A memorable trip on bike to rediscover myself in the foothills of Himalayas – Part I

This story was lying idle and getting dust in my memory for a very long time. Many times in the past, I thought to write about this trip which was very close to my heart, but somehow it didn’t happen, except updating the profile picture in my Gmail account, which stayed there for a long time and now in this site as well. Actually, I thought this might be an appropriate picture for a “Bhavaghure or Jajabar” (Ghumakkar) like me.  Once I read about Nirmalya’s post on “North Goa beaches and more on a shoe-string budget”, I just thought to took out some time to pen down (or do I say blackberry down – as this entire post was written on my blackberry, irrespective of where I am and what I was doing in the last few days), before it erase from my memory permanently…oh no!  ‘am planning for a long innings, so many things to do and so many places to visit…no intention to quit so soon…just kidding :)

This incident happened during Durga Puja, 2000. I was staying in Gurgaon, slogging my days in and out and spending most of the time with my first wife, trying to earn a place for myself and settle in life in an unknown territory – don’t try to imagine that ‘Gurgaon’ with today’s Gurgaon…to see a movie, we had to go to PVR Saket or Priya complex and there was no McDonalds, KFC or shopping malls to kill your time after office hours. But yes, Gurgaon had many good eatery joints / dhabas alongside the NH-8…Ohho it was also not NH-8 in its current form as well. We missed those places badly now, but at the same time you can reach Dhaula Kuan in 15 to 20 mins and we don’t mind development.

In office


I am not in the habit of taking leave unless and until there is a genuine reason, thus saving most of my leaves for going home only – the same tradition still continues. Durga Puja is one such occasion which I don’t want to miss and always wanted to be a part of the celebration at my own turf.

The Goddess Durga – One from my album Y-2009

So, I applied leave well in advance and booked my ticket as well. You should consider yourself very lucky  if you have a confirmed reservation during Durga Puja, since availability is over within 30 minutes of the first day of the booking. If you don’t agree or have no idea about it, check with your Bong friends – there might be many who are not lucky till today and checking the status of their W/L tickets on a daily basis, when you are reading this post. But I am sure, they will somehow manage and be there at home to celebrate the biggest festival in our life (20th – 24th, 2012). Good luck to all of them!

I did my Puja shopping, though with a very limited budget in those initial days in life when survival was extremely difficult, for my parents and sister a week ago and packed my suitcase. It was a beautiful morning, when I left home for office along with my suitcase on Sep 29, 2000, as I planned to leave our office by lunch to catch Rajdhani Express. I met everyone almost six months back and was extremely happy to meet them once again just within a day. The excitement to listen to the sound of ‘Dhak’, the happiness to be with everyone engrossed my mind completely, as I entered office around 9 a.m.

It was a beautiful morning I thought, as I greeted everyone. Seeing me with my suitcase, they knew that I would be going home and wished me good luck.

“Good morning, Sir”

“Chats,…come to my room.”

Pause…what happened, was there anything wrong, I was trying to recollect all my yesterday’s activities, while entering his room and preparing myself for something…

“Chats, if you don’t mind, can you cancel your ticket. We are expecting a delegation from Sweden for Product Council Meeting next week and there is some work we need to complete. Don’t worry, I will approve your leave during Diwali.”

Life is full of joy and sorrow, happiness and disappointments, ups and down and Life can also throw unexpected surprises – it was taught in my school and I am also explaining its’ meaning to my son now. But, at that point of time those are only “THE WORDS” for me and nothing else. Remember ‘3 Idiots’ – “Jab dost fail ho to dukh hota hai, lekin jab dost top kare to aur bhi dukh hota hai”

What else would you do in my place, when the requester is the CEO of your Company? Do you have any other option? I know some who might still have some other options, but fortunately or unfortunately, I am not so impulsive in nature and the other option to fly – was an unthinkable proposition for me at that point of time.

I have a great respect for Mr. Ram S. Ramasundar, the then CEO of Electrolux India, who is like a God Father for me, I had no other option but to say “Yes Sir, I will”.

It was already 11 in the morning and I had an i-ticket. I asked permission to go to the counter to cancel the ticket, to get atleast 50% refund. Who says money doesn’t matter?

“Do one thing, prepare a voucher – it will be reimbursed fully from accounts, I will approve the same.” So, one of my worry had been taken care of…but what about the disappointments.

From a very beautiful morning, all of a sudden it became one of the worst day for me. Life became so dull within few minutes that I was speechless. With a heavy heart, I called up home to inform that I won’t be able to come. Durga Puja was over by the time I hang up the phone for them and it was already over for me looooong time back, even before the first sound of Dhak.

‘Dhakis’ – Source reference ‘Durgapujaonline.com’

The irony of the day was that the expected delegation postponed their trip due to festival time in India; the news received late in the evening. Therefore, I was granted next week as a Holiday once again due to Puja. So, we had holidays from Saturday to Monday (Sep 30-Oct 2) and Dusshera falling on Saturday, the 7th and 8th was Sunday.

What would I be doing? I was left with no friends, as all my bong friends had left for home by now.

It is very difficult to stay alone in a crowded city. I had a very good friend circle but it was also time for almost everyone to settle down in life, some of them just married and busy with their personal life, few left the City or India for better opportunities and almost all bong friends, who were staying here, had  already left for their home.

While returning home, I was so depressed that I didn’t know how I would spend the next nine days alone. I didn’t want to return to my first wife anymore, nor at least till I became normal. By the time I reached my cage in Sector 14 (the place where I used to stay, though it was a good one room accommodation but I gave it a name ‘cage’.  Since at your home, you are surrounded by your near and dear ones and don’t need to stay alone, hence this name), I had already decided, “Whatever may happen, I am not going to stay in my cage tonight”. I had couple of T-shirts (all white), jeans and cap in my wardrobe, I packed them all in a bag and left my cage at 7:30 p.m. I didn’t have much left in the bank, as I spent almost everything during my Puja shopping, however, withdrawn Rs.2,500/- out of Rs.4,000/-.  It’s not much but those were the bachelor days and you should know how to swim in difficult circumstances – adaptability at its  best. If you are still guessing who was that unlucky first wife of mine, it’s my office.

My cage

Old DLF Colony – From my balcony

There I was, standing at IFFCO Chowk at 8 p.m., along with my best friend, my Yamaha RX-100. I had no idea what to do now and where to go…the thought to go to Jaipur was in mind, but it’s again the hills, the nature overruled my desire to see the history. Something was calling me from inside to get lost with Nature for few days.  I reached Anand Vihar Bus Terminal to catch a bus for Haridwar, only to find out that bus leaves from Kashmiri Gate and not from there. One more disappointment, Life was really cruel with me since morning.

NH-8 – My favourite place to relax on weekends, during those days, Pic taken in 2000

[Regarding the above picture: I found this place (on NH8, once you cross Manesar, the road bends) as the best place to be with Nature in Gurgaon and come back home with fresh mind. I used to go there almost every Sunday along with my camera, sit there all alone and just click. Fortunately, no social networking sites e.g. Facebook or Twitter or Orkut were in place to kill our time, or I was not aware of them, even if they did exist. If someone had ever noticed a young man with a green cap sitting alone or clicking pictures at that point, around 13-12 years ago, you could have noticed me. All these pictures were taken through “Olympus µ[mju:]-II Zoom 80”, another best friend of mine, who was also a part of this journey.]

It was almost 9:30 at night, I whispered to my friend, it was now or never, don’t wait for the morning, let’s go now. I didn’t want to waste the opportunity anymore.  I kicked and my friend approved the idea with a thundering sound, without any second thought I left the bus terminal and very soon I was on the road, crossing Dabur Chowk along with my best friend.

Let me also introduce you with my friend, my Yamaha RX-100. A little bit more about the bike – The Yamaha RX-100 is a 98 cc two-stroke single-cylinder air-cooled motorcycle that was manufactured between 1985  and 1996.  In the first two to three years, the bikes were knock-down kits (CKD) and assembled in India. The only major change that the bike underwent was that it was upgraded from a 6-volt electrical system to a 12-volt system. You’ll enjoy each moment riding this beauty,  a racy, noisy smelly 2-stroke for the power hungry, but a very reliable and a style statement for the youth in our times. It gives you a sense of Pride when you are on the machine. Today, I also own a TVS Victor, 100 CC bike, which is almost 10 years old, but I still prefer my old RX100.

The back beauty – The style statement for the youth

I went to Haridwar once during my college time along with my parents, when we visited Delhi for the first time. We took a DTC bus, might be from Kashmiri Gate during our visit to Delhi. I had a little bit idea about the route that you need to cross Ghaziabad and then just rely on the signboards.

My first visit to Haridwar – Trekking to Chandi Devi Temple

Due to the series of disappointments since morning and finally newly found  excitement, forgot the basic need to fulfill our stomach. After filling-up the petrol tank near Meerut (~Rs.29 per litre), stopped at a roadside dhaba around 11 p.m. I had to pass through Meerut city. Riding on a RX 100 at night through a city which had an immense role in our Independence Movement through “Sepoy Mutiny”. I was thrilled. The city had already in deep sleep by the time, however, I found one small dhaba and order Roti and shahi paneer, my north Indian favoruite, along with Butter Chicken. The food might have been tasty – I really don’t remember the taste at the moment.

From my childhood, I was fearless in nature. So, the dark doesn’t scare me. The road to Haridwar was never explored by me before this journey, hence had no idea about the condition of the road, neither did my research before leaving.  However, I saw many cars even at night and then followed them one after another.  (By now, I must have travelled 15 times at this stretch in bike and car. Recently, I drove till Muzzafarnagar few months back and the condition of the road is excellent from Meerut till Muzzarfarnagar and may be after that as well).

A cup of hot tea on the highway is always good to keep you alert all the time, which I learned from this trip and is now a rule for me during long drive.  Night drive is safe for cars, and I won’t suggest anyone to be so adventurous in bike even if you are accompanied with friends – mine was an exceptional case – so, please don’t repeat.  

There was nothing to mention about the night drive, except I stopped two to three times for a cup of tea ‘only’, as I had to manage with whatever I was carrying with me and I had no idea how many days I would be on the road…(fortunately I didn’t have to pay any toll during the entire trip…and I was riding bike as well) finally reached Haridwar at 3:30 in the morning.   With the help of some Rickshaw pullers, reached “Bharat Seva Shram Sangha”. However, since the main gate was closed, waited outside for more than an hour and seeing the condition, Maharaj was kind enough to give me a room in the Ashram in the morning. No doubt, I was tried and wanted to sleep for couple of hours before exploring the city and a visit to Ma Ganga. But, it was already 6 in the morning, you just can’t sleep when Sun is already out (not my words – I used to listen to this so may times, most probably since my birth), hence after taking bath in ice cold water and a good breakfast at Ashram, feeling fresh to visit the place I love the most.

The sight of the river Ganga, the chill in the air refreshes my mind from all unpleasant thoughts and disappointments. “It is a very beautiful morning”, I told myself. Life seems to be kind with me once again, I thought. I could listen someone was telling me constantly from inside that explore the nature and its beauty in next few days. “Enjoy your life”. I listened to my inner voice.

Har-ki-Pauri, Haridwar

Har-ki-Pauri, Haridwar

What followed next….changed my life forever…the series will continue

25 Comments

  • JATDEVTA says:

    ?????? ???? ???-??? ?? ??? ?????? ???? ???? ??? 12 ??? ?? ?? 22 ???? ????? ??? ??? ???

    ???? ????? ??? RX 100 ???? ?????? ???? ???? ???? ??? ???? ?????? ?? ??? ???? ????, ?? ?? ?? ?????? ?? ??? ?? ???? ????

    • Hi Sandeep,

      First of all thank you for liking the post and my apology not to reply in Hindi – though I can read but can’t write. You are absolutely correct…whenever you look back and remember the old days, you will always feel good only.

      It was a classy bike and there are many who still love this beauty…

      Thank you,

      Regards,

  • Amitavajee

    Wonderful start to a series which looks superb. Wonderful description and classy photos.Specially the photo of Durga Pooja was astonishing. Its very painful when your trip gets cancelled, has happened with me few times.

    Yamaha RX-100 was one of the best bikes and best seller in those days . It was very smooth specially the firing. In traffic signal when signal turned green, Yamaha Rx- 100 would be first one in the race leaving other bikes and cars behind , so good was the pick up with firing sound pleasing the ears.

    The mention of some old facts like petrol price, your cage ( PC ), Olympus [mju:]-II Zoom 80, Yamaha RX- 100 etc. added tasty spices to the meal.

    Waiting for the next one.

    • Tx Vishal for liking the post. Just hope that this series won’t disappoint readers of this site. So, you must know the pain when such thing happened.

      Durga Puja is the biggest festival for any Bengali – we start counting from the next day of Dashami – “aar matra 365 din baki” – it’s only (read only) 365 days left for the next pujo…and we start counting each and every day for next year’s Pujo, plan our leaves, savings etc. etc. We do look forward to meet everyone in the family, friends during this time and enjoy those few days in our life, otherwise everybody is busy with their own life….

      Regarding RX-100, I think you also had the experience of this beauty and explained well in your review.

      When I thought and start writing this, it was just like it happened few days before – it was so close to me and I just need to close my eyes and visualize…I like your comment “tasty spices to the meal”…without mentioning them, this series would have been meaningless…those were (and are still) my best friends in real terms…believe me

      Take care,

  • Surinder Sharma says:

    ?? ?? ???? ????? ???? ??, ?? ???? ?? ???? ????? ???. ?? ????? ??? ?????? ?? ?? ???? ????? ????? ???? ??, ?? ??? ?? ??? ????????? ??? ???? ???. ?? ??????? ?? ???? ???? ?? ????? ?? ??? ????? ????? ???? ????. ?? ??? ?? ???? ?????? ????? ?? ?? ?? ??? ?? ???? ?? ???? ???. ?? ?? ???? ??? ?? ?????? ???. ???? ????? ????? ???? ?? ??? ???? ???? ???????

    • Thank you Surinder for liking the post and photos.

      Family is still very important part in our (not mine alone) life and it’s only a decade ago…yes, I do agree with you that your preference changes alongwith times and responsibilities…and I am in love with the city – the same way as I miss my home, which gives me everything and fortunately my cage life was over long time back and my parents are also living with me since Dad’s retirement, so it’s home once again…

      Have a nice day,

  • Hi Amitava Ji,

    Nice post. RX 100 is still my favourite bike. I really like its sound and pickup. You can sense from distance, by its sound that Yamaha is coming.

  • Stone says:

    Another very captivating piece Amitava.
    Lovely narration, you almost transported me to the Delhi/Gurgaon of late 90s and early 2000s.

    You surely have a way of leaving impression in the hearts of your readers, I still remember the last paragraph of your last post in your ‘Visiting your home town’ series, it left an huge impact and I still get a huge lump in the throat recalling that. Beautiful writing.

    Now, looking for forward to next one in this series.

  • Thank you so much for appreciating this work, Sandip.

    It’s a very beautiful morning after reading your review…and it’s really – look at the weather. Just yesterday I saw the Rainbow after a long long time and captured it in few frames…so, something on that very soon in this site on monsoon in India…something is cooking in my mind already

    I hope I will do justice to your comments in all my future posts as well…

    Do take care and stay in touch…have a nice day

  • Deepak says:

    Refreshing ….
    And you wrote this all on your Blackberry … wonderful.
    Eagerly awaiting your follow up post.

    • Thank you Deepak.

      Unbelievable, but true, except final draft for editing purpose – as there is no way I can work on my laptop at home – then who will play with my son or may be once he is sleeping at night and he doesn’t even like us to watch TV these days…so it is only POGO and Disney (even for us…still better than those stupid EK stype of serials) for few minutes in a day…

      Take care, have a nice day

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Great beginning Amitava. I can smell a good series already. Enough has been said about RX100 so I would spare the readers. On of my close friend bought RX135 (after Yamaha stopped making RX 100) and it had that kick in the drive but didn’t have the glamour and the cult status which RX 100 made for itself.

    Going solo on a bike during night, with little planning is very courageous and I agree that it is not advisable. Curious to read what happened next ?

    • Tx a lot for always encouraging and appreciating.
      I am not lowering my readers’ expectation to be disappointed at the end…

      agreed…I will never suggest anyone to drive at night by bike…this drive was actually started by an unsettled mind, who just used me to fulfil his own desire…and when that unsettled mind became normal…this body of mine started enjoying the beauty of the Nature…

      I love the name of the series ‘Looking Beyong – A Bike Journey”…Tx once again

      Have a great day…

  • Rajesh sigh says:

    Great ,only i can say .you inspire me . thanks

  • D.L.Narayan says:

    Great rip down the memory lane, Amitava. thanks for the info that a ghumakkar is known in Bengali as Jajabar; it has a nice ring to it. It is also amazing to learn that you compose your posts on a Blackberry! You should seriously consider participating in one of those SMS texting contests.

    I can empathise with the angst you must have felt when your CEO asks you to cancel your planned vacation to Kolkata during the Pooja holidays. As an ex-resident of Kolkata, I know that during the Durga Pooja season, there is no other place in the entire world like Kolkata. The atmosphere is simply incredible. There is no better way to get rid of that angst than by hopping onto your favourite bike and go on a long ride of “self-discovery”.

    Waiting eagerly to read about your “life-changing” experience.

  • Thanks a lot for your review, DL.

    ‘Jajabar’ means nomadic, migratory, wanderer… In Bengali ‘jajabar jati’ denotes a nomadic race who loves to move and move without any destination… migratory birds are also called ‘jajabar pakshi’ in Bengali. You must have listen the famouse song of Late Dr. Bhupen Hazarika ‘Ami Ek Jajabar’…the music will explain it all…(I am a gypsy The Earth has called me her own and I have forgotten my own home…) – you will definitely love the song.

    Regarding Blackberry thing, it is hard to believe but true…whenever & wherever I found some extra time, I wrote something and now an expert in this field…it saves time and I can devote some extra time at home as well.

    I didn’t know that you stayed in Kolkata before, then what shall I tell you about Puja…you already mentioned it here…yes, there is no other place in the entire world like Kolkata during those few days…not even in Brazil during carnival…you have to be there to feel it…

    My next post is scheduled on September 1st week – hope you won’t be disappointed…

    Thank you for your encouragement…have a great day

  • ???? ?? ???? ?? ?? ?? ??? ??? ???? ?? ???? ?? ??? ?? ?? 58 ?? 70 ????0 ?? ???? 65 ????? ?? ?

    ?? ?????? ?? ??? ?? ?? ???? ??? ???? ??? ??? ?? ??? ??? ???? ?? ???? ??? ?? ??? ?? ??????? ?????? ?? ???????? ?? ??? ??? ?? ??? 10 ???? ??? ???????? ?? ??? ??? ??? ??? ?? ????? ? ???? ??? ?????? ??? ??

    ???? ???? ???? ???? ??? ?? ????? ????? ???? ?? ??????? ???? ?? ???? 100 ?????? ?? ????? ?? ? ?????? ?? ?? ???? ???? ?????????? ?????????? ?? ?? ? ???? ??? ???? ?? ???? 135 ?? ????? ?? ????? ?? ???? ???? ???? ??? ?? ??? ??? ??? ? ???? ?????? ????? 100 ???? ??? ????? ?? ?? ?? ??? ?? ???? ?? ?? ???????? ????

    ?? ??? ???? ????? ?? ?? ????? ???? ??? ??? ??? ??? ?? ???? ????? ????? ?????

    ?? ??? ?? ??? ????? ?? ???? ??? ??? ?? ?? ??? ??? ???? LOL

  • Tx Manu…yes, we had to pay toll when we went to Muzzafarnagar in last year December.

    …and people should always avoid drinking while driving…be it Bike, Car or any other form of transport…it’s true that travel time will reduce drastically – but night drive is not safe for bike…

    Thank you for liking the post…have a nice day

  • Sharmila Ray says:

    Hello Amitava Da !!

    It awesome reading ur memories …. but why in parts n even if so why haven’t u written the next part yet … it’s almost nearing Durga Puja n u might get busy ….. please finish it soon (make time in between ur puja shoping) – U write like my baba narate his stories or trips …. i really like u style of writing – believe it or not very Bengali :)

    By the way i visited ur personal blog too …. it can be a great place – i notice u have ur on domain address … that shows u r interested in developing it …. i don’t know the real procedure but it’s something to do with the wordpress n downloading free template … if u r interested – i will ask my Dada and let u know !! Sorry didn’t have ur email otherwise would have send u a mail.

    • Thank you Sharmila.

      I had to break this in parts, otherwise it would have been a lengthy post and there might be some loose ends…wait for few more days – next part is scheduled to publish mid-this week…so keep watching this space…it’s my pleasure to receive such sweet comments…so, Puja shopping already started for you…it is always ‘Pujo-i chai natun jama, natun juto…for us, right…’

      How hard we try to feel like to be at home before Pujo here, you really can’t get that atmosphere here – I really miss my days…how is the atmosphere over there (I guess you are in West Bengal at present). I wish all of you a very happy Durga Puja…it’s only few days from now…next month

      “believe it or not very Bengali :)” – I really love your comment – and I think you are right.

      You must have received my mail by now, so stay in touch…wishing you all the best in your life

      Thank you

  • Great start of the series Amitava. I hope this had revived old memories of most persons here including mine. Looking ahead for next part…

    • Thank you Deependra.

      If I really able to revive old memories – it’s my biggest achievement…we should always look back at our past, remembering those sweet moments or not so sweet moments, times spent with so many people with whom we may not be in touch at present, but might have left a mark in your life for various reasons…

      Think of your past without any regret and enjoy your present at the same time…to me both are equal…

      Take care,

      Regards,

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