Thursday, April 30, 2015

Day 15 April 30 MP

Continuing my journey through places without network.
Rode for over 11 hrs this day.

Today, I started from Bodh Gaya, Bihar. Traveled through  Uttar Pradesh  to reach Rewah in Madhya Pradesh.
Found a place to stay.
Since my mobile is out of order, no internet connection.
:) now not too bothered about it.
Hopefully, I can enter Maharashtra tomorrow.

From my journey today.
Relentless sun and not a tree to give any shade.
Tenzing and me, we both are all covered in red dust.

Till around noon the roads were okay. After that, the roads got difficult. And exciting too. :)

As I travel I realize again that  India is a poor country.
The main problem our people face is hunger.
There is nothing as painful and horrible as hunger.
I feel ashamed that our country has not made any strides in seeing that our people have even one square meal a day.
Politics are politricks.
These poor people are tricked into voting by giving them a gift of  a utensil or two. And they take that because their state of life is so bad.
And then, they are forgotten. Until the next elections come around.

Mothers are unable to breastfeed their young ones. They have no milk to give them. How can they, when they have no food to eat. Let alone nutritious food. :(
And if a family has a cow. Whatever milk they get from the cow, the child at home is denied that too. Because unless they can sell that milk, their livelihood is gone.

Human beings sleep alongside with cattle.

I had brought some candy to give to the children.
It saddened me to see that they have not seen a candy or toffee in their lives.
Their parents are so poor, they cannot even afford to get their children even a toffee.

The whole state of our land saddens me.
I am ashamed we sit in our comfortable zones and say hollow big words about the poor and down trodden.
Maybe we mean well. But it is not at all enough.
Anything we do, will not even touch the fringe of it.
Our brothers and sisters here are suffering. And, so are our children.

Tomorrow, weather and roads permitting, I might reach Nagpur.
I will be traveling through the heart of India. Through central Madhya Pradesh.

Day 14 April 29 - Bihar

Destiny had new plans. I rode Tenzing to Bodh Gaya. We reached here yesterday evening. 

The land of Gautama's Bodhi tree.
Spent some time in peace and tranquility, in contemplation of inner self. This place is charged with pure energy.
Unless destiny desires otherwise, I will be staying here today. 

After a bath, refreshed..  I set out to see the place I have been waiting  to visit.  To be in. 

Travelled to Gaya.
It is 12 km to Gaya.
Now, back at Bodh Gaya.

Since yesterday, problems with my mobile. So out of touch with my friends and well wishers, and the world. Unable to update.
Now back at Bodh Gaya.
Where Buddha sat in meditation for 50 weeks before he attained enlightenment.
It is a world heritage site.  It is under the military, and there are many security checks.

There is a Saraswathi temple too.

A day in peace.
Meditated for a long time.
Feeling an immense energy.
But, that has drained me too.
I turn in for the night.

As much as I liked Bodh Gaya.
I disliked the area that surrounded it. A lot of unscrupulous people, locals who exploit the visitors.
The food provided is not up to the mark. And charges are exorbitant.
Three times or more than what it  costs anywhere else.

Day 13 April 28

I ride on................

Abhi khane ka time hai... 
grin emoticon @Nilkamal Dhaaba, Pandayawra, Jharkhand
**(This is not Dhanbad.maybe google map error this time)

Day 12 April 27 Jharkhand.

More rain.
The loss of lives, and the pain and hardships of those affected by the earthquake saddens me.

The journey opens up new paths of  travel. The 9 states I had planned to travel might become 11 states. The intuition of the traveller guides him more than the plan. Reaching Kolkata, the path of my travel may become more clear to travel the neighboring states too... 
The journey is not to reach the target but the target is the journey itself. .. Awaiting the destiny of my travel.

Today I had plans to pass through two places not in my original list. Jarkhand and Bihar. 
But heavy rains made travel impossible. 
Now. taking up some respite from the heavy rain in a 'dhaba' at West Bengal - Jarkhand border.
:) am still uncertain about where my journey will take me. I might have to stay here at this dhaba to night.  
To travel to a destination.  where travel is the goal. 
I wait for my destiny.
The rainbow after the rains...

Reached Safely nw@ Dhanbad-Jharkhand 

@Poddar Regency

I heard  tremors were felt at the place I had taken shelter awhile back.
. Where I took the earlier picture..
But thankfully, the people there are safe. 

If I hadn't taken the route to Dhanbad, I might have had to pitch my tent on the road.
I am now 160 km away in a safe zone.

I rest here tonight.
Jharkhand, carved out from the southern part of Bihar.,

Day 11 April 26 Kolkata Heavy rains

At Kolkata

Yesterday, got the sad news of the earthquake at Nepal.

Heavy rains here. Strong winds.

Last evening was spent with this group of friends.

Malayali group from Kolkata. These friends are part of forward literary movement I had a great evening of discussions on various subjects with them.

Day 10 April 25. Kolkata

Day 10 , Datdun Village, West Bengal smile emoticon

Mission Part 1 Completed smile emoticon like emoticon
Calcutta / Kolkata. 

At the Vidyasagar Setu, the second Hooghly Bridge
The work for the original Howrah bridge (Rabindra Setu) had started in the year 1935. Built across the Hooghly river,  it was opened to the public in the year 1943 on February 3rd.
It was built to link Kolkata to the industrial town of Howrah. 

Howrah bridge
picture source itimes.

Today the Howrah Bridge, renamed Rabindra Setu, is still the main thoroughfare for vehicles crossing over to the twin city of Howrah and other destinations across the country. The rapid increase in vehicular traffic over the last five decades have made the bridge bear a burden many times its original capacity.

The construction of the second Hooghly bridge further downstream has somewhat lessened its load, but still the amount of traffic flowing to and fro is more than what it should ideally be. As such, the condition of this bridge is far from satisfactory. Traffic congestion during the peak hours, gaping holes on the road, the approach on both the banks and the sidewalk encroached by vagrants and hawkers are frequent occurences.

While the bridge cannot be closed totally and maintained as a heritage landmark, strict regulation of traffic and maintenance works should be given top priority. Alternate means of transport like the ferry services could be increased and bulk of the vehicular traffic re-directed to the new bridge, Vidyasagar Setu. It is to be noted that although the second bridge is fully open to traffic now, most people prefer to drive across the Howrah Bridge because Howrah station is practically just at the other end of the bridge. Moreover, the roads connecting the railway station to the new bridge is not at all suited for speedy communication. Unless the condition of this stretch of road is improved, traffic authorities will find it difficult to persuade drivers of public transport to change their routes and make a detour to reach the station.

An old picture of the old Howrah bridge.
Then, it was a 'pontoon' bridge. A bridge held up by boats. 
source: Kolkata

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Day 9, April 24

Today I am going to a village.

With a lot of good people.

They are living a life we have forgotten.
Simple living. In touch with the land.

Day 8 April 23 Konark Odisha

Early Morning,  I went back to the Sun temple. Fresh pristine air around.

Sun temple, full view 

                        In front of the sun temple, :) With two of the horses that pull the chariot.
                              Originally there were 7 horses. One for each day of the week.

Intricate carvings cover the whole structure.
That of dancers.
Also that of figurines depicting the kamasutra. Konark and also the Khajuraho temple in Madhya Pradesh is famous for that.

There is a belief that if one takes a dip in the sea nearby as the first rays of the sun fall, one will get cured of skin diseases. Even leprosy.
More pictures and matter later. When I have more time.

:) Found some men gathering mangoes from a tree.
Enjoyed a freshly plucked mango that they gave me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Day 7 April 22, 2015 - Puri to Konark

From the land of Jagannath of Puri. Odisha.

@Front of Jaganadha Temple

I had woken up excited about seeing the Jagannath temple. Had my bath and set out with the Gopro.
Compared to yesterday evening, lesser crowd of people.
That soon turned to disappointment when I saw many boards that said only Hindus could enter the temple.
My hopes dashed, I wandered about a bit, and took some pictures from outside. Those writings catching my eyes each time I turned around.
Didn't feel like staying on any longer and left the place.

Mobile panorama.

From there I  vacated the room and set off for the artist's village my friend Veenadevi Meenakshy had told me about.

That was an interesting place. Met  many artists, Spent some time there.. sat and talked to them for a long time.
It was a good experience.

From there, there was a shorter  route to Konark. A distance of 40 kms.
Reached there by about 4 pm. Went straight to the sun temple to have a look.
Crowded. This time, a lot of tourists.
Went back to find a room to stay. A small room, but adequate. Thankfully, cool.
Had a bath, and refreshed.. set off for the sun temple again.

Ornately sculpted.
Built with khondolite rocks, (granite?) it is also known as the black pagoda. It is a world heritage site.
Every December, a dance festival for Indian classical dance forms is held there

A gigantic chariot of Sun god, with 12 pairs of wheels pulled by 7 horses. Only 6 of the horses remain. and some of the wheels are 3 meters wide.
Mostly in ruins. There is a dance hall with its roof fallen off. But the rest of it has survived.
There is an audience hall which still stands.
A Kalingan temple architecture.
It is said that the first rays of the sun strikes the main entrance.
It was evening and so, missed that.

Returned to the room I had taken for the night.
Have to finish copying and saving my recordings and records for the day.

My dinner has come.
:) Hungry.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Day 6. April 21, Odisha

Day 6. Bhubaneswar route.    
April 21, 2015

I had some catching up to do for yesterday's forced day of rest.


♡ smile emoticon @Andhra border

A quick stop for this picture, taken after 501 km on the road today. My longest ride on the road so far on a day.
 Today covered the longest distance of 537 km. Actually planned stopover was at Bhubaneswar;
I reached there at around 5 pm. I had planned to stay with my couch surfing friends. They had called me. But they were in Cuttack. It would be 25 Kms to Cuttack. and I would have to return to Bhubaneswar next morning to go on to Puri.  Direct from Bhubaneswar to Puri it is 62 kms. And from there 35 kms to Konark.  Since it would be unnecessary travel back and forth. I called my friends and informed them of the change in plans.
Stay at Puri will cost more.  

Today has been my longest ride as of now. Traveled a distance of 537 kms.  I must have had about 5 litres of water through the day.
Now, finally I am here. 

Puri at night.  Jagannath temple precincts. The place is milling with crowds of people. The roads filled with a moving mass of humanity.. Looks like a celebration of devotion.
A business of devotion too.
Wayside shops filled with paraphernalia related to the place and other stuff we see at all such places.. Things common to where many people gather. Hawkers trying to attract customers.
A lot of places to stay. But no safe space for T Tenzing.

Whenever I stopped, seeing the bike and maybe seeing signs of travel,  a crowd would gather around. Some asking if I wanted any help. 
Many seemed to be on drugs. Even sadhus. Suspicious looking crowd.
Avoiding them, I rode around trying to find a safe place for Tenzing.
Seemed in vain. Where to rest Tenzing for the night? I needed a place to stay too.
But I was more worried about him. I didn't want him gone when I woke up.

Stopped to have a drink of cool apple juice.
And then I found a place. Close to the temple.  With space inside for safely parking the thunderbird.
I would cost me 5k for the night. But good comfortable rooms. At that time the owner of the place came. Talked to him about my travel, about my purpose of travel. He listened with interest, asked questions to know more; said the rooms would cost 4500. They were saying it was 5k because it was season then. Then he said, pay thousand  rupees for the night. He gave instructions to give me a double room with AC. The checkout time there was 8 AM. And when I said I would need the room for a couple of more hours; and he said, that was fine.
After a tough day, bliss :) I thanked him. Got to the room. Covered in sweat an grime.  A bath in hot water felt good to my tired and aching body.
Have ordered a Masala dosa.

Now, for tomorrow.
Not sure I will be able to enter the temple if it is going to be so crowded.  But, I hope I can; that I can take some pictures, see the place. I am looking forward to tomorrow. After coming this far, It wouldn't be complete if I left without seeing Lord Jagannath of Puri.

Day 5 April 20, Forced rest at Visakhapatnam :)

Day 5, The unforeseen rest day. April 20, 2015

Feeling waiting for my destiny.

It is the fifth day or my journey.. and I am at the Grand Hotel in  Vishakhapatnam.
Missing Tenzing, my friend and guide, my fellow traveler.
Tenzing, my Thunderbird. Royal 
Enfield Thunderbird 350. 
Tenzing is undoubtedly my friend. He has been named so, after the unforgettable P G Tenzing. 
The IAS officer who traveled all over India on his Thunderbird.

Palden Gyatso Tenzing 1963-2010

Hearing and reading about his travels, I felt the deep desire to own a Thunderbird. 
Though I always loved a Bullet, that was when I started to be serious about owning a Thunderbird.
Because there is no bullet as safe and dependable as it for solo travel. 
I have read P G Tenzing's book over and over again and I love the book and have been inspired by it. 
I have named my Thunderbird after him, out of my deep love and respect for the man and the rider, 
P G Tenzing.
My Tenzing has a different initial though. 
He is T Tenzing. 'T', for the Thursday, that he came home to me as my friend. 

Today, it is Tenzing's fourth service. It is not yet time for the 4th service, but that
is how I have given him for service.

Today, I will talk to you about how I reached Vishakhapatnam. I will try to tell you the story behind it. 
Like all stories, this too has a flashback.

Now, on this fifth day of my travel, as I sit in room number 104 of 'Grand Hotel', let me travel back.....

I started my journey 5 days ago, from Kaloor in Ernakulam district of Kerala.
From Kaloor International stadium. My plan is to travel a distance of 5555 Kilometers. through 9 states and complete the journey in 21 days. But then, a journey is a mission, a destiny. No one can foresee how it will be, what will happen.  I am traveling alone. I weigh 57 Kilos and I have a traveling companion who weighs 200 kilograms. 
And again, life can be full of surprises. Nothing need happen as planned.  One can always expect the unexpected.
As with life, so in a journey too. 

I travel a lot. I have have always loved to travel..  Even now, I am on a journey. Many a time, my friends and well wishers ask me, why and where to? Even now, I do not know why I travel..  My aim is the travel itself. It is not a destination I aim for. And that is a fact.
And now, this journey, spanning a distance of 5555 kilometers through 9 states in 21 days. Yes, I will be passing through the 9 states. But it is not planned where all I will travel there, or where I will be staying for the night. Yes, there are assumptions and calculations. On a given day and terrain, I could travel 300 kms, or  350 kms or maybe 400 kms. And, I calculate that I might reach a particular place and stay there. 
But in these 5 days, I have never even once stayed the night at a  place I had calculated that I would be in. 
It has been unexpected places. And at times I have traveled beyond the place I had thought I would be in. 

Travel is always a vast topic. We meet a lot of new people, go through a lot of new experiences, all unexpected. Good or bad, it all adds to ones growth.  What we glean from a long trip or travel is much more than the experience that we get from long years of study at a university. That is my humble opinion. 
The understanding, awareness and knowledge that I have gathered from my experiences, be they good or bad, have all been gifted to me through my travels. And, that is my wealth.

Let me rest a bit  for now. Tenzing is back and resting too. :) 
I will continue as and when I find more time. 

Almost always, my travels are not preplanned. Nor are they made with any expectations.
Out the blue, the thought would come to mind. Why not go on a journey! And that is it.
I throw some necessities into a backpack, and off I go. I think, that is how I would like to be known as.. a backpacker.
I'd like that very much. Instead of being known as a journalist, a photographer, or a social activist, that is what I would like to be known as. A backpacker. Because, that is exactly how I am.
I travel without making any preparations beforehand. I go wherever I want to. Wherever it takes me. And, on the way, if see a place that interests me. I get down there. Spend time with the locals.
The decision is not made with any calculations. Do I have enough money in hand? How long will I be away? I make do with what I find and come across. At times, it would be lavish: and at others,  I might go hungry.
Often, during such travels, without us even thinking about it, it develops an aim. Unexpected, but maybe, preordained; and we become the cause.

For me personally, my travel experiences have been mostly good. But the things we see around, the experiences of others', those touches you deeply.
Many instances might leave you helpless to react. But I have done what I could; I have reacted and taken action to the best of my ability.
And then, we come to know. Our country, our people. what are the problems we face. How much rampant corruption is. All that will make one very sad.
Another thing is; when we travel a lot, mainly we attain two things.
One is patience. The ability to forgive others. That is something great.
Second, we never get angry at others. We will be able to face any situation with a cool mind. When we travel a lot, we come to realize how insignificant man is. 

Then there is hunger. Nothing is bigger than hunger or as devastating. The only thing man can say 'enough' to, is food. He can't say enough' to anything else. That is how man is. That is how humanity is.
Haa.. deviating from the the subject at hand.  So, let me stop being philosophical, and come back to what I was talking about.

So, like I said earlier; my travel started 5 days before, from Kaloor stadium in Ernakulam. But this time, to start on this journey, I had to wait for six or seven months. Many times it would get derailed. get postponed.

Normally I never make my travels public.
But, this time why is it different? Why is it necessary to share this, give updates.

A journey is a mission. It will happen only when it is meant to. And when the time comes. It will happen. No matter what! 
Nothing can stop it. 

As regards to journeys, many faces come to mind regarding each... Especially this one. My friends have always stood by me. They have always supported me in everything I do.  
So many come to mind. Always, I have had the support of all. 
Always my good friends all. I am ever proud of the fact that I have friendships even more precious than blood relations. That, many friend circles exist through me is a fact that gives me great happiness. 

In this journey, in this solo travel, there have been friends who supported me, and stood by me staunchly. They are many.  And, I will never be able to name them all. But they all mean a lot to me.  
Still, there are a few names that I need to specially mention.  
First, my most  dear close friend and aunt. Usha aunty. Then my very dear friends Veena, Asha, Asha's husband Giri, their daughter Lavanya, Shivamayi, Meera, Geethu, Asha's mummy....
There  are  many who have supported me with their encouragement; through messages  or in many other ways.
Then my room mates. They have all asked me not to mention their names. Because they all need their privacy. But here too, how can I not mention Anil. He has helped me such a lot. 

I mention these few names only because they are like my  own. I can take that privilege with them. It would be wrong not to mention them. They have always stood by me; and they have all supported me so very much.

Last but not the least ... my mother. Amma knows. 
If I am travelling, without elaborating too much, she knows. Alright, you go and come back is all that she says. It is the same during any of my travels. Whenever and wherever I go, I inform her about that. There is only one thing mother asks of me. That is to call her at least once in a day. Sometimes when it would not be possible to call her, I tell her that. And amma always understands.

These are the people who have been with me during all facets of this journey. And, I can never ever forget them. 

.........will continue

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Day 4. April 19, Visakhapatnam AP

Good morning!smile emoticon  The day began with finding the ropes that were used to secure my stuff onto the bike gone missing. Just that. Nothing else. So, maybe.. someone else's need for it was more. God bless them. 

Day 4, April 19 / 2015
Spreading messages @ Near Ellure, Andhra

Born in fire, Tensing will not wilt in the Sun! With a punctured back wheel, Tensing carried me over a distance of 65Kms. Today being a Sunday, all places were deserted. It is possible to travel a distance of 50 kms with a puncture. But we traveled 65 Kms. 4 drum axles had broken. Patched it up somewhat and continued with my journey. Today we (tenzing and me) we rode 415 kms. Need to travel 82 kms more to reach Vishakhapattanam. Need to take implicit care of Tensing tomorrow. Declaring tomorrow a rest day.  
 feeling All is well.

10.13 PM, reached safely
 — at Welcome hotel Grand Bay, Visakhapatnam

Good night. 

Day 3, April 18 Andhra Pradesh

BF tym. Day3 - Puthalapettur, Andhra
April 18, 2015

BF time

With Chittur Municipal chairman & municipal staff
Near Rajupalayam.Nellore dist, Andhra.
Was carrying some clothes to give as gifts.
Gave some churidhars to these paddy farmers at Rajupalayam.
In thanks for the rice we eat.
Isn't it from these parts that we get our rice? smile emoticon
(Andhra Pradesh is the rice bowl of India)
:) the distance I traveled in search of a place to rest my head, 86 Kms. No way one can put up a tent on a highway. Finally found a place. 
The picture below, taken around 3 PM somewhere along the way by the Gopro. 
wink emoticon ) — now (18 April evening) at Chilakaluripeta.Guntur District.