremities!

We rode through the newly asphalted piece of NH-17 for about an hour covering 50km and reached the deviation that would lead to Gokarna. The heat was unbearable now and our skins started to prick! We were forced to take out our jackets and ride through. The roads were red and muddy and left a long lasting dust coat on every part of my bike. Riding through the mud for about a kilometer, we reached tarmac at last. The temple of Gokarna was now 10km away. It took us about twenty minutes to cover the distance. The roads had fields on one side and tank bunds on the other. It was a pleasant ride through the villages with plenty of cattle and cow dung on the road.

We reached the temple at about 1pm and parked our bikes in the hot sun. There were more Europeans and Americans then native Indians at this place! The temple was beatiful but maintained bad. There was bill for everything and just like other famous temples; this is also ruled by its authorities. We offered our salutations at the temple and moved on. The last place on our onward journey was Om-Beach at Gokarna.

We started off. Om beach was five kilometers from the temple along mountainous roads again. We had to climb a hill and get down to the other side of it to reach the sea. Climbing up three kilometers left us marveling at the beauty of the green sea under a clear blue sunny sky. I paused to click photos and started the journey downhill.

The four of them waited for me and we parked our bikes. I bent down to secure my lace when I smelt something burning strong. I feared if my clutch had worn with lack of oil! But it smelt like rubber! I looked in and it was one of my socks I had put to dry on the engine-head-cap, at Murudeshwara. The sock was crispy and the elastic inside the fabric had started to burn! I took it out, and it cracked when I folded it and dumped in my bag.

We made our way through the rocks to reach the sea. A strong loud bell, deep inside our bodies struck us all. It was hunger!

We went to, what looked like, a hotel on the beach and you wouldn get anything but beer and chips! Throwing our swears, we came out and enquired about a place to eat. Some guy cared to direct us to the other side of the beach and hope for some food! Raki and Kitta put down their luggage with us and went out to search for dear food. They called up to say it was available at the other side of the beach, three hundred metres away!

We walked along with those extra bags and made ourselves comfortable inside the thatched beach-restaurant. Everyone ate a lot, or at least I did! It was 3pm by the time we finished our meal and went off to play at the beach.

The crowd was not much. There were animals of almost all species known to Darwin, exposing their hyde to the sun, for a tan. And when I say ‘hyde’, I do not restrict it to calf leather!

We quenched into the water and it was a real nice time for an hour and a half. I tried building a car out of sand, at a safe limit from the sea water, but it just took one big wave for the sea to show what it thought of my model!

We put on our clothes, and walked to our bikes to head to Bangalore. We all congratulated each other on achieving our destination, despite the rain. A small stall nearby sold buttermilk for five bucks and all gulped two large glasses of it. We were 430km away from Bangalore at this point; we just had enough time ahead of us to make it to office on Tuesday morning!

We started off through the winding curves and reached Gokarna and were riding along the bunds at top speed.

We reached the NH, 15km from Om-beach, and had to make it to Honnavar. Then we had to deviate off the NH through a shorter and a better route to Bangalore, along the world famous Jog Falls.

Mari had directed us to honk continuously when they wanted the biker in front to stop and that applied to all! I honked loud annoying every person who heard me on the highway, but Mari didn’t stop. Raki’s Motorola W-180 fell out of his trouser pocket as he rode pillion on the Enfield. It hit the road and disintegrated into three pieces. The body, battery and the battery cover were the three pieces thankfully!!!

I stopped my bike and turned back to run to the fallen pieces when I saw a speeding truck passing it! All three pieces were missed by millimeters! I ran and a second truck exactly followed the tyre trails of the previous one and missed all three by the same millimeters! Thanking luck I fetched those pieces, put them back, and held the power button. It switched on! AJ and Kitta had also paused by this time and we all resumed! In half an hour we reached the town of Honnavar and stopped to turn left at the deviation to Shimoga.

Raki began to search for his cell phone in his pockets, bag, everywhere and we three enjoyed watching the fun for sometime. I handed it over to him and reminded Mari to stop when someone behind, honks! Raki's face bloomed and we had no time to stop for tea!

It was 5:15pm now and we were riding on the Bangalore-Honnavar highway to reach Sagara, where we planned to lodge for the night. Sagara was about 120km from Honnavar.

I felt this stretch of ride to be the most painful ride of my tour. Jog was about 70km from Honnavar along fresh laid roads cut amidst red mountains. The road was wide enough to accommodate three trucks side to side but was asphalted for the width of one truck. It looked as if Kitta, AJ nor Mari felt any fatigue as they rode here. I kept suspecting a speeding truck across every corner and I rode slowly for I had to get on to mud if there was a truck in front of me. I guessed all this was because of mental strain!

I ignored two deep pot holes and threw the front of my bike into them with a late braking and the number plate of my bike carved into the front fender and left deep cut marks on it!

We rode slow in the twilight and reached the town of Gersoppa at 6:30pm. We decided to lodge at Jog instead of Sagara for two reasons. We could see the world famous falls early morning before continuing with our journey and secondly, it was getting too dark to ride 60km within the densest forests of Karnataka. AJ paused to secure his bag to his bike and I inquired the locals about lodging at Jog. They gave a few instructions and warned us to be very careful riding in the dangerous wet roads of the forest-Ghats and keep an eye on the speeding oil-tankers on those roads. We thanked them, put our headlights on and set out to complete the 30km Ghat ride in pitch darkness. We wouldn’t have done that if we had a place to camp at Gersoppa...

It was a ride I would never forget. Ten minutes into the ride, the place was as dark as coal. And the roads were just as wide as an oil-tanker at most sections. So even if a tanker had sped your way at two kilometers an hour, you would have no chance of survival if he did not spot you! You had to fall off the mountain to escape the truck! Thankful to our stars, we did not meet any such trucks at those sections!

The bullet rider had a mood to cruise and went ahead of all. We three kept together and rode slow. AJ’s RX had poor electricals and so he was made to tail me and Kitta rode behind him. The trees made a dense canopy over us and I wonder if any light would light the way, even during the day! The time was approaching 7:15pm and the visibility of the roads turned poor. There was fog in front of us! I paused to click some snaps of it but the other two insisted me to move on! We rode slow till the fog cleared out and regained our usual speed through the curves.

The road was really dangerous. I rode on low beam as the road was bad, and came to a screeching halt four feet away from a steep fall. The road had actually curved 165 degree right, and I could not see it at all! Not a sign was present. I thanked my brakes and stars and moved on. The curves ahead of you would be visible only on high beam and the deep cuts on the road, on low beams! So we had to keep toggling between the filaments to ride safe! There was an old man, 6 feet tall, long hair upto his thighs, walking on the road. His energy amazed me. There was an uprooted tree midway and had blocked half of the narrow road. Two cars full of tourists were stranded beside the fallen tree as the drivers replaced a punctured wheel on one of those cars. They never gestured for any help, so we kept moving. The weather kept on changing in these Ghats. It was moderate at the start, turned out to be biting cold in the middle and returned to normal at the end! The view on the mirrors in the last bike of our train would’ve been the best. As if riding out of a black hole!

After 25km of ride through the mountainous roads, we reached Mavingundi village. We got down, feeling happy about ourselves, congratulated each other for the lovely ride and stretched our bodies. We all needed tea and went into a stall nearby. I suddenly remembered the old man with long hair and asked the others if they saw him. They had seen him too, but Abhiram had a bit more to say. According to the old stories they were deceased people walking and we were not supposed to see their face. It felt a little creepy but no one showed it out. We had tea and asked the stall owner about lodges to stay at Jog. He advised us to get a room in the Government Youth Hostel and it would work out better. We thought that was a good idea, thanked him and moved on our way. We still had five kilometers to cover through the forest to reach Jog and the time now was 7:45pm.

We rode on our normal pace and two kilometers into the ride, a mishap waited our way. Mari’s Enfield skid in front of me during a left turn and the bike slid across the road and sent sparks flying out as the foot-peg scratched the road. The three of us put our bikes to the side with the headlights on, and ran to the fallen two. The top half of the Machismo had fallen on Mari’s foot and all I heard was him screaming of back-ache. With all my effort I lifted the Enfield for him to free his foot and he lied there shouting in agony. At the same time Raki was thrown off the bike and had landed on the tarmac. The helmet on his head saved him and the skin on his left knee was torn very badly. We were speechless and thanked God that both were safe! The Bullet could not be moved from the road. The bike was stuck in gear and did not move. I held on to the clutch and AJ and Krishna pushed the beast from the back and ‘cluuckkk’ the machine started to move. It looked like the chain was stuck and prevented the bike from moving! We put it to one side and a local biker stopped to offer help. Mari had managed to get to the side of the road and was up on his feet. Not a single car or a truck that passed by, stopped. The only light we had was from three bikes idling at a 1000rpm. We were relieved when Raki and Mari were up on their feet and had started to walk. Everything had been so well so far. No one happened to like this incident!

We went on to examine the damage done to the bike. The headlight was gone and the gear pedal was bent. With a few scratches on its crash guard, it was fine. It was stuck in some gear and would not shift back into neutral. It took some time and a few jolts before it found the neutral. The self starter did not work and Kitta managed to kick start the 500cc beast. Mari still with an aching back, took the bike for a ride and felt that it was fine, but the 4th and 5th gears never engaged. We decided to look into it at Jog. Raki rode pillion with Kitta and we went on slowly for the next three kilometers to reach Jog. There was a departmental store nearby and we bought a few plasters which were of no use later on.

AJ and Kitta arranged for a room in the Government Youth Hostel and we moved in. There was light at last in the lodge and their wounds looked very bad. Abhiram hit the bed crying of back ache and Raki sat on a chair not being able to fold his left leg. Abhi’s Accenture jacket was torn to bits and his trouser wouldn’t cover half of what it should have!

Blood kept trickling out of Raki’s wound and all we had were tissues to keep the wound dry. AJ and Kitta went out to get dinner for the five of us and I simply sank in a chair not able to speak a word! Mari removed his shirt and there were more wounds. The skin on his shoulder and elbow were torn. AJ and Kitta were back after forty five minutes of hunting and managed to get some delicious chapathis.

Mari was forcibly fed two chapathis and with a pain killer he was off to sleep. The rest of us finished the remaining chapathis and went out to get some sterile cloth from the first-aid kit of the Enfield.

We decided to send Raki and Mari by bus to Bangalore, the next morning and send the bike by cargo. I and Kitta tried the gears on the Bullet. All five gears were engaging thankfully. The self-starter still did not function. I still had no clue why the Enfield fell. There was no gravel or water at that turn. I later found out from one of my trusted mechanics that the nasty problem was observed in every bullet since the day it was first made! The rear wheel gets locked when braking hard and the whole bike tends to skid right and the company has made no attempt to fix this nagging issue! We talked for a while and found our way to bed.

I woke up at six the next day to the crowing of a rooster, probably for the first time in my life, and went out to inquire about the bus timings and to find a logistics outlet. The nearest bus stand and any logistics outlets were at Sagara, 30km down the hill. Mari was now up and still had the pain. He started moving his hands against pain and I pressed his back for him. He found relief after sometime and decided to ride till Sagara. Mari and I went out to check the bike and test it. It ran fine. The self starter now clicked occasionally.

We checked out of the hostel by 8:30 and started on our journey to the falls. There was factually no water and still the place looked beautiful. The four sections of Jog, Raja, Rani, Roarer and Rocket were distinctly visible. It seemed that the dam gates were open on weekends and closed on Sunday nights. We happened to visit the place on a Monday morning! Monday mornings are known to suck, be it at office or a holiday!

We rode slow and reached Sagara by 9:30am. Abhiram was now comfortable on his bike despite the back ache and decided to ride till Bangalore. Our destination was still 375km away! We had a heavy breakfast at Sagara and Raki got into a bus to Bangalore. Abhiram bought a body spray, a few painkillers and we all started to head home!

The roads were really good and the weather was pleasant thankfully. We reached Shimoga by 11:00am and stopped to refuel. My bike had once again given an impressive mileage of 50kmpl. The petrol station attendant was curious to know about our journey and I started off with my story-telling...

We reached Bhadravathi in some time and took the by-pass road to avoid the town. Our next stop was in Kadur at 1:45pm for tea. We finished our break in ten minutes and started off with our journey. The roads were really good and we covered 55km to Arsikere in an hour to stop for lunch. The lunch was really good, again for fifteen bucks.

From here AJ and Kitta would deviate right to reach Mysore after 130km and Mari and I had to take the usual road to Bangalore for another 170km. We had group photos posing against the milestones, wished each other and moved on.

I and Mari rode non stop for 110km to reach Tumkur, where we paused for tea. This was again a town with reckless drivers getting on our way every now and then. It took us about half an hour to get to the other side of Tumkur and we got on the expressway leading to Bangalore. This was the most beautiful road on our entire trip and the distance of 35km to Nelamangala was covered in less than half-hour.

We were now in Bangalore and the traffic jams here almost made me cry! It took us two full hours to reach home. The whole ride was not as strenuous as the ride from Nelamangala to home through the dirty traffic that makes up Bangalore!

I now felt bad that the trip was over. It was a wonderful achievement that we had done. It would have been even better without that mishap!

The 1170km route map looked somewhat like this. Red lines marking our onward journey and yellow, the return.I had a lot of stories and memories to share with friends J and this trip added one more precious feather in my hat!

I have posted a few photos here.