My first long distance bike ride with my brothers.
As Robert Byrne puts it, “anybody who believes that the way to someone’s heart is through his stomach, flunked geography.” But is it about flunking geography or experiencing one? The delightful aromas and delicacies par excellence and the joy that the heart gets from a thrilling adventure and fuller sumptuous meals after hunger pangs? This clearly is enough to sweep away anything else by a mile’s difference.
If life is a journey, travelling places is like living this journey one page at a time. Pages that are immersed in the sweet nectar of flowers and the char grilled exotic delicacies far from across the mountains. Or the uncountable memories built across the twisty plateau terrains to the dal baflaa and churma luncheon breaks on the way.
Yes, I have lived my life turning across the road bends as people turn pages of the book called life.
In pursuit of our dreams, my dream, it was time for me to take a plunge ahead and hit the road. Take the roads less travelled and discover the lazzat-e-khaas from the city of lakes, Bhopal and all the way to the foodie city of the country, Indore. I had travelled some thousand kilometers on road discovering places with cousins and friends but this trip was one that none of us dreamt would turn out to be a ‘lazeez safar ki dastaan’.
We started our journey with 3 bikes, a Royal Enfield Classic 500 and two Avengers. We were 5 cousins willing to cover distances and discover them too. Amidst the usual no-no’s and why-why’s we held our rebellious self together and started our journey right when the first light showed across the horizon. We din’t sleep for two nights and all we did was collect, organize and plan our two day trip to the T. I was the only girl with four rocking brothers in crime. We weren’t doing this for the first time, but it was different as the agenda was not just traveling, but traveling with a purpose.One being an exam my first cousin had to appear for and the other a dream of those who mattered the most. In about 5 minutes of travel we were on NH 86. This was supposed to be a straight highway to the foodie city but we had better plans. We travelled NH86 backwards for above 100 kms just savor our taste buds with the famous ‘Kheer’ from ‘Mana Dhaba’ and take blessings from Dargah Shareef near the fort of Raisen. We had our second stop at a small village khaat restaurant named the ‘Malgudi days’. As creative and striking as the name sounds, the food too was equally awesome. But the best part of this stop was not what they served us but how it all happened. Coming from a family with a strong tradition of Dhabas and hotels we pleaded them to give us a chance to do what they did best. And to our surprise they agreed. Yes, we were allowed to cook a meal in the real Dhaba environs. And finally we had our first ever Dhaba feast in the most unusual yet delighting way possible.
We headed straight on the highway suited in our jackets, helmets and rugged jeans. By now, each one of us looked a little shabby and muddy but looked forward to one of the most awesome journeys of our lives. We took the road least travelled to cross one of the largest lakes in the country. The weather and the serene environs of the place were breathtaking. The ‘upper lake’ or the ‘Bada Taalab’ as it is popularly known is one of the major attractions of the city and certainly it is that huge that at certain places it is difficult to see the other side of the lake. The horizon stretches across lake line. By this time we had already travelled a distance of above 200 odd kilometers and the sun was over head. We decided to take a dip in one of the small rivers that later merge into the lake. The river surrounded by lands of black soil and evenly planted soybean crop made every look down the fields, green and serene.
It was now about 2 in the afternoon and after tasting the real food from the villages including the bajre ki roti (which apparently was my first time) and ‘baigan ka barta’ from nearby household eatery in Sehore, we headed straight to Aashta. But not all goes in your favor and it is never supposed to be. After all that is what would make memories later. Our bike tyre busted. Vaibhav being on the driving seat somehow managed to save us from falling right in front of a speeding tourist bus. Hell ya! It was a Classic 500 heavy as a monster. The two bikes rushed and got the mechanic and in about 20 odd minutes he fixed it and we were ready to rock and roll. We reached Ashta filled our tummies with the famous poha and the jalebis.
We were soon crossing the surging river when it started to rain. But the bikers in us wanted to travel. We knew safety was our priority and took the highway. Before we could cross the Dodi district we were stopped by my second cousin’s shrieking voice. ‘Guys check that out, there’s a lake in the middle of nowhere.
We could see no road to the place, but were determined to dip our feet in water. It had rained heavily and it was risky travelling without a defined road.
But the eldest of the chipmunks, was the first one to take his Avenger down the slope. We followed and somehow managed to reach. It was dawn. We dipped our feet in water and thought why not camp here for the night. It didn’t look like a dangerous place. We had a couple of villagers around so thought it was a wise thing to do. We camped in a nearby hut roasted two birds that we were carrying and had a feast of a lifetime.
Soon the day light showed and we were only half way through to the foodie city. We rushed our wheels and travelled 100 kms in less than an hour. We reached the city when not many were on the road. After having the loveliest breakfast ever at a friend’s place we reached the university campus. My cousin was supposed to appear for a 2 hour test. We in the meanwhile took a long stroll and headed back to ride our bikes. We had about 90 minutes and we wanted to make the most of it. We reached MHOW the military headquaters of war in about 40 minutes and on our way back stopped at a small waterfall which looked beautiful from every angle. But before we could reach there my elder cousin’s chain jammed. The guys had a tough time I remember fixing it in a no man’s land. But we knew we had lost a lot of time and were supposed to be home in the next 4 hours by hook or by crook. The only stop we had back home was at Dewas where we had the ‘gosht baflas’ the famous delicacy of the place.
The most astonishing thing about this entire trip was how it made me realize a dream that we as friends always wanted.
I remember posting this facebook right before the journey. “The world is a book, and those who don’t travel read only a page” and urging my friends and siblings to not let a wordsmith die of nothingness.
We had done it again and this time like awesomely and this is when I realized; “you live your life when you let yourself free.”