Monday, August 6, 2007

Trek to Ratangad

Trek-Trip to Ratangad

28-29 Jul 2007

By: Pavan Tambay

We will always remember the 22nd day of August of 2005 were we had all met in Hotel Kamini in Chinchwad, Pune. The only good things I ever received from my CMM-5 company were my wonderful friends. Almost two years had passed and we all decided to have an adventure tour after several fun tours to Alibaug and Lonavala. This time we chose a fort named Ratangad and here goes the rest of the story.
A few things that were fixed were two Qualis taxies as means of transport and the journey dates 28 and 29th day of July of 2007. 27th day of July was extremely hectic and everyone was very much excited. Few were going for the first time and they kept on revising the list of their belongings. There was also a lot of last-minute-shopping as usual but after that also, few forgot some important things like jacket, and that was me. Here is the list of gang:Top: Shatru, Sam, Ajit, Muks,Ganguly,{Appy}, Jitu, Mannu, JJBottom: Shailu, Tambay, Reddy, Sood

We started off from Koparkairane at around 0145hrs on 28th. It was raining very heavily and there were a few last minute disclosures of participants added and deleted. Some got stuck in traffic while returning from office for 3-4 hrs but still made it and some red ones couldn't make it having no reasons. Yes guys, 13 proved to be a lucky number for us. Read ahead to know more.
We took Mumbai-Nasik highway and reached Shendi village, at around 0730hrs, where we had booked some stinking rooms in Panchsheel hotel. We refreshed ourselves, stuffed some cakes, parathas and biscuits and then started off towards our destination at around 0930hrs. We were already behind schedule but it was okay with all of us. We reached Amruteshwar temple, some 25km from Shendi at around 1030hrs. The road from Shendi to Ratanwadi, up and down small hills and along the rim of the Bhandardara Lake, was picturesque.

We had halted at a couple of places for photographs. All the mountains were lush green and there were beautiful waterfalls everywhere. The twist and turns of the mountain road up to Ratanwadi village was really thrilling. The temple of Amruteshwar mahadev is an ancient one.

Not a single stone is un-carved. Parts of it are resurrected. The Idol, shivling can be seen half submerged inside the water, ground water probably. We picked up a local boy, about half our age, to show us the way to the hilltop, the so-called Ratangad fort. We had read a few blogs on the net regarding this trek-route and had some idea about the nature of path uphill. All of us were ready for one of the real, once in a lifetime experience. There were other tourists like us from different places too. A large group of school had also come and was just along with us until halfway. Some of us really were worried about them for they could learn some unwanted this from us. We kept reminding our guys to watch out for kids falling prey unknowingly to software engineers having fun in mountains in their CMM-5 style!

We had to cross a strong current of a stream several times. The soil had also become slippery due to rains. Luckily none of us got hurt, neither the rains, nor the hidden ditches of river, nor the steepness of the mountains could dampen our spirits. We soon left the school group far behind and claimed a considerable height. The local kid with us was really tough in going up the hill. We came across a stream and rested there for a while. The water was very sweet and perhaps more pure than the mineral water we had in our bottles. We barricaded our urges of becoming fresh water fishes of the stream. We did not rest for long because we didn't want to fall asleep. We were inside the clouds and could feel the water droplets touching our skin and hair like dew drops. Almost the entire route was through dense canopy and its perils, the insects and mosquitoes. There were occasions when we could see the cloudy sky directly over our heads.

You couldn't miss the beauty of the green mountains and the waterfalls during the could-less times. As we paced ahead capturing the natural beauty in our minds and digi-cams, we suddenly ended up on a spot, a dead end. The eerie mountains ended suddenly.

There we could see a couple of guys climbing down the heavenly ladder. Someone was shouting, "Hold right there we are coming down. There is not enough room up here." We watched them patiently, coming down one after the other. Every time after two people came down, we heard someone shout "Just five more to go. It's a risk to life up here. Its very slippery up here" We waited for 45 mins. It started raining heavily. Now some of us did have the raincoats. Four of us came under one umbrella. It was Tambay, JJ, Sam and Sood. (We never had come So-Close). It was a joke enough to laugh for a couple of hours. We started wondering what sort of place was above the ladders.

There were theories and stories. We could not take it much. The cigars were running out and soon someone from our group decided to take charge. Now there was shouting in reverse direction. "Hold it right there we are coming up". We all climbed up and found nothing but another ladder where the first one ended.

Now there was only a small gap between the mountains that leads to "Ganesha Darwaza". It's so-called because it has carvings of lord-ganesha on it. We did not find it as life-threatening as we had imagined sitting there down below the first ladder and listening to the people shouting from above, they had a reason, as usual, yes you guessed right, the cause of showoff with them.

Finally we reached the place we were longing for. The famous shelter, THE CAVE WHERE WE HAD OUR LUNCH. The Gobi and Alu Paranthas never tasted so delicious in our lives before. But soon, the true owners of the cave started coming, the monkeys-le-mountains. They are small sized but always are in pack and have skills more than a trained mountaineer to sit on small rocks on edges of the mountain. It started raining briskly and we had a quick video session inside the cave. After all we had achieved new heights. It always gives you a strange feeling of achievement, relief and accomplishment when you are sitting on top, overlooking the world down below you, where you came from, giving so much pain to your legs and risking your life. The path forked and there was one way up the Hanuman Darwaza, which we knew from the map leads to a circular path around the cliff of ratangad.

The lord hanuman was marvelously carved on both sides of the stone entrance. We were inside the leaking clouds and the visibility diminished to just a couple of meters. We dropped the idea of having a stroll around above. We decided to loose height. On our way back, we were drenched to the core. We were not left with a single dry cloth. The return path seemed to be lengthier, though it was the same route. We came across the same stream were while going up we had resisted the temptation of transfiguring into fresh water fish. This time, we let ourselves loose and enjoyed the stream to the extreme.
I cannot keep you in dark about an incidence so memorable that all the emotions you can feel were felt of course unsaid and involving everyone present in-situ. X dropped his lighter into the stream. {f!#$%^}. Y took out a wet matchbox. {high hopes}. It's raining, water droplets falling on cigars. {Bring in the umbrella}. Matches are wet. Can't ignite. {f*&%#}. Other styles and tries with other matchbox. {high hopes}. {f!#$%^}. Ok. {Let it go. Good times ahead}.

We again started off towards Amruteshwar mahadev, to the base of the mountain. The stream that we had to cross had become healthier because it was raining briskly for the past three hours, without a pit stop since we had started declining. We made a chain, holding hands and crossed the stream. There were no anacondas in that stream though, which was a bit disappointing. There weren't enough perilous animals to keep us involved in those hills.
We touched our base at around 6 in the evening. We had some tea and dried ourselves as much as possible. The trek is usually done with an overnight stay at the caves, but we had no such plan. We started off towards our hotel once more but via another route, this time shorter but equivalently beautiful. We came across a wonderful spot. The mountain face stood at right angles from the ground. You could imagine yourself at the base center of a vertically half cut 500-meter tall cylindrical mountain with water pouring in from the top. Okay, enough geometry. It was really a wonderful waterfall. The water was falling from almost half a kilometer tall treeless curved mountain wall. We were inside our vehicle and it was raining but we were awake just enough to capture this natural beauty in side us. Our hands denied reaching up to our cameras.

We reached our hotel at around seven and after some refreshment and rest it was PARTY TIME. {baker ---- baker ----- cheers &@## laff fffff psdfjk.df d ygl325^%#$%$#$ku gyusgd f#$#VSDFg ----- dinner ------ baker ---- baker }
Usually we have numerous sleepless nights because generally we come from (you know where) and remember the horrifying incidences and atrocities cast upon us by {you know who -- PrimeMinisters and HumanRascals}. But this one night was ours. We realized what a sound sleep means after so many {we have lost count of time}. We just had one of the most wonderful days with our friends out there in the mountains and no one was there who could take away the happy memories away from us.

Next day we woke up, had some snacks, checked out from the hotel and went out for site seeing. We visited some significantly exciting places like Randha-Falls and Bhandardara Dam. The reservoir of this Dam is very vast and clean. You will really miss something in your life if you couldn't take out a couple of hours on its bank. We were soon finished before noon because Kalsubai, a place that we wanted to visit turned out to be another trek route of two hours uphill. We had a brainstorm inside one of our vehicles and driver suggested one more place that he believed was a couple of hours away. During the knowledge transfer between the vehicles, it was believed that the place was as near as an hour and a half. Now that everyone was pumped up by the idea of that place, we started off towards the highway.

A couple of guys got frustrated by the new dynamically changed plan because it was taking too long and the place was nowhere near but It was rather very fortunate event in the opinion of the rest of us. It took us three hours to reach to the blessed place. We got a chance to visit the famous temple of Sai-Baba on the day of Gurupoornima. We were at Shirdi. People from all over the world struggle to go there and we happened to be at the place without any plan in advance. There was a very long queue and thus we only managed to have a mookdarshan from a window. We then went to Shani-singnapur on our way back. It was around 90 km from Shirdi. We got a lot of stuff to have fun because even bathrooms had no doors in this place. It is believed that no one can steal anything from this place and be at peace for the rest of his life. We had our dinner in some dhaba and touched the Pune-Mumbai highway. We reached at around 0500 hrs on 30th. Everyone blessed the organizers and participants of this memorable event.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Matheran Trekking

Matheran Trekking
By Pavan Tambay

We started off from thane railway station at around 6:00am. Only three of us could make it to the railway station so early in the morning. We had extracted the trekking route’s initial information from several blogs on the internet itself. Although there are several routes for trekking, we decided to go on one of the most exciting routes. It is said that Matheran is a hill station discovered by the British to beat the summer heat of Mumbai. People believe that it is a wonderful place to visit during monsoon season because there are a lot of waterfalls and the mountains are lush green. The lakes are overflowing and it is a very panoramic view from the top to see the lake reservoirs. We thought that it would be nice to visit the hill station in summer to see how much heat it beats. Further it is not advisable to traverse waterfall routes in monsoon.

There is a narrow gauge train that goes to the top of the Matheran plateau. It starts from Neral railway station and takes almost 2.5 hrs to reach at the top. There are also taxis that leave you at the entrance of the famous hill station. There are no vehicles allowed on the roads up there, but surely you could hire horses for a leisure ride within the small town. The railway route that could be looked at for reaching there is: Mumbai->Thane->Kalyan->Neral->Karjat.

Here is how we went. We, Pavan, Mangesh and Shirish, went up to Karjat from Thane. We reached Karjat at around 8 am. We hired an autorickshaw up to the point called Pokarwadi village. Now the distances are approximately as follows. From Karjat railway station, Chowk is around 9 km. But, there is a village called Borgao which is around 3 km off main road to Chowk. You need to take a turn nearly 4 km. before you reach Chowk. And from this village there is another small village called Pokarwadi a few km away. The road to this village goes alongside Morbe Dam reservoir. This dam reservoir gives a fantastic view from Matheran.

From Pokarwadi, there are two routes that go to Matheran. One reaches Rambaug Point and another one reaches One Tree Hill Point. The later one is thought a bit tough route because it is a bit longer. We had already decided to traverse the long forest route. We picked up a local person from the village as our guide by paying him a nominal fee. It was another wonderful experience going up the waterfalls and a not so dense forest. The first half of the road did pass through a couple of very small villages and small farms initially. There were no big shady trees that we could find in the path. We could see The Matheran Plateau very far and high above us.The later half trek was through shady trees. The route crossed several waterfall sites.We kept hearing the wood peckers echo their screams and kept mocking. There were no wild animals as we were expecting. We were hopeful to see some snakes but could not. So we entertained ourselves with the wood peckers noise assuming it was the rattle snake making that noise.

It took us almost 2.5 hrs to climb up to One Tree Hill Point. It is not bad when compared to the time taken by the train. We were a bit tired but soon got refreshed after having three different cold drinks at a small shop at that point. Matheran is a bit cool due to a lot of trees on the plateau, but the height from the mean sea level is not much. Again we set off for exploring the Hill Station Plateau on our foot. We saw a lot of people there unlike our trek route where there was none other than us. We saw people riding horses and hand-driven carts. The Maximum distance between the two end points of Matheran is around 6 km and it is very less if we have a complete day with us to visit all the places. We had our lunch in a fine restaurant and visited some good site-seeing points of Matheran. We also did some light shopping at the Market place. Charlott Lake and Echo Point are worth paying a visit. There are a lot of other site seeing points nearby. The points were nice but not as exciting as compared to the trek route that we had climbed up.

Finally we decide to come down by the mini-train but found that all the seats were pre-booked. So we fascinated ourselves by having a small photo session with the mini-train and traveled on foot on the rail-track, to the other end the Matheran, Dasturi Naka, where we could hire a taxi up to Neral. It took the taxi 15 mins to come down the hill. We reached Thane railway station around 7 pm. It was overall a wonderful experience.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Bike Expedition

“Know Thy Border”
Motorcycle Expedition to Great Rann of Kutch
29th Sept 2004 – 3rd Oct 2004

As experienced by:
Pavan Tambay

Finally the most awaited moment arrived. The clocks ticked and it was 3.00pm of 28th of the September of year 2004. All twenty-nine of us were queued up in front of A-Block of our dear Nirma Institute. Fifty-eight ears were eagerly waiting for only one sound, the sound of good old whistle of our thirtieth youngest team member, who was standing in front of B-Block on his Bullet. Our hearts were pounding as sun shone bright over our heads. Trivedi Sir, Ashishbhai and other dignitaries were standing in front of us with a twinkle in their eyes. We were being watched by at least thirty reporters and their flash guns. A few minds were clouded by uncertainty, “Will it be areally a grand success?” Twenty nine tough minds were waiting for some of the most fierce moments of their existence in this mortal world. Suddenly the acoustic of whistle struck all eardrums and sixteen bike-riders kicked their right foot hard. “Vroom…Vroom….” Firing of the engines and cameras struck Nirma at once and all the heads turned at us. Now as the Bullet was approaching the fifteen great heroes, passions, splenders, pulsars etc, all fifteen bike-riders held their positions tight and pillion riders mounted their horse backs.

Off we went, all in a single file. Envy flashed across hundreds of eyes in Nirma which tuned into fear in a moment and then to great applause and appreciation as one file transformed to three. After completing a circle which comprised of cemented path connecting A-Block, Workshop, B-Block and Pavilion, again all bikes were parked systematically in reverse order or original in front of press and dignitaries. Priya, fifth semester chemical engineering student, was standing in her wonderful red dress with a box of pendas in her hands. Soon we were finished with sweets and a brief addressing by Ashishbhai, who asked us lovingly to complete our mission successfully. With the sound of whistle, again all of us started, but this time out of Nirma in a single file.

At the break of dawn of next day, we all gathered at Sardar Bridge, Paldi. We had our breakfast and after a long moral lecture and Mahamrutyunjay Jap, which was the speciality of our Kanak Sir, we started off towards our goal. Our tanks were full, spirits were high but speeds were controlled because we were on an expedition “Know Thy Border”., a unique adventure that we had planned. In the past quarter century, probably no one had dared to do such a thing. A month ago, we had appeared for our last paper of symbolic logic and logic programming during our first sessional examination of seventh semester. We were popped up and thus went to R-World to enjoy “Dhoom”. We, Pavan Tambay, Satish Patel & Ritesh Shah, were so pumped up with enthusiasm that we decided to have some fun, adventure and experience of tough Biking life. The result was “Know Thy Border”, motorcycle expedition from Ahmedabad to Great Rann of Kutch covering approximately 1500km. The whole month was very busy for us, full of management, roaming around in campus to gather young blood, collection of funds and equipment and intense map reading. The route decided was: Ahmedabad to Bhuj via Chotila on first day, next day to Khavda, India-bridge and night at Mata-No-Madh. Next day at Narayansarovar and night at Mandvi. Next night halt at Malia and finally next evening at Nirma. This was the five day and four night planning of our expedition.

But fate seems is not without a sense of irony. The healthiest looking horse was discovered to be ill when we reached Chotila. It consumed our precious quarter hour three times. This pleasant biking time was deducted from our laid out plan which cost us three hours of tiresome night driving up to Bhuj. Our Kanak Dave Sir, 69, was in lead and drove till Bhuj. We all were surprised at his will to drive Bullet even though that his knee was troubling him. We were running low on our cerebellum fluid. Our backs were denying us to drive further. Only few of us drove continuously till Bhuj, while others were changing positions from one to other bike and from pillion to driver and vice a versa. We had Eicher, mini-truck, with us which carried part of our luggage, food supplies, cook and his assistant and obviously a driver. As we approached Bhuj, we discovered that back pain is directly proportional to time spent on motorcycle and also a function of bike model. Anyone would feel tired and sleepy on a road straight as a girder and as lonely as space where one could only see the twinkling of brake lights and indicators. After a few incidences of pillion riders having a hard nap and Jigar Solanki’s (Balli’s) boot’s encounter with silencer, we finally wheeled inside Bhuj at about 11.00pm. “Vidyarthi Ekta Jindabad…”, “Bharatmata Ki Jay…”, “Vande Mataram…” were the slogans of welcoming team of thirty enthusiastic students of Bhuj, who were accompanied by Balubha, Kanak Sir’s old friend. They had arranged our dinner in a fabulous restaurant and our night stay at “ShaktiDham”, a wonderful temple. None of us of remembered when we closed our eyes. Before my complete system shutdown, I recollected all the events of the day. One by one they appeared and faded away in darkness. Only one clip stood still for some time. All sixteen bike in a single line, the strong wind trying to move our center of gravity away from the wheel base, bike riders holding their govendors and breath tight, pillion riders gripping their motorcycles , numerous gigantic wind mills on our left side all in a row and nothing but salt desert in all directions.

I woke up next morning with the chirruping of tweeties and found everyone in the same position as they were before saying: “Good night. Have sweet nightmares”. Anish, right hand of Kanak Sir, couldn’t sleep well due to mosquitoes and was already awake. We finished our automatically triggered morning subroutines and then went to visit the Temple. The tinkling of bells and banging of drums had woken up everyone. While Sir and Balubha were having their breakfast at leisure, I, Anish and Mr. Dhaval Makwana went for a stroll at Kutch University which was at walking distance. It was reconstructed after the deadly earthquake of 26th Jan 2001. We were astonished at the Igloo-like structures which were some distant college buildings. Everyone finished late as a bottleneck was formed at the entrances of bathrooms. No one was sure, fortunately or unfortunately, we were behind schedule. Balubha, strong built man, accompanied us for next two days of our journey. We were to go to Khavda by a straight seventy-five kilometer road patch. It was not a road but an assembly of ditches so perfectly arranged that if we tried to avoid one, then a deeper and wider waited for us. Satish was driving his pulsar on eighty. He is fortunately alive because the sheep’s only one leg was left behind on path which intersected with pulsar’s track. Finally we reached Khavda with our aching wrists and shoulders and calmed our gastric juices. We already had a lot of repair work done on Bullet at Bhuj till noon. Now it was fine and ahead of us again. Our first interaction with village people in Khavda gave us a lot of knowledge about their living style and education status. We had in our minds to encourage village students to get into engineering field but couldn’t because they didn’t even have school above 7th standard in village. Village people acknowledged the efforts of Gujarat Government after earthquake of 2001. Now the remotest village also gets Narmada’s drinking water in Kutch.

It was already 3.00p.m. We had to leave Khavda anyhow. Suddenly we had to change our route. It was impossible to stick t o the laid out paper plan. Time and weather were against us. We set off right away for India Bridge to visit BSF camp.

We met our dear Indian soldiers and had a nice long chat with them. We saw their underground bunkers where they lived and also the bunkers meant for firing. I felt like home. My memories of J&K border burst open. I had visited Malti post in Punch from where Pakistan was only 100 ft away and soldiers could hear voices on the other side. They took a lot of precaution even not to speak in slightly high voice and not to raise head above bunker. Many times open fire from other side caused casualties due to such minor reasons. What a terrifying memory! Meanwhile, a BSF soldier, Hawaldar Pramod Singh, was giving us the information about their equipment and life there. He motivated everyone so much that our slogan “hip hip hurray” was changed to “vande mataram”. It was already 4.30pm and according to our new plan, we had to reach Kala Dungar Dutt Mandir. Because it was Indian border area, BSF had maintained roads well. Up to Kala Dungar, it was a nice concrete road.

Two of or bikes faced dangerous uplifting of front wheels while climbing the steep hurdle. Acute turnings multiplied our fears by a hundred. It was getting darker and darker. Sky was thickening. “Aahhh…” was the sigh that came out of every mouth when we reached the top. All of us rested our backs wherever we found a nice place. It felt like heaven. Nice refreshing nap under the roof of Shri Dutt Bhagvan. It was the most calm and virgin among the places we visited. A story is associated with this holy place. You first visit Haji-Pir, then come to Kala Dungar and feed the jackals. If the jackals gobble up all the food, then your wish is granted. This is a unique temple in Gujarat. This temple was reconstructed along with some more facilities after the earthquake. At around 8.00pm we heard clanging of vessels and a man was throwing some food on a platform. Suddenly around 20 jackals turned up from nowhere and started making voices and running around the platform. We all ran up to the spot in excitement. But beauty of nature is to be enjoyed from a distance. All of them ran away into thorny bushes. We waited for a long time in silence. Once in a while, they tried to see from behind the bushes whether the new jackals in their area have gone or not. Every few seconds we saw a natural million volt flash across the dark sky. Still we were keen to see them again more closely but now big droplets had started leaking from the sky. Heavens above were roaring at us. At night we made a lot of fuss about jackals kissing us in bed because we had to sleep in an open verandah just a few meters away from jackals’ dining table. There was absolute loneliness. There was no sign of any homo sapiens other than us. Half of us were half afraid and half relieved and the other half were shivering. Soon our minds were clouded by dreams and lightening of events.

A tough day was lying ahead of us. We had to cover-up the distance. We had to go through the desert, visit Haji-Pir, go to Mata-no-Madh and reach Narayansarovar. Now the bullet was inside Eicher and Jaydeep Vadher and Vishnu Patel, experienced and safe riders, were in the lead. We went to Dhorda village to see Mia-Hussain. There we learned how an uneducated person manages time and resources judiciously, where people in cities just cannot utilize the amount of facilities that are present. That village is frequented by many foreigners also. Shooting of films like “refugee” was done there. They had maintained a visitor’s book very nicely since around 50 years. Mia-Hussain’s house, a typical “Bhonga” with circular walls, was beautifully decorated with handicrafts of women. We also visited his older Bhonga which was made of earth, wood and grass. He led the way thorough the desert. We could see nothing else but “Gandi Baval” in The Great Rann of Kutch. A day before, it had rained there. Rains are deadly in that desert. Rann of Kutch, once a vast grass land, becomes rubbery on drinking water.

A slight extra rotation of accelerator could sink our tyres in the rubber and a bit of brake for an unbalanced bike could transform bike into skiing pads and that could lead to broken legs. But fortunately only few patches were watered which we had to avoid. Our dear Satish was riding his pulsar on 80kmph. Poor Ritesh was holding a video camera and thus not wearing a helmet. There were sudden screams of caution and pity and next moment the pulsar was found inside a Baval bush. Long spines of dried dead Baval were all over the hard and cracked ground of Rann. They brought bad luck to all the tyres. But the toll varied from zero to five per tyre and one to seven per bike. Our good old foot pump pumped life in tyres every few miles up to Haji-Pir, where only a couple of bikes found there medicine. All were not lucky enough. Somehow poor foot pump managed to provide them support till they found a large hospital on highway. We were not yet at Mata-no-Madh, still 10 km to cover. Now that all bikes were up and ready with their stomachs full with IBP, it was already dark. It took us an hour to reach Mata-no-Madh where we filled our tanks in the “mahaprasada bhojanalaya” where thousands of pilgrims are fed free of cost. We were all exhausted out of desert journey with our empty stomachs. Still we were still about 50 km away from decided point of night halt at Narayansarovar. The road was narrow and full of implicit and explicit perils. Both edges of the road were damaged badly and the bright head lights of trucks coming straight into us were straining. Our caterpillar of bikes stopped dead whenever any vehicle came from front. We all still remember those hours whenever we drive at night. We reached there at 11.30pm and planned to stay at a dharmashala. They gave us three rooms in all. Lights and fans were visible after a long long time. Some fellows put their worries and pains aside and a party mood returned with Kali-Tiri, an exciting game of cards. Several mobiles were recharged but the service coverage was still not available. That night with cards and bhajias will not be forgotten for some time to come.

We woke up in the morning and went to visit Narayansarovar. It was a beautiful lake with a lot of lotus flowers. We also went to Shrinathji’s Baithak. At 9.00am we left for Koteshwar Mahadev temple, 3km away from our place. This temple stood erect at the intersection of ground and ocean. We wasted a lot of time in Photo and Video Shooting. We could see Indian navy warship at some distance quite clearly. Thanks to Ashish Rathore, the body builder, for taking wonderful numerous snapshots of us, temple and some other very nice things.

Tempers were running high. We had to reach Malia anyhow that day. It felt as if we had to swim across the ocean. We did not even have time for food. We managed some snacks at some highway hotel though. Two groups eventually evolved. Fast riders cared for nothing else but their accelerators, brakes and balance of bikes. We drove constantly for about 200kms. All of us stopped under nice shadowy trees near a village which was just 20kms away from Mandvi. We waited for slow group to join us which proved to be just a waste of an hour. We reached Mandvi at about 4.30pm and found ourselves enjoying the clean salty beach of Mandvi.

Cyclone warning rang across whole Gujarat and we were forced to leave. All of us were reluctant to get out of water but Kanak Sir’s “words” fished us out of the great pond. A couple of mobiles were now getting coverage and calls of worried near-dears gave us some warmth. We had to leave Mandvi where unfortunately three of our bikes had slipped due to mud spilled by a tractor. Dhaval got a bit injured in the eventful Mandvi incidences. We all were now very close to each other, we understood each other. Absurdity was not let alone to bounce all over but was absorbed quickly. Night driving for 150 more kilometers was a Herculean task to accomplish. Strict formation was conceived and everyone was given a number. We all understood the meaning of night driving. It was linked to our lives, in fact life of whole team. We will carry the sweet memories of that night till graves. No mishaps, no misbehaving and no misunderstanding. Everyone stuck to the numbers they were given and followed in same sequence in a single row. It was a dignified pleasure to observe all bikes, in a row, at equal distances, flashing their yellow indicators just in the right side of bright red brake lights on a placid straight and smooth highway. We passed by The Mundra Port but did not stop. We reached Gandhidham crossroads at about 12.00pm. Kandla Port was being evacuated because of hurricane warning. We lay down for a while on a wide road divider. Back pain was a universally quantified property but the amount varied from person to person. We held a brief meeting to decide where to stop.

After a short photo-cum-dance session, we again kicked off our bikes. The refreshing session and idea of NH-8 being beneath us gave us some courage. Sleep fled from all the eyes as we drove faster for next two hours.

Next morning we discovered ourselves on a verandah of a small hotel on the highway. With breakfast, we also shared our night experiences. Sleeping drivers, sleeping pillion riders, Ravi Gosai driving without headlight, his helmet flying dangerously high like Dhoom and falling just a few feet away from me were a few memorable events. It was also a lot funny because we all were alive. Everyone was really looking forward to reach back to beloved Nirma where we thought we were going to receive a warm welcome. With high spirits, well maintained by Vijay Kharadi and Chittaranjan, we started off from Malia and stopped nowhere but near Bavla, 60km short of Ahmedabad. After an hour, we were inside Nirma then inside our homes after another one.

A week has passed and now I am writing this. But I feel as if I just arrived at home from the expedition. I am still feeling the blows of wind and my palms try to hold hard to control my bike. The tough and enjoyable adventure brought a lot of minds together. We feel overjoyed when we see any of our members anywhere, inside or outside the college campus. It was an extraordinarily wonderful expedition that neither Nirma nor Gujarat shall observe often.