Some days are different.
On most days, you wake up, go to work, come back, enjoy with family, sleep. The same scolding of boss, the same travel, the same routine – the same life. On most days.
But some days are really different. You know they are rare, and once they come to an end, they will leave with nothing but longing memories. Today was one such day for me. Today I would be leaving for Wrangler’s True Wanderer contest! I would be competing against the best tourers in the country for best trip and travelogue. And how do I start this most awaited day? By sleeping till late, of course. Somehow, my body doesn’t care what state of mind I am in. When it needs rest, it rests. The hell with the owner’s plans.
I was starting pretty late today, the flag off was scheduled at 2.30 P.M. So late in the afternoon usually means you can’t ride too far that day. I had a choice of returning back home and starting the next day. But my old fashioned mind refused to accept that idea, and thus I planned to leave on the same day.
As inevitable, till last minute the packing went on. It has become such a routine now; that if at all I am packed in advance, I would think I am in a dream. So here I was, packing at full speed with wife’s and mom’s help, going through the list of things one more time. Laptop – charger – mobile – charger – camera – charger – damn these chargers. Wish there would be just one BIG connector that is common to all. My backpack is now carrying nothing but gizmos and toys!
The day’s itinerary was simple. Go to Wrangler showroom about 1.00 P.M., select the denim and wear it, have a few pictures clicked, and then flag off. Well, at least on paper it seemed alright. But making it true in reality was much difficult than anticipated. First was the before mentioned regular lag. Thus we reached at Wrangler at 2.00 P.M., rather than 1 P.M., effectively postponing all the rest of the agenda. Parking is as usual problematic on FC road – for the uninitiated, one of the busiest and ‘hip’ roads in Pune. I was told to park in front of Wrangler Showroom. When I returned after a while, the bike was gone! Damn those traffic cops, I thought, this is the day when they follow all rules! But it seemed the helper at Wrangler had moved it aside.
The Wrangler showroom people received us well. Mr.Ashish, a senior official of Wrangler was present, and he was personally attending me. I picked up a faded styled denim from their collection. The idea is that the wanderer will wear the same denim for the next 7 days, and the present it back the Wrangler showroom. This is for the promotion of their new series ‘True Wanderers’ that wears a truly rugged look. I am curious how my denim would look after 7 days! After picking up the denim, the photography session started. Felt great to be the center of attention! Felt as if I am getting married again! Even at the time of marriage, I suspect my wife was more the center than I, but this she never agrees. Anyway, so we got our denim, got the pictures clicked, and got flagged off in style.
It was almost 4.00P.M. b the time I left Wrangler showroom, and I was 1 hour behind schedule. The day’s running was not much though. In fact, as stated before, none of the rides in this tour are going to be super human one. They are planned to be easily doable, so that anyone can pick something up from this itinerary and leave on his bike.
Nandinee came to see me off for some distance, when it slowly started raining. What started as a drizzle, soon took form of a heavy rain, and washed out everything thoroughly, including my grand plans of photography. This photo was taken by Nandinee, before she took a U turn with teary eyes.
Pune to Mulshi is the same mechanical route. Dodge bigger vehicles – avoid pot holes – watch out for wandering pedestrians – repeat. This patch hasn’t changed in its character for many years. The development on this patch is amazing though. With many new banglow plots and ‘holiday homes’ I wonder how long can this little road will hold up against the increasing traffic.
It was raining constantly, with varying intensity of raindrops. I would otherwise get wet inside out, but the Duckback raincoat was doing its job perfectly. Duckback company makes one of the most dull looking rainsheeters that history of mankind has seen. A tea-picker’s bamboo cover has much more style element than this. But when it comes to utility, that is saving the wearer from rain, few could hold a candle against Duckback. I have been using it for more than 4 years now, and I can easily recommend this brand to anyone who values staying dry over looking cool and wet.
As I put some kilometers between myself and Pune, the sky became clear, and though the drops were still falling, they were mostly in form of drizzle. I sneaked a few photographs this time.
But Tamhini ghaat is notoriously famous for its false indications of weather. One turn and you are in dry area, another one, and you are looking at foggy rain clouds. This ride was no different, and I was expecting it. Whenever the rain gods gave me smile, I clicked the scenery.
I used to think that Maharashtra rides would only be interesting in and after the rains, as after Jan-Feb, it is all dried grass everywhere. But in this rain, everything was getting washed out. The trees were looking all spanking clean and green, the rocks nicely polished red, and the yellow grass now forming lumps that looked amazing on the black rock’s backdrop. It was a riot of colors, yellow lumps of grass, black rock, red soil, green trees – it was amazing. I half expected the famous Tamhini waterfalls to be atleast making their presense felt by now, but they are yet to come. If the rains continue, in one month Tamhini will be full to the brims with tourists getting soaked up in the waterfalls.
The customary shot of Tamhini valley – Ghal
I rode hard to catch a particularly photograph. After this ghaat, we are connected to State Highway 60, which goes through some amazing route. One particular turn goes through rocky hills from both the sides, and I am yet to see someone who doesn’t exclaim ‘Need for speed!’ while going through them. The turn resembles the game that well.
There was a time when this SH 60 was smooth. I remember riding through bumby Tamhini ghaat for the smooth twisties on this road. Alas, now the situation is reversed. The roads in Tamhini are mostly in shape, and the SH60 is properly banged up. The road quality deteriorates significantly, once we cross over from ghaat to SH. But paying no heed to that, I rode ahead. But the rains increased so much by then, I worried whether the photography would be possible in this trip or not. Luckily, the rain gave me a window of a few minutes just when I was passing through that section. Here it is, the NFS road of Tamhini:
My stop for tonight was ‘Lake Resort, Sutarwadi’. I continued on the road, crossing Vile to head towards Kolad. The map said it is after 12 kilometers from Vile. It is indeed within that range, and I was standing outside its gate at about 7.00 P.M. I was pretty dry, but the tankbag and saddlebags were thoroughly soaked up. They showed me my room, and before I could check in, SNAP, the lights are gone.
No matter, I thought, fetching a chair to sit in the Verandah, hoping the electricity would come back again. 5…10…20 minutes, no sign of electricity. Man made, that is. God’s electricity was having a field day. With 3D surround and dolby special effects the God’s drums were playing their beat in full form. It was damn scary to us mere mortals. The fury continued for quite some time. It was about 9.00 that the lights finally came, when I had given up any hope for them.
It is now 11.30 P.M. After a filling dinner at the dining hall, I am typing on the laptop. I should sleep now, but now my mind is taking revenge on the body and refusing to sleep, filling me up full of thoughts.
This ride brings many new things that have not been done by me in any of my past rides. In all rides, I wrote the travelogue after returning from the trip. I had all the time in the world to compose, to select photos etc. In fact, some of the travelogues are posted after 7-8 months of ride. But on this ride, I am supposed to update daily! Well, daily connection of internet in the areas I have planned is a long term plan of government, but I sure do expect to write daily, and upload as and when I get the network.
Another new thing about this ride is that, this is mine and Vesta’s first ride without my wife as pillion. Vesta tours and travels always meant us three, but this time as it was not allowed, I and Vesta are touring together.
The hotel seems nice. A family manages the property. The rooms are surroundings are clean, with each room housing 3-4 beds. I am now going to sleep on 4 beds in total! There is no range of any mobiles save for occasional BSNL and Tata ones. After getting used to electricity and mobiles and internet connection at the moment’s notice in town, it is going to be a wonderful wandering where I am no longer connected by radiations!