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Author Topic: Excerpt from my new book:  (Read 767 times)


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Excerpt from my new book:
« on: September 06, 2012, 11:48:19 pm »
Call of the Thunder Dragon- A Motorcycle Journey to Bhutan
Chapter 1
A Fool Wanders
A Wise Man Travels

Itís been 3 years since I physically came back from the Ladakh ride. Mentally, Iím often still there. You wouldnít know it if you saw me sitting in my chair, eyes closed, apparently playing footsie with myself, but chances are youíre only seeing the shell. Iím not inside. Either Iím away re-trudging the 10000 feet high undulating desert road of the Morey plains or then, I could be on Khardung La, being re-chilled to the bone by my glacier-soaked shoes and socks. It might be hot summerís day in Pune, 38 degrees C outside, but not for me. I am sitting on that large black rock overlooking Suraj Tal, cleaning snow from the sole. One way to beat the heat! Or another to fool oneself.

Nostalgia is enjoyable but Iím satiated with three years of wading through it. An urge to get back on the road is beginning to grip me again. Probably what migratory birds feel in their insides a few days before they finally embark on those long, long flights? Birds have an advantage in that they seem to know exactly where to go and when. I donít. Various destinations are vying for first place in my mind. Jaisalmer almost wins, but the image of a lone rider on an arrow-straight road, cutting through a stark brown desert gets pushed into second place by His Majesty King Wangchuk of Bhutan.
This is how it happens. Channel-surfing, I pause on a popular news network to admire a charming, sari-clad woman with a diamond-studded nose and Madhubala-lips. The camera then moves to focus on the person she is conversing with. A handsome, regal middle aged man, dressed in an unusual, maroon coloured, knee length, checked-tweed garment is talking in the calm and unhurried manner of someone used to being listened to. Interested, I put the remote down and watch. The lady is addressing him as Your Majesty. Then a bottom caption confirms that it is indeed royalty I am listening to. His Royal Highness Jigme Singye Wangchuk, King of Bhutan.
He is saying that not GNP (Gross National Product) but Gross National Happiness (GNH) should be the true measure of a societyís progress. While economic prosperity was important, richer countries are not necessarily happier ones. He suggests it was GNH that was the real indicator of a countryís growth.
When the kingís speech is over, I get thinking on how it would be to ride to Bhutan. Postpone Jaisalmer to next yearÖ. Thatís not really a long ride Ö. Just 1500 kilometresÖ.   Want to go at least double that distanceÖ must allow time for the road to seep into the bonesÖ Bhutan must be fascinatingÖÖ3000 kms. Perfect.

Iíve decided on a mid-October departure. The schools will not have not yet closed and my case load will not be heavy. It is during the holidays that the clinic turns busy. Octobers are a good month to be riding a motorcycle across India for reasons of weather too. The blistering heat of the summer has been subdued by three months of rain. Itís still hot but not uncomfortably so. Trees have fresh foliage so roads have grottos of shade ideal for those short halts. The rivers and lakes are full. Harvests have been reaped and festivity and abundance is in the air. The major festivals of Durga Puja and Dussera are just around the corner and Diwali is coming up, October signals the beginning of the happy season in India.
ďBut BabaÖ. Why on a motorcycle? So unsafe. What are you trying to prove? Why canít you just take the train?Ē asks Juhi who has just stepped into her teens and is convinced I am a bit crazy. She knows that to get to Bhutan, Iíll have to ride through some Ďroughí areas. She warns me that I could get robbed, kidnapped or even killed. Sheís reads out reports of such news item hoping to scare me into abandoning what she thinks is a suicidal venture. She doesnít say it but I know she also thinks Iím too old for such a physically demanding task.
ďAt least go with a groupĒ, she says in a gesture of semi-compromise. I tell her that no one is really alone on the roads of India Ė at least on the ones Iíll be riding on. There will be people galore. And help will be always available, sometimes even when you donít want it! Besides, a group-ride can easily turn into a picnic.
In retrospect, I realize that I never did ask myself whether or not I'd actually be able to do it. I don't know what my answer would have been. Ask no questions and be told no lies! Just Do It! (thanks Nike).
Iíve allowed myself a month off from needing to don my speech therapistsí garb. 20 days on the road with an extra 10 for any contingencies encountered. Anything can happen on an Indian road and itíd be pity if nothing does. Thatís the reason Iím on this ride in the first place. For the insecurity of it. If I wanted only to be Ďsafeí, Iíd have taken Juhiís advice and gone on a streamlined group tour organised by a travel company that prides itself for its reliability and predictability. Some agencies even take cooks along to provide the same food one would eat at home. For such, a solo motorcycle ride through India is strongly de- recommended.

Down in the garage the motorcycle stands primed for departure. I go down to take yet another look at the steed of steel and get stared back by its large central eye which seems to be asking me ĎWhen .whenÖwhen will you take me out?í Itís been caged too long in the narrow confining streets of the city and seems almost desperate to take off on the promised run.
The bike has received some serious attention at the workshop. The piston now has new rings that achieve tighter closure with the cylinder. Everything that needs to be has been replaced, lubricated, tightened or adjusted. Itís performed nicely in the last week that Iíve been test-riding it. My mechanic says it is now Ďbetter than newí.
Which is more than what I can say for myself.
Last time, before embarking on the Ladakh ride, I had cycled and exercised and got myself into a degree of physical fitness. This time Iím going on an as-is-where-is basis. These last 3 years, Iíve not being paying much attention to my body, not that it has demanded much. Itís been a fairly well behaved bag of organs and after all, what use are organs if not organized? On my part, Iíve been pampering them with all sorts of tasty solid, liquid, gaseous and aromatic rewards.
I suspect the Ladakh ride has turned me cocky. For one, I expect this ride to Bhutan to be a much easier journey than the one into the high Himalayas. Repeated visits to Google Earth have assured me that this time there will be no rugged, remote, ice-laden terrain to cross. No need to carry high-altitude gear. The highest point Iíll touch will be Thimpu - no more than 2000 metres above sea level. Also, the roads Iíll take are mainly national highways. Hotels, dhabas, service stations aplenty! Iím leaving the heavy foot-pump.The few spares Iím carrying donít take up much space. Just cables, a plug and an extra set of electronic points, a pair of fuses. To make it even easier on myself, Iíve broken up the 3000 kilometre route into shorter daily rides and resolved go slower Ė take the element of Ďhurryí out of my calculations. Iíve no records to break. In any case, riding solo, one is assured of coming first.
Ajit Harisinghani
Author of One Life to Ride - A Motorcycle Journey to the High Himalayas, (See excerpts on Amazon)


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Re: Excerpt from my new book:
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2012, 01:20:03 am »

The Garbone

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Re: Excerpt from my new book:
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2012, 12:49:47 pm »

I see what you did there..  lol...   

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* all actions described in this post are fictional *


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Re: Excerpt from my new book:
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2012, 01:31:27 pm »
The last book was an interesting read. May have to give this one a shot.
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Re: Excerpt from my new book:
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2013, 08:12:37 pm »
The last book was an interesting read. May have to give this one a shot.

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Re: Excerpt from my new book:
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2013, 06:19:05 am »
I liked the first book as well.

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