Riding my son's KTM 290 to work. No big deal except Dadar, Mumbai is where I call home and this time, office is Okhla Industrial Estate, Delhi! Just one way 1400 kilometres plus. It's 0400 hours and I've started out of a seedy lodge in Ahmedabad where I'd checked in at 0100 hours. Now three hours later I was in the saddle leaving behind a roach-infested room.
I'm bound for Jaipur via Udaipur. It's bitter cold. Despite the helmet, gloves, riding jacket and jeans, I feel naked. The KTM feels good - powerful and steady but the headlights are lousy. Trucks, tractors and trailers troll the highway without tail lights. Can't see the road...and the headlights from oncoming vehicles blind you. Ride slow and you'll never reach anywhere.
My thoughts drift to why I even undertook this commute... Uncommon stress in my personal life and my soul calls - "hit the road". Andrea (wife) permits, Tsunami (daughter) and Storm (son) approve. So I get Sushma (my EA) and Nitika (client end) to cancel air tickets.
Was I afraid of the distance, danger and elements? Ha, you got to be kidding. Me, scared? Terrified is more like it. What terrifies me --- breakdown, fatigue or accident especially in the night or early morning. Also I'm comfortable with my Bullet, but needed something faster so I opt for the KTM. And Ralph Waldo Emerson's words inspire... "Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain."
Terrified as I decide to tempt death and disability. But the road and solitude (riding solo) does the soul good.
Last evening (Saturday) the ride from Mumbai to Ahmedabad was unenjoyable - the KTM and I weren't a couple. I had my fears/ insecurities to deal with while learning how to treat her. But having spent our first night together we understood each other better. By Sunday 0630 hrs I was opening the throttle and she flew. On occasion when some villager in Rajasthan treated the road like a village path, I had to rein her in and she responded - no slipping, sliding or skidding. The road was awesome and picturesque. So I took some time for selfies, chats with locals and chai at dhabas.
Jaipur to Delhi, the highway turned boring and the smog hit well before nightfall. Had the experience of racing against the notorious Haryana state transport bus driver and actually losing to him on a crowded road. Mind-blowing.
Ginger Faridabad was my abode and 29 hours later I pulled in. Safe and alive. Then four days of coaching senior management for one of my favourite partners Azure Hospitality and a dressing down from Mr Mata, VP HR (a father figure) for undertaking a ride "fraught with risk and danger."
Thursday evening I was back on the road bound for Mumbai. The KTM and I were now going steady. Sure, we had our share of downs like the time I was nearing Ahmedabad fatigued and nearly rode into a roundabout (circle) but when I asked her to stop at short notice she did. I actually felt the ABS kick in. Or the time in Udaipur, when an elderly gent swerved for no apparent reason, she swung and stabilised like she never was off balance. Well, I reached home after a 32 hour sojourn. The last leg, about an hour, was actually conducted in my sleep.
The body was tortured. It had endured cold, heat, hunger (keeps you alert), physical pain (wrist and butt) but that's what I needed. My belief --- "Break the body. Torture it. It clears the mind, heals the heart and liberates the soul. And the body - it rebuilds itself even stronger."
When I pass the KTM she looks at me longingly. But I'm not going to cheat on my Bullet with her again. I promised my Bullet I'd take her up into the Himalayas soon. Till then I'm cooling my butt and healing my wrist.