Rising Above the Clouds

27 July, 2009 (Monday)

This weekend, my Bull (read ‘my bullet electra 4S’) and I were off to the misty heights of Lansdowne, a little known hillstation in Uttaranchal. Lansdowne is the headquarters of the Garhwal Rifles. I heard about this place a long time back. A lot of things apart from the name itself drew my attention. The information and photographs available on the Internet highlighted Lansdowne as a monsoon abode. People said the place looked heavenly in rain. There were special mentions of the peaceful long walks through the forests, the heritage buildings that stood unchanged since the Raaj era, and the picturesque drive from Kotdwara to Lansdowne. In short, the prospects were ideal for a weekend get away. All plans materialized this weekend and we ended up in Lansdowne. My usual travel buddy Vishal couldn’t make it this time, so I took KC, a dear friend and colleague of mine, along. The ride turned out to be an excellent one with everything falling into place. The expected and usual blended perfectly with the unexpected and unusual to make it a memorable experience. The ride was not just about Lansdowne. Every little place we rode through impressed us. The quality of roads was excellent through out. But like all good things, this ride too was over with the blink of an eye. Three days on the roads flew off much faster than 80 kmph. It just left behind a pleasant sense of fulfillment and an inexplicable hollowness. The fulfillment was of being able to make the ride possible against all odds and the subsequent pleasant ride experience. The hollowness, on the other hand, was the usual one I felt after every ride. A ride is a surreal thing for me. Back in the real world I generally feel emotionally drained. This time also it was no different. It was time to find another inspiration. It was time to put the whole experience in words. Writing a travel account is the next best thing to riding, but both have one common enemy, time.

Time is always at a premium and probably that’s why it’s so valued. Time is a multi-faceted term. It has many connotations. Time can be right or wrong, good or bad, or even sweet or sour. The time for this trip probably was not right. The build up was just not ideal. Vishal was just back from a fulfilling ride to Badrinath Dham. I couldn’t go for that ride because of certain issues. Understandably, I was upset. I found solace in planning a new ride. That gave me hope and also went a long way in diluting my frustration. Every single day I surfed the Internet for information on a new route and finally zeroed in on a Delhi-Lansdowne-Pauri-Marchulla-Ramnagar-Moradabad-Delhi ride. I chalked out an extremely feasible 3 day plan but kept the date column blank. By that time Vishal was back from his week long ride to Badrinath. The experiences he shared with me excited me even more. I reached a point where I had to hit the roads to get the desperation and frustration out of my system. There is something about these rides that makes me crazy and even unreasonable. So, I shared my ride plans with Vishal and put the last week of July as the possible window. Vishal, as usual, identified with the excitement and gave his consent. So, I got down to planning all the details and preparing my Bull for the tour. But Vishal gradually went off the boil regarding the ride. Initially, I conveniently ignored it thinking he is a pro by now and I can’t expect the childish excitement every time. But I was wrong. There definitely was a problem and it was completely reasonable. It was the second ride within a month for Vishal and at hind sight, I should have considered that at the outset. When it comes to rides, we guys often forego reason. Our duties and responsibilities towards our respective families come first. I can’t believe how I missed that point at the right time. That probably tells a bit about the level of my desperation. My follies didn’t end there though. When Vishal finally told me that he was not on, I literally forced him into giving it second thoughts. We are no ordinary friends. We go out of ways happily to accommodate each other. But in this case, the time was not right. But Vishal still made it for me. He convinced his family, managed leaves from the office, and finally on the penultimate day (23rd of July), told me that he had made it possible just for my sake. It was a touching gesture and I should’ve been happy, but I was not. I didn’t want him to make a sacrifice for me. All I wanted was the two of us making the ride possible. Throughout the day, the ‘all is not well’ feeling disturbed me. Back home from office, I started packing my cramster saddle bags. Vishal called and enquired about our ‘jugaad’. I happily told him about the double Blenders Pride carefully packed in my bags. Vishal was delighted. He had roped in Dubey, a colleague of his, to be his pillion. That made it a team of four with KC already set to be my pillion. The sense of bitterness felt through the day suddenly vanished as I could feel the usual excitement coming back in to Vishal. After all, a ride is for fun and if your co-rider is not mentally hundred percent, the fun is gone. By then my packing was done. I went down to clean my Bull and put the cover on. Back in the room at around 10 PM I saw a missed call from Vishal. I called him back and heard what I expected the least. Vishal wasn’t going. There was something in his tone that told me that he had made up his mind. It was my chance to rectify the mistakes I had made earlier. So, I swiftly told him that it was ok and he should forget about the ride and take it easy. We put the phones down. I knew it had to be something really big for Vishal to abort the ride at a point where he already had his stuff loaded on the bike. I went blank for a moment or two. The ride was not going to happen. I felt devastated and inconsolable. I desperately wanted to make the ride but there was no point in going alone. I called it off in the mind and went to take a bath. Despite my best efforts not to let my family know about this development till morning, my wife noticed something was wrong. I had to tell her everything and she was extremely upset. She knew how excited I was about the ride and had seen the effort I had put in to make it possible. She urged me to go ahead and ride alone. She said I shouldn’t let all that effort go waste. Her support lifted my sagging spirits and I decided to go alone. Oh! Not alone, KC was still there. I had convinced him for the ride and it would’ve been unfair to hang up on him. So, I was on. I called up KC and informed him about a few changes in the plan. Vishal not being around created a major problem for me. It was the lack of a puncture kit. I couldn’t risk an all terrain ride without a puncture kit. At 11 PM, there was no time for me to collect it from Vishal. The only option left for me was to buy a puncture kit on the way and the place to buy it from had to be Meerut. To find the markets open in Meerut we had to start late and reach by 10 AM. So, instead of 5 AM, I planned to start at 7. With that delay, reaching Pauri on the first day didn’t seem feasible. I decided to keep the ride up to Lansdowne only. The next couple of days we could plan as they dawned. As the last thing, I took the addresses of the RE showrooms in Meerut and Bijnor from the Internet. I had to visit the showroom in Meerut to get details of the puncture kit ‘cos I had no clue about the tool numbers.

So, everything was set and I heaved a sigh of relief. Still there was a slight nervousness as this was the first time I was riding without Vishal for company. If it were not for Vishal, I wouldn’t have been a bullet rider. I learnt all the tricks of the trade from him. My dependency on him reduced with time but I wasn’t completely over it mentally. I thought it was necessary for me to come out of it. I had to prove that I could make a trip without Vishal and tackle all the issues alone. More than anything else it was an issue of self-respect for me at that stage. With lots of conflicting thoughts rolling in the mind, I hit the sack.

Woke up sharp at 5 AM and was ready to roll by 6. My parents, wife, and my four month old son saw me off as I headed for KC’s place. I was fully loaded. Bull looked nice and muscular at the rear with the new MRF Meteor tire. The cramster saddle bags added the tourer feel and my DSG mesh jacket and gloves completed the package. KC saw me and said I looked like the complete rider and that the package looked intimidating. With those complements we set off for NH24. It was still pretty early in the morning so we could cruise at 60-70 kmph without getting caught in too much traffic. The road up to Meerut didn’t have anything worth mentioning. I deliberately used up time to make sure we didn’t reach Meerut before 10. So, we had a prolonged breakfast at Hotel Deepak. It was a good opportunity to catch up on a bit of lost time with KC. We no longer worked in the same office, so the chance to meet on a regular basis was rare. Besides, I had got married and had a child. There was not much time to spare for friends to be honest. We gorged on delicious tandoori paranthas and chit-chatted till it was close to 10. Soon we made it to Meerut city and after threading all the so-called roads, lanes, and by-lanes reached the RE showroom. The relaxed mechanics and workers in the showroom weren’t expecting such an interesting visitor early in the morning. They looked amused and took a lot of interest in my Bull. I got the meter wire replaced and asked for information on the puncture kit. Sonu, a likeable mechanic, thought that Bull’s rear drum had a problem. He was right. For some time now, the rear brake was making a noise every time I hit it. Sonu claimed to fix it for good and I let him. The other mechanic Naim, in the mean time, gave me all the necessary information regarding a puncture kit and also told me where I could find them. I clicked some photos in the garage and all the mechanics and helpers happily posed. I promised to mention them in my trip story. By 11-15 we left for the market nearby and after a bit of searching managed to find all the tools and the all important foot pump. I had left space in the saddle bag for the kit, so it fitted easily. My jacket started drawing a lot of attention in the mean time. People wondered why I was wearing such a big jacket in hot summer. Some queries I avoided with a smile. To the more nagging ones I had to say it was a summer jacket with a lot of air flow. But not all were convinced.

At 12 noon we took the Mawana road towards Bijnor, Najibabad, and Kotdwara. I was a lot relaxed mentally now that I had the puncture kit and started enjoying the ride. Mawana is famous for sugar and it was quite evident in the abundance of sugarcane fields on both sides of the highway. I spotted a buffalo cart every 2 kms on that stretch. All were carrying ripe sugarcane. We soon left Mawana behind and headed for Bijnor. NH119 deserves a special mention here. It’s a near flawless highway with very little traffic and is a bliss compared to the Meerut-Hardwar highway. Closer to Bijnor the road condition only improved with a man-made canal flowing alongside the road. With refreshing greenery all around riding in the plains too became exciting for a change. All the while I missed the other silver electra running ahead of me. Riding without Vishal was no big deal technically. I had reasonable experience to ensure my co-rider’s and my own safety. But I missed my best friend. Paahji, it was just not the same riding without you. Anyway, we stopped by the canal to click some photos. For KC it was a unique experience to travel this far on a bullet. He enjoyed himself thoroughly throughout the journey. I haven’t told you yet that KC hails from Kotdwara. He had been on that highway n number of times in his life. But riding with me on a bullet made him see every bit of the road in new light. Soon we crossed Bijnor town and headed for Najibabad. Roads continued to be excellent as we reached Najibabad in no time. Kotdwara was roughly 25 kms from there and it was just a few minutes past 2 PM on the watch. An under construction road presented the first hurdle of the day but it was for a small stretch. Beyond that patch we suddenly entered a dense forest. I spotted a few road signs warning against wild animals ahead. I thought it was a reserve forest. But KC told me that it was not but it had a few wild animals that occasionally ventured on the road. The entire stretch up to Kotdwara ran through that forest only. I had fallen in love with the road already and that was just like an icing on the cake. Out of nowhere there was this mysterious dark road through a dense forest with crickets singing louder than my Bull’s throttle. There was so much peace and virgin beauty around that I just had to stop and admire. KC had seen all this since childhood, but after staying for a few years in Delhi he seemed to admire these natural resources more than he ever did.

Resting on the road on the way to Kotdwara

Resting on the road on the way to Kotdwara


And I was absolutely mesmerized. I wanted to spend a lifetime in that forest but hunger and thirst forced us to make a move. We had run out of drinking water and forgot to buy it from Najibabad. And in that pristine jungle, the only source of water was a shallow pond that stored rainwater. I took a few deep breaths and inhaled the jungle aroma as much as I could before I started Bull and headed for Kotdwara. Closer to Kotdwara I got the first glimpse of the Garhwal hills. Lansdowne from there is a climb of 45 kms. From my experience I knew that 45 kms on the hills could be a pretty grueling ride. It could take us anything between 2 to 3 hrs to reach Lansdowne. It was 3 PM on the watch and we decided to have our lunch. KC took me to his once favorite eating joint. After a quick wash up I called home and informed of my well being. KC had ordered lunch in the meantime. A light meal topped up with a delicious glass of lassi was just ideal for the time of the day. Thoroughly energized I geared up for the last stretch of our ride, the one I looked forward to the most. The main incentive in any ride for me is always the part on the hills. There can be nothing like twisting and turning on a heavily loaded bullet on winding mountain roads. On the mountain roads one gets to feel the real power and control of a bullet. The true test of man and machine is always on the steep climbs.

KC guided me to the road to Lansdowne and within a kilometer the climb started. The horizon changed magically in front of my eyes. I was riding with the hill on one side and a small stream on the other. There were amazing rock formations along the slope on both sides. Some were natural while some were created by landslides. Between all that, the road was amazingly smooth.

Resting under the rocks on the way to Lansdowne

Resting under the rocks on the way to Lansdowne


The climb was not radical to start with and I wasn’t surprised. I didn’t expect Lansdowne to be too high (on records it’s roughly 3500 ft ASL). But there were a few surprises in store for me. We glided smoothly along the winding road for about 20 kms and then noticed another change. The regular forest made way for towering pine trees on both sides. The climb too got steeper and steeper as we thundered along. Bull settled down nicely on the third gear with the occasional downshift to 2nd. On my Renuka ride I had got a fair idea of Bull’s strength as he pulled two riders plus luggage effortlessly on some decent climbs. But this time the climbs were steeper with multiple hairpin bends and if anything, the luggage was a lot heavier. But the tough guy didn’t flinch. We twisted and turned and twisted again gleefully and in the process also overtook a few slower vehicles.

My respect for Bull grows with every ride. Every time I set his limits he exceeds them. So, we were thoroughly enjoying the ride and the abundant natural resources of the Garhwal hills. At places the beauty was so engrossing that we just had to stop to admire and click photos. As we got within 10 kms of Lansdowne the weather grew extremely cloudy. Thick bunches of clouds flew everywhere. They fully engulfed the road in some places. Visibility was reduced so much that I had to take my sun shades off and switch on the headlight. The clouds were accompanied by a sudden cold wave that sent shivers down our spines. We were obviously transported to a different world. It was extremely difficult to see the vehicles coming from the opposite direction but thankfully, their number was very low. KC took me by surprise when he said had never been to Lansdowne before despite spending all his life in Kotdwara. He said he didn’t have a clue that Lansdowne was so high up on the hills and that clouds played such refreshing tricks on the way. I couldn’t believe what he said. He stayed within 50 kms of a place that could give Mussourie or Nainital a run for their money and he never bothered to visit it. Really hard to fathom!

The man - The machine

The man - The machine


My Bull stepped on the fallen pine leaves

My Bull stepped on the fallen pine leaves


I could see why people rated Lansdowne so highly as a monsoon abode. Not everywhere do clouds come down so low and create an aura as if you were up somewhere in the 10,000 ft ASL range. Truly amazing experience it was. It was what I had made this trip for. To see it rain buckets full in unexplored and unexploited mountains. I had got more than what I wished for. I was in a state of pure euphoria. Riding no longer was a conscious effort on my part. My Bull and I were one with the surroundings. Later I did regret not stopping at the places where the clouds were at their thickest, but the feel of tiny droplets hitting my face as I cut through the clouds was so enthralling that I just didn’t want to stop. I didn’t want the road to end but it soon did. A huge road sign welcomed us in to heavenly Lansdowne.
That's my buddy KC

That's my buddy KC


The kind of feeling I got on reaching Lansdowne was similar to what I felt on reaching Ranikhet during our Karnaprayag ride or was it better? People walking on the roads wearing sweaters greeted us as KC shivered in his shirt. I was served well by my jacket though. Where Lansdowne is different from Mussourie or Nainital is in the scarcity of hotels. It’s not near as popular as a tourist destination as those places are. There are only a couple of standard resorts in the entire area and a couple of budget hotels near the bus stand. And there is also a GMVN tourist bungalow at the highest point of Lansdowne. But we obviously got a room in one of the budget hotels.

So, we were finally in Lansdowne. First thing, I called home and informed that I had reached safely and also, enquired about my son. After a soothing cup of tea we went out to savor the beauty of Lansdowne in fading light. When entering in to Lansdowne, we had seen the towering gate of the Garhwal Rifles headquarters. The entire town is run by the army. The only school that is there is an army school. The hospital too is an army hospital. The civilians run a small market and that caters to the everyday needs of the residents. We strolled through the market for a while and also had a look around the residential areas of the town. Lansdowne seemed to have a lot of potential for investors. There was a lot of scope for improvement. By improvement I don’t mean commercializing it in the line of Shimla. But a place that doesn’t have a single petrol pump should look to improve. Talking nonstop while walking up and downhill we started huffing and puffing. I knew my fitness had hit an all time low. But after a long day of riding, the walk did wonders to our bodies as all the stiffness diminished. It was 7-30 on the watch. It was time to get back to the hotel and surrender ourselves to Blenders Pride. I told you about the two bottles earlier. Well, one I had offloaded in Delhi itself as Vishal didn’t make the trip. The other one was eagerly waiting in my bag to be honored. KC and I got busy buying soda, Pepsi, pakoras, ice cubes, and a wide variety of snacks for our luxury within a luxury. Oh Paahji! I miss you again. Back in the room we ordered chili chicken also. When we got all our stuff spread on the bed, it looked like a small time shop. I took the bottle out of the bag and made the first drink with a lot of care. Then we made ourselves comfortable and watched James Bond’s Golden Eye on TV. By 11 we had eaten and drank so much that we didn’t feel like having dinner. As the movie ended, we dozed off. The plan for the next day was to explore Lansdowne in the first half and then to ride down to Kotdwara and reach KC’s place by sunset. KC had planned to stay on at home for two days, so I was to ride back home alone on Sunday.

Next morning, we took our time in moving out of the hotel as it was raining. By the time we got ready and went down to the restaurant for breakfast, the rain had eased. We set off by 10 AM and headed straight for Bulla Lake, one of the premier tourist attractions of Lansdowne. The weather was cool and cloudy owing to the rain and it was fun riding on some really steep climbs on the first gear. Bulla Lake is an artificial lake nestled in a gorge. Although it’s not huge, it looked beautiful in combination with the surroundings. Lansdowne came across as a very neat and uncrowded place. The kind of place people would like to go to on a long relaxing vacation. There is not much to do apart from walking around on neat and clean roads and breathing fresh air. Next, we headed off for Tip-n-Top, Lansdowne’s highest point. The view from that place is breathtaking. The far reaching pine forests and hamlets along the mountains looked awesome. But the main attraction at Tip-n-Top is the GMVN tourist bungalow. People visiting Lansdowne should look to stay in that place. It’s so very different from a regular hotel. The couple of tree houses are the main attraction there. The view from the glass windows will be breathtaking at any time of the day. One can book this bungalow from the tourism office in Delhi.

After Tip-n-Top, we visited the century old St. John’s church. So, in short, that was Lansdowne, small, clean, and attractive. There isn’t much to be written about but there is a lot to be physically experienced. We decided to make a move for Kotdwara. It had started drizzling again and just as we reached the Garhwal Rifles headquarters, it started pouring down. We took shelter in the CSD canteen and thankfully there was a pretty good eating joint inside. We enjoyed hot cups of tea and bread omelets and the company of the Army jawans as long as it rained. We were wet and cold but really happy. Lansdowne had dished out all it had in our honor and the last thing was this torrential downpour. It looked like the entire town had taken a bath as the rain stopped. Everything looked clean and washed. So, we got started again. Descending on hills is always fun if the road is good and in this case it was. It was really exciting negotiating the hairpin bends with my heavily loaded Bull. I thought the extra weight kept Bull really steady on the slopes. Soon we left the hairpin bends behind and also the Sun came out. From there the ride up to Kotdwara was a 60 kmph cruise. We reached Kotdwara in flat one and a half hours. KC’s place was a further 12 kms from Kotdwara town and the road wasn’t impressive. There were too many badly built speed breakers to start with. I jumped over most of them as there was no point breaking every 200 meters. The speed breakers were not too high to my comfort and my heavy machine breezed over them. Still it was extremely irritating I must say. Midway through, the road ran through a river bed. It would be better not to call it a road. Every monsoon, the raging river washed the road away, so the authorities were in the process of building a bridge. But for the time being, it was just the semblance of a path across uneven rocks and boulders. A puncture was my only worry but thankfully all was ok as we crossed that stretch. KC nonchalantly told me that there was another such stretch before we reached his place. I said ‘awesome’ and he laughed. The second stretch, if anything, was longer but we managed to keep out of trouble. If I kept the worries aside, riding through the river bed was a great experience. I thought the experience would keep me in good stead for my Ladakh ride next year. Little did I know that there was something even more exciting and challenging in store for me.

KC had told me about Kanvashram that was situated pretty close to his house. That place is believed to be the birth place of Raja Bharat, after who out country is named. As it was just 4 PM we decided to explore Kanvashram. But KC forgot to tell me that the ashram was across a mountain river and one had to cross the river to reach it, and there was no bridge, I might add. We reached the shallow river and I looked at KC. He looked unperturbed and said people cross this river on bikes everyday. That was fine but I had a heavy bullet fully loaded with luggage and two riders. I thought if I got struck in the middle of that decent 20 feet wide river, there will be nobody to help me with the bike. There was not a soul around at that time of the day. After deliberating for a while I decided to experience my first river crossing. I spotted a shallow stretch that had seemingly uniform spreading of rocks and boulders and thought I could try from there. I offloaded KC and he jumped on the boulders to reach the other end. Then, I headed steadily for the river and shook and twisted and balanced Bull to reach the other side safely. Being able to cross the river gave me a lot of satisfaction. It was like another feather in my cap.

The river crossing

The river crossing


Anyway, we proceeded towards Kanvashram that was on a hillock on the bank of the river. We parked Bull at the base of the hillock and took the stairs. The place looked incredibly wild and deserted. Not many visited the ashram or walked those tracks. We found a lonely sage in the ashram and he had a lot of grievances. From what the sage told us, the ashram held a lot of religious and historical significance and it was a pity so much negligence was meted out to it. We left the ashram after a while and headed for another ashram come residential school nearby. That particular ashram was run by a former wrestler and looked like having a decent infrastructure. A bunch of kids were playing cricket in the yard as we rode straight in to the campus. All the residents around were surprised to see us. We went ahead and introduced ourselves and they welcomed us wholeheartedly. I played some cricket with the boys as KC captured me on camera. It was an out of the world experience to visit that quiet little institution in the middle of the jungle where very few bothered to venture. I really thought the people running the ashram were doing a service to the society. We had to make a move soon as it was getting dark and we had to cross the river again.
Playing cricket with the kids

Playing cricket with the kids


On our return journey, I asked KC to shoot a video as I crossed the river. The video turned out to be an eventful one with me taking a wrong way across the bank up to the river before going back to the right track. It was not possible to cross the river through just anywhere. So, I crossed it through the same area I used the first time round and made it safely to the other side. KC’s live commentary added extra life to the video. After that wild experience, we headed for KC’s house. What an excellent day of riding it was. I had done some serious offroading at a place where it was least expected. A day I thought would be pretty relaxing turned out to be reasonably grueling. I took a nice and relaxing bath on reaching KC’s house and then enjoyed the hot cups of tea aunty prepared for us. As darkness slowly set in, we headed to the roof. There we sat and chatted for long hours with one eye on the mountains adjoining the border of the village. Last night, we were somewhere on top of those mountains. At around 9 PM we came down for dinner. KC’s brother joined us as we watched TV and chit-chatted on a variety of topics. Dinner was over soon and I decided to hit the sack early as I planned to start early next morning. Set the alarm at 4-30 AM and went off to sleep.

So, the last day of the ride dawned. KC and aunty too were up at 4-30. Aunty forced me to have breakfast before leaving but I had to politely decline as I was not used to eating anything so early in the morning. After a nice cup of tea I took leave from KC’s family and hit the road. The prospect of riding alone was not too encouraging and I just wanted to make it to Delhi as fast as possible. I negotiated the river beds again and made it safely to Kotdwara town. As I entered the dense forest on the way to Najibabad I felt really good again. Apart from the stray truck, I had nothing else for company at 6-30 AM. It was just my Bull and I, a sleepy dark forest, and a winding foggy road. I kept on crooning a favorite song of mine as I settled to a cruise. Bull was breathing really well in clean air and felt really smooth. As I left that forest behind, the surroundings grew slightly dull. But the road was still good and empty and the momentum was with me. I made it to Meerut by 9-30 AM with just one water break. Had a nice breakfast of cutlets and lassi in Meerut and embarked on the last phase of my ride. I was comfortably home by 12 noon.

As I found time to look back on the ride, I thought it was excellent. Having Vishal for company would have been more fun. But not having him around was a lot more exciting. I narrated the whole experience to Vishal and I am sure he felt emotions identical to the ones I felt on listening to his Badrinath experience. When you are two riders in a team, you are bound to compete against each other. We may not agree but Vishal and I too compete against each other when it comes to riding fast or decision making or guiding one another or even preparing for a ride. This competitive mentality inspires us to improve all the time. Vishal doesn’t have much room for improvement though (perfection ko improve karna mushkil hota hai). As for me, I am not yet in his league but I am making good ground. I’ll keep pushing him all the way.

Thank you for reading through.

Riders:
1. Anandarup Nandi riding a silver bullet electra 4S.
2. Kalicharan Singh Bisht (KC) as pillion.

11 Comments

  • rachel says:

    nice post… keep it up…

  • Pradeep says:

    Good description of your trip.It was very exciting and informative

  • Sampoorna Mehta says:

    Any idea on how the roads are these days given the recent heavy rains? Planning a road trip to that place.

  • Patrick Jones says:

    In my younger days it was a ritual to walk up and down all the way in a long-distance train, to kill boredom. When I entered the first coach of this train, I found it to be first class. However, looking at the unending coaches in front of me, I beat a hasty retreat.

    May be I’m getting too old ;-)

  • Nandan Jha says:

    PJ – make it less cryptic and dont scare people :-). Sometimes you just need to sustain and do the drudgery hoping good things will happen, and they do happen. You missed on some of the fresh jokes. I liked the one which says ……..it looked like a shop…..

    Anandarup – Very very involved bit of writing, I have been to these roads but only on four wheelers so while I can imagine what you felt, I didn’t have the privilege myself. Your detailed post compensated for the loss.

    All the best !!

    • Anandarup Nandi says:

      Thanks Nandan, I think Patrick made a hidden point about the sheer length of the write-up. A travelogue shouldn’t scare people away by its size. That would be truly tragic. Making one travelogue different from the other when the experiences are essentially similar is the biggest challenge for a writer. In my attempt to cover the emotions associated with the preparations, I dragged the prologue too long. But the length can be justified if it provided readers with a peek into Vishal and me as individuals. We are an exclusive team, we are the FOOTLOOSE RIDERS. Going forward, you can expect a write-up for each of our rides. If readers get to know us better with each write-up, I would feel vindicated. And I really like it when you comment on my work. Thanks so much!

  • nandanjha says:

    :-)

    I think more photos, smaller paragraphs make it more readable, without cutting any text.

    Patrick is an admirer of road-trips :-) Looking fwd to next one.

    • Anandarup Nandi says:

      Yeah, that’s a valid point. I didn’t give much thought to the presentation :) ‘ll be careful next time.

      And yeah, I know Patrick to be very active and encouraging. I thought his was a constructive feedback and that’s really appreciated.

      It’s really encouraging to indulge in a discussion on the quality, readability, and presentation of a write-up. It’ll surely help me improve.

      • Patrick Jones says:

        :-)

        That comment was made with lot of apprehensions as normally happens with negative kind of opinions. Nandans stern warning (!) touched my already tingling nerves.

        I try not to make adverse comments (give a low rating, pal). However, at times such as this, its hard not to make one. Its clear from the first paragraph itself that the writer holds a promising future and so a little guidance (?) would be helpful.

        Im glad Anandarup took it in the right spirit.

  • Anandarup Nandi says:

    Yeah Patrick, you are so very right! Sorry I couldn’t respond to yr earlier comment. Actually Nandan had already countered it :)) Thanks for wishing me a bright future as a writer. I am no great writer but writing is something I take seriously. A good feedback always helps. There is no point in just saying ‘nice story…..very nicely described’. That doesn’t tell you much. That’s why yr response is so valued (just like ‘time’, ha ha).

    Personally, I believe the treatment is the problem with this write-up more than the length. When reading a travelogue, readers wish to go straight in to the real thing (I certainly do so). I just dragged the emotional interplay a bit too far. That’s my understanding. If you think the quality of writing too wasn’t up to the mark do let me know. I promise you a better piece the next time round. Cheers mate!

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