19th August 2012 – 06:00 am – Rising Sun Retreat, Mount Abu (beginning of the return journey)
I, as usual, woke up everyone, it was dark and COLD … but we had to get ready to leave … after multiple knocking on the door, and shouting and yelling, everyone was ready @ 7:30 am, and we were ready to start our journey back, all of us were anyways happy and feeling proud that we were at our destination 1100 kms from Pune and ready to head back home … it has been a difficult, exciting, adventurous and demanding journey till now, but the feeling of pride and happiness was overpowering our tiredness by miles.
19th August 2012 – 08:00 am – Entry and Exit Toll, Mount Abu (1208 kms)
We were crossing the entry and exit toll booth thumping and zooming past the onlookers at high speed … and climbing down from Mount Abu was not difficult after so many rounds of Lavassa and Ghats we had done around Pune, it was rather a cake walk for all of us … we were down on the plains in about 30 mins, where we took the first halt for Breakfast, and here is where the disaster seems obvious … !!!
After a long previous day and heavy food, Ayush was not feeling well. He decided to have some very light breakfast and start soon. We had some light breakfast and started in 40 mins … the sun was out and it was getting hotter … even @ 9:00 am we could feel the heat in our riding gear. We realized that it may not be an easy day … we started and decided to halt not before we 120 – 150 kms … !!! but … yeah yeah … that but again …
After about 80 kms the sun was blistering on the Highway and obviously it was getting hotter and hotter … we took a couple of minute breaks and carried on, somewhere near Siddhpur, In Gujarat, around 11:00 am, we stopped, and we had done around 140 kms … where Ayush started feeling very sick and dehydrated … It was burning on the roads and we needed water and liquids as frequently as possible .. and we were still 140 kms away from Ahmedabad and 240 kms from Vadodara.
Ayush, Rohan and I stopped for water.
What had happened is that we were now broken into 2 groups of 3 and 4 .. due to the frequent stops, but we were still 2-3 kms apart, we knew that.
At the halt, we saw Sharath, Vikas, Prateek and Rachit coming .. we asked them to stop, but they felt that we asked them to carry on … so they zoomed pass us … we had water, some Gatorade and started … !!!
19th August 2012 – 11:30 am – Sinddhpur & Unjha (1332 kms) – First Diaster – The Accident
We would have went just about 2 kms … when we saw the 4 of them stopped, at a distance … I wondered why they didn’t stop where we were and stopped a couple of kms later … 1 km closer .. we saw a Donkey … wounded in the leg badly … and it was quite eminent that some car or sumo or similar vehicle got hit by this donkey, standing right in the middle of the highway… but as we went closer to our folks, we senses something is wrong …
Sharath was riding at around 100 kmph and hit this Donkey head on …!!!!
We were wondering and thanking God that he didn’t fall off his bike and control it to stop it. It would have been a terrible accident, but in this he completely damaged the Fender of the bike. For non Bikers, Fender is the front portion you see in some bikes, pictorial representation will help !!! ☺
The fender was completely damaged and it was not possible to ride the bike with the damaged fender, it needs to be replaced or broken completely otherwise it was restricting the handle movement.
We were happy that Sharath got saved, and the donkey was alive ☺, but now we have a bigger problem in hand. We are in the middle of no-where with 1 man not feeling well, and 1 bike damaged.
While we were trying to break off the damaged fender so that that bike may be taken to the nearest mechanic, Ayush was getting bad to worse … he was completely dehydrated and fell flat on the Highway … 12:00 noon … around 38-40 degrees … no-one around and Ayush Lying on the road … the others breaking the fender so that the bike can to taken to the nearest mechanic … !!!
After 30 mins of deliberation the bike was ready to move, but Ayush had become worse, we asked Sharath with the bike, Rohan and Vikas to move and get a mechanic and get the work done, in the meanwhile Prateek, Rachit and I will get Ayush moving.
After another 20 mins Ayush was ready to ride again, but he could not wear the jacket … so we decided to cruise and reach a place where we can make him rest till the time the bike is ready to go ahead.
We were still about 32 kms from Mehsana where we could find a decent place to stop of a decent mechanic, but to our delight we got a mechanic about 10 kms ahead.
In the meanwhile we started and after 7 kms got a toll. We stopped at the toll.
19th August 2012 – 12:30 pm – Somewhere on SH41 (1340 kms) – jacked
Now the situation is: 3 people are getting the bike fixed, Ayush is not feeling well, is drained and dehydrated, we have covered 150 kms in 6 hours. As per the initial plan we are 320 kms short of our destination – Surat. Which is nowhere in range now … we are still 210 kms from Vadodara, which also looked impossible. It was evident that we will have to stop at Ahmedabad … or rather Mehsana if Ayush is not able to move and the bike is not ready.
I was getting tense – the Secret.
Every minute passing made me tense… why ??? Hey I had a flight to catch at 06:10 am from Pune to Bangalore and then Drive 150 kms and reach Mysore by 11:00 am … to start a training workshop …. !!!! ha…
2 weeks before we left Pune I got a mail from My DM … not the District magistrate …. IT people know this character very well … charting our destinies most of the time … the Delivery Manager.
The mail read … “Sarthak, you are expected to reach Mysore – Our N.R. Narayan Murthy Center of excellence Campus on 20th August and Start the 1 week training for the new batch of ID’s who’ve joined Infosys. Please raise a travel request and also mail Mysore for the accommodation on campus”
The mail hit like a Bofors gun fired at me from 10 mtrs … I immediately called up the batch co-ordinator and informed that I was on a Ride to Rajasthan from 15th and returning on 20th August … it being a holiday. Lakshmi, the batch co-ordinator, who was well aware of my program, gave a hearty laugh …. “This is how it is, Sarthak … She wanted me to go on the ride but the training dates cannot be changed“ I could not cancel my trip after soo much of preparation.
I requested if I could reach on 21st itself and start the sessions by noon, and will cover the syllabus anyways. Like all good bosses and generous employers … I was given the permission, provided I finished the syllabus … !!!
I am going to rajasthan atleast … !!! But on the back of the mind I knew I had to reach Pune by 20th…. And get myself ready to travel @ 5:00 am from home the next morning, and …… the most exciting part was… I had NOT told my wife before leaving for trip that I will be back and within the next 12 hours have to leave again for 7 days … I knew if I broke this news before leaving … I would have the face the as usual trauma of married people:
“You don’t have time for me !”
“Rajasthan se hi direct Mysore chale jao … why come back to Pune?”
“Isko guest hosue samajh rakha hai … koi zaroorat nahin hai waapas aane ki”
“Jab Biking hi karni hai to shaadi kyon ki ….
To avoid all of this I had planned to break the news on 20th morning only … when I would be near Pune … that too because I will have to ask my wife to get my formals ready and pack it … I know I would be murdered because of this … but I could not take a chance. But now with Ayush Down, 1 bike broken, still 755 kms from home, after a tiring ride … it was looking kind of impossible to reach Pune the next day.
The Toll Booth Officer – It happens only in India
We stopped at the toll and Ayush was still not feeling good. We had no option but to stop and take a good halt for him to rest till the time the Bike would be repaired.
This was a big toll booth with a big office … I seeing Ayush’s health had to take a chance to get inside the office. We found out where the in-charge was/ the toll booth officer? He was just returning from a scheduled round and he saw us resting under the shade near the toll office building, and obviously, as always there was a crowd to watch us … 4 jokers in thick jackets, balaclava, etc in this heat. As he walked towards us, I had decided, we need to get into his office.
“Sir … our friend is not feeling well, can we rest inside the office under the fan is possible and get some water to drink?”
I could not ask his name … but if you are ever reading this …. I like to thank you from the bottom of my heart ….
He instantly said yes … plz come in … and to our surprise, he opened his personal chamber, and as Government officers would appreciate, and not us, the Private sector employees, who spend their 12-14 hours in office in a 4X6 cubicle that his chamber was a 16X20 ft room with a 2 ton Split AC, which is normally kept switched on the whole day as sir may walk into anytime.
It was 18 degrees … amazingly scented room … we walked in … that room didn’t have too much of fancy furniture but a simple furnishing, and that was looking to us better than a presidential Suite of Taj Hotel that time. From 38-40 degrees and s much of disaster … this room was heavenly.
The officer instructed us to use his room till the time we wanted and walked away for lunch … so we were sitting in the cabin of the Toll officer and he had gone out for lunch not to return for the next 1-2 hours … it took us less than 10 mins to take our jackets off and we all were lying flat on the floor … no-one even dare to think if it was clean or wiped … the cold cemented floor felt like the finest spring mattress you could find anywhere in the world, and there we lay … relaxing and thanking our fate.