You really cannot do a trip like this and return to your day to day life without finding that it has changed in so many different ways. The mountains have a way of putting you in your place. You find that for all the big money that you earn at the end of the month and the fancy joints that you frequent across town and the hundreds of people that are below you on the corporate ladder, a stray rock fall or some loose gravel on a dangerous turn will ensure that it is curtains for you. You start appreciating life for what it really is.
I was talking to a friend of mine who had covered the entire region with his buddies after hiring a cab a couple of years ago and he too went through the exact process after returning to his ‘normal’ life. The thing is though, life doesn’t let you get back to the old normal. The mountains give you a rush and it’s like your eyes and your mind have finally been opened. The Himalayas then represent the red pill from the Matrix. It’s the painful truth of reality about the world we live in but often see through the wrong pair of glasses.
“I been to mushroom mountain
Once or twice but who's countin'
But nothing compares
To these blue and yellow purple pills”
Purple Pills – D12
After leaving Manali I encountered several signs which made me stop, smile and reflect on the whole trip and what it really meant.
Sign # 1 – I was in a car on the way to the Delhi airport when I heard the rumble of an approaching Bullet. Instinctively my mind knew that it couldn’t be the Man who didn’t know which football club to support as he used to potter around on his bike and the revs that I heard certainly didn’t match his style. It wasn’t My favourite couple of all time, as they used to give the Bullet the stick and this bike sounded more subdued. It cetainly wasn’t Vishal as he drove all out all the time. And then it struck me, I was in Delhi and our group wasn’t riding any longer..…
Sign # 2 – I was wheeling my suitcases out of the Bangalore airport when I heard the couple behind me say something rather interesting. Instinctively my eyes darted to the left and right of my hands that were on the trolley, searching for the rear view mirrors to get a glimpse of this couple. And then it struck me, I was in Bangalore and I wasn’t holding onto the handlebars of my Bullet …..
Sign # 3 – The main road near my place was finally getting tarred but in its current semi prepared state, it was a dangerous mix of loose gravel and fine sand. Something that I would have avoided like the plague earlier. And then it struck me, after what we had been through, this was the equivalent of a leisurely stroll through the biking park and I looked at it with a devious gleam in my eye.
Sign # 4 – I was glad that the trip had renewed my passion for biking and started my bike (the simple pleasure of using an electric start after two weeks of kick starting the Bullet is indescribable) which I have owned for the last four years but strangely it felt all wrong for the next couple of days. I was so tuned to the upright seating position of the Bullet that this sporty posture had my body in all sorts of discomfort. The pin point braking had me really worried because my body wasn’t used to this sudden retardation and I had to relearn how to balance myself to counteract this. The acceleration now matched the twists of the throttle and there was no delay while the bike said to itself “Ok then, time for me to get to work and pick up the pace. On second thoughts, maybe in a minute or so” And finally there was no deafening rumble to shake the windows off my neighbours houses. And then it stuck me, I would certainly miss the Bullet.
Author’s note – This marks the end of what certainly has been the most challenging writing exercise that I have ever embarked upon. I ended up clocking a shade under 30k words on this travelogue and it certainly was great fun writing about the wonderful trip and the great people I met. Bouquets and brickbats are most welcome so if you have any thoughts to share about the travelogue or the writing please leave a comment or two. And yes, I know the posts were long. If you thought it took you time to read it, imagine how much time it took me to write the whole thing!