While on Rajasthan tour, I had played it safe and booked hotels for each and every stop beforehand. While this greatly helped in avoiding anxiety of finding hotels after a long ride, it put pressure on us to reach the destination no matter what. We once road 470kms a day to reach Udaipur because our hotel was already booked and paid for. Had it not been the case, we would have definitely stayed much earlier, and continued the journey on next day. Learning from this lesson, we didn’t book any hotels on this trip. Not only because this was off season, as all parents were busy preparing for their kids’ final exams, but also we had own transport and could hunt for hotels easily, should the need arise. And this strategy greatly helped us maintain flexibility on the itinerary. Thus booking the hotels was not on the list. But the other things that needed attention were not getting either.
There was no free weekend for us to tidy up things, or to dedicatedly work towards the planning of trip. We had to steal little time each day towards the trip. The days turned into minutes, and went by at full speed. Each night we would say to each other:
‘We should pack soon…’
‘We should be packed by this weekend.’
‘Let’s start at least putting stuff together.’
‘Hell, can we just buy clothes there and throw them away after use?’
While our petty packing was taking its own sweet time, another drama was setting up nicely, and popped up bang in front of us, knocking us cold. On this trip, the big things were playing nicely, and never troubled us. But the small tiny things were in full swing, and each fought nicely and gave us black eye. For example, license, RC book and PUC. Three extremely small things in terms size, and at the same time the most important documents for an interstate motorcycle ride. (Insurance document is another, but it was found easily.)
Just a week prior to the ride, we both cleared our car driving test. The RTO took both of our licenses for appending them for car driving. A day before our train would leave, suddenly a question hit us: I don’t have any identity card anymore. Pan card was missing, License was with RTO. What if a policeman stops and asks for ID? What if the bike is picked up from some No Parking zone in Kerala, and we need at least one of our licenses?! Damn it!
Now, my residential address in Mumbai, and currently we are in Pune. The license was at RTO Mumbai. To add twist to the tale, mine being an old license, it was taking time to prepare and only Nandinee’s license was ready. But something was better that bilkul nothing. After a huge deal of arranging and indefinite number of calls, the license was delivered to Pune by our very own state transport driver, and we rode using Nandinee’s license only!
Next came the RC book. For transporting your bike using Railways, RC book is utmost important. As expected, it chose to hide from us right till the last day. And it being so tiny, finding it in a house full of random stuff is a job perfect for someone testing the limits of their patience. I severely failed in my patience test, and ended up in upending (hey… nice rhyme!) the house. After bearing enough of my drama, Nandinee finally couldn’t take it anymore, and threw me out to search in my office drawers. There it was, that tiny white bastard, hidden deep in some random envelop. That was a major bummer of that day.
Lastly, the PUC certificate. I could bet my tiny savings so far, that I made one hardly a week ago. But that yellow chit refused to come out of its hiding spot. But unlike RC book, it could have alternatives, and I had to make a new one just before submitting the bike to Railways, to avoid any trouble in Kerala. After returning, of course, the old one popped itself out on the desk. Damn these little things bugged us to death.
Our train was on Saturday, leaving at 11.10 PM. We submitted our bike to Pune station luggage office at about 8.30 PM. In Mumbai, there is an unbelievable & unbearable nexus of agents that you have to fight through. Here the job is done by Railway Babus themselves! Rs.300 over and above the bike’s ticket covers the packing and booking of the bike without any hassles. What about loading it in train? – hey, that costs extra!
At 11.00 PM, we were in a Rickshaw cheering up the driver to ride faster, keeping an eye on the watch that suddenly seemed running twice at fast, carrying a number of bags that seemed unearthly for only two persons. The jackets and knee-guards and helmets, while necessary on bike, took a great amount of space when not worn. Until we actually put everything on the bike to start the tour, I couldn’t believe we could carry all this stuff and ride too!
At 11.10 PM, luggage thrown on our seats in the train, my heart beating in its upper range – having to run the length of the platform and back to check the proper loading of bike, and wide smiles on our faces, we left Pune. Riding or no riding, it was the longest tour we have ever taken. Next 15 days were ours. No calls to take, no assignments to complete, no deadlines to meet, just me, Nandinee and Vesta.