Thursday, March 05, 2015

[1-Mar-2015] Solo Bullet Ride to Lepakshi

Going Solo
Anyone who has tried to organize an event can expect last-minute drop-outs. Legitimate or otherwise, the organizer has to respect the decisions. Priorities change, unexpected things come up, life happens on the sides.

Some take it personally, some might be hurt. Some might withdraw into a shell. Some go ahead with the event, as they get crazy, rebellious, philosophical, Zen-like, or just to prove a point or two to others and more importantly, to self.

Every now and then I popped the idea of going for a Bullet ride. It never materialized. Once even I was guilty of last-minute drop-out. The longing for the ride used to build up, and I used to take my family along to Art of Living, the NICE Road, or Kanakapura. But it felt like having a breezer when you felt thirsty for a Scotch.

The Week Before
A week before, I declared to myself that I will take my buddy (Royal Enfield Bullet Thunderbird 500) out for a ride to the long-pending ride to Lepakshi Temple, Andhra Pradesh, 140 KMs from my place in Bangalore - even if I have to go solo. Sent notifications to a few folks, some agreed, some didn't respond.

The Night Before
All dropped out the previous night. I expected it, and welcomed it. Packed my backpack with the puncture kit, first aid kit, spares, documents, cash, phone battery power bank, and kept an offline copy of the map on phone. I had filled fuel a couple of days before, checked oil, air pressure, and applied lubricating oil.

The Morning of the Ride, Sunday 1-Mar-2015
I woke up early as planned and informed my wife that I was going on the ride alone. She understandably refused to let me go. I tried to convince her. There was a huge churn inside my head and stomach. My kid was sleeping blissfully, it was so easy to change my mind and go back to sleep. No one would mind it, in fact people would expect me to cancel the ride, the right thing to do, to not take risk. When I told her this last bit, she sort of got the hint of the enormous struggle I was having within, with myself. She still didn't agree, but she said I should go. I asked her if she was sure, she said she was angry but I can go. She made coffee, packed some fruits and snacks, got my son to bid me bye, and I started the first solo ride at 6.45AM instead of the planned 5AM start.

The Ride
Even after starting the ride, it felt like I could still turn and go back. After a couple of KMs, things changed for the better. It was the morning after a night's rain, and the sky was overcast for most part of the ride, just the perfect weather! I was just riding, what else can I say. Clarity, purpose, calmness, confidence. They all took over. God, why hadn't I done this earlier. Missed you buddy! Passed through the early morning vehicles onto the city outskirts by 7.30AM. The green sign board read 48 KMs to Chikkaballapura, the breakfast spot I reached at 8.45AM. Saw a few biking groups, with Harley-Davidsons, Triumphs, and Bullets as well. By now, it was half-way mark at ~78 KMs. Spoke to my wife, who was now completely mad at me!

Being solo meant some degree of self-indulgence. Took selfies, which I never do.


Highway got boring after some point. Reached Nandi spot at 9.45AM, the first destination 1 KM before Lepakshi Temple.

Was blown away by the old-world rock sculptures at the temple, took easy nice stroll around the temple complex, clicked lots of pictures.




I was ready to start the return journey in about 40 minutes. This time I decided against online reviews and some people near the temple, and headed to Hindupur, 15 KMs away. It was supposed to lead onto Gowribidanur and to Doddaballapura, with bad roads. But to my pleasant surprise, the road was in good shape with playful twists and turns, lined up for the most part with huge scenic trees alongside. I had to be careful as there wasn't any median in the middle of the road (it was a State highway). Soon I switched on the headlight on my bike, which prevented most opposite vehicles not to overtake, leaving me with safe, easy path to move forward at good speed.

The Finishing
The mark of a achieving something worth is how hard the finishing is. The weak-hearted ones give up right there. Instead of the planned entry to Tumkur Road and then onto the NICE Road, I somehow ended up at Yelahanka. It was 1PM, exhausted from the slow moving and annoying traffic from Doddaballapura, 25 KMs. The choice was between going another 30 KMs to the NICE Road entrance (plus 31 KMs to reach home), or pass through 35 KMs of city traffic via Hebbal, Sankey Tank Road, Kasturba Road onto Kanakapura Road. I took the latter, and focused on taking it one road at a time, on reaching home safe, which I did at 2.20PM, 280 KMs mark on the Odometer. If you take a risk, it doesn't mean you can't take precautions and be careful. There is no point of taking a big risk if you can't finish what you started, and reach home in reasonable shape. Fun is to live to see the odds beaten, dreams fulfilled.



It's Full of Fights
If you are sure of something, you have to expect the roadblocks, the fights with the norms, the well wishers, friends, family, and with yourself - for your safety, fear of being lonely, physical and mental constraints/impediments. That's what it takes to go after a dream. Chase, go after it, fall, rise, and get there. Every little battle counts. Every big fight hurts. There are no wins, or winnings. There's just Life, as you want it to be.

PS: My friend shared this link (http://qr.ae/j7beA) of a 22-year old going on a solo ride on a 20-year old Bullet from Bangalore to Himalayas, over 4000 KMs. He fell sick after that, but then did this stretch for another 6 times. Amazing! Read more stories on "How does it feel to travel alone?" at http://www.quora.com/How-does-it-feel-to-travel-alone.

Links:

Here are the pictures in Story form: http://goo.gl/AjN23f
And here are the pictures in Album form: http://goo.gl/s0xCMF
Here's the route map: https://goo.gl/maps/VNrry


Monday, September 08, 2014

Swaraj's Got Many Friends Now!

Please note: The non-obvious reason for sharing this story is that someday you might also think about organizing this sort of thing at least once a year. More than that, we want you to experience the true meaning of the expression "filled with joy and happiness."  Let your heart/soul be stuffed with a sumptuous meal of satisfaction and contentment. Go with your family and friends. Return with a bag full of memories that live for ever. We don't know how much difference we made to these kids in a few hours, but they have made a huge dent in the way we perceive materials and life in general.

Amidst broken relations, we find reasons to fight, argue, avenge, lose hope/sanity, and flood ourselves with negativity. For a change, visit Jeevarathni (or a similar home) and hear out the stories of how each kid fought the odds from within and outside of his/her family. 
I mean, WTF are we cribbing about? Enough said, read on for our story.

It was a lazy Saturday morning like any other. The only thing to be done for Swaraj's 4th birthday the next day was to order a cake for a simple ceremony at home. His mother came up with an idea that we should celebrate it with special kids, just like my friend Deepak Artal had done a few years back. It was an impromptu decision. And it turned out to be a day like no other!

I realized Michelle is associated with Jeevarathni Foundation, off Nellur near Hosur, about 50 KMs from our place. A few calls, and it all fell in place. A few friends immediately agreed to join us. We wanted to carry lunch, but it wasn't allowed. They had an in-house kitchen and they tempted us with a special Onam lunch. For more than a reasonable amount, we could sponsor lunch for all the 33+ kids and us the visitors. The wonderful host Meena encouraged us to bring as many friends and family we wanted to, but we limited ourselves so as not to burden them.

It look us close to 1.5 hours to reach the destination. Swaraj was eager to cut the cake, he kept asking for it all along the way. We decided to take the Hosur Road next time and avoid the tiny packed roads of Sarjapur town.

First thing the kids did after we arrived was to wish Swaraj and present their hand-painted greeting cards. 

Handshakes between them and Swaraj were a delight to watch.

Kids circled eagerly around the cake. And just like that, I was going to be the guy lighting the candle. I'd thought I would stand out and shoot a video!

Happy birthday to you Swaraj! The kids sang thus, and the cake was cut. Right there. The magical moments.

Thanks folks for coming down and making this happen!
Left to right: Karthik, his wife Sowmya, their daughter Adya, my family, Swathi with her daughter Tanu, Mahesh with their son Jaikrith (Swaraj's classmate). Jai wondered that Swaraj now has such a lot of friends :-)

Swaraj and his school mates from JSPS

The special Onam lunch on banana leaves! The mats were spread out and we sat with each group of kids, chatting with them as we relished the Kerala specials.

There are mothers allocated to a group of kids - they share love with each other. Lunch was prepared and served out of in-house kitchen. At this point, we were feeling awkward to show affection to our son, while the kids watched. That one is heart wrenching.


Good and vast play area for the kids, our little ones had fun after lunch.

Group photo with the kids. Look at Karthik with the kids posing as Lord Krishna!

Kids with books, pens, pencils - sponsored by Karthik and family.

This bus drops and picks up the kids to a nearby school everyday. The white brown dog is called Lucy. She came along where ever we went, so sweet!

Swaraj liked the chicken/duck farm out in the backyard.

The host in-charge/caretaker Meena lives here. A gracious lady who is loved by the kids.

Karthik, the kid, and yours truly :)

Karthik with his daughter Adya and the kids

More Pictures

Jeevarathni Foundation

Website: www.jeevarathni.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Support-Jeevarathni-Foundation/133462053402731

Friday, July 18, 2014

Start Protecting Our Girls

Issue directive to all schools in Bangalore to impose security measures for the safety of children

Friends, is there nothing we can do to stop crimes against women? Can't we think of a reasonable deterrence (technologically or otherwise) that works for young and elder girls?

Last night my mind went sick over multiple news coming from all over the places - it was about 10+ rape incidents. I think the news channels have become Bad News channels. There must be stats that say every 30 mins or less, there's a rape reported in India. 

My blood boils. If there is one thing I'd like to make a difference in my life, this might be it. If we can't even try, what is the point of living, we might as well call it just existing. We, including me, are letting these things happen – and we care only if the problem comes to our doorstep.

Ping me if you want to join for a discussion this weekend – 1-1, in group, in person or on Google Hangouts.

Change.org

Dear Sridhar, 

This petition is gaining a lot of support on Change.org and we thought you might be interested in signing it.

Karnataka Education Minister Kimmane Ratnakar: Issue directive to all schools in Bangalore to impose security measures for the safety of children

Pavithra Shetty
BANGALORE, India

Sign Pavithra's Petition

Thursday, May 22, 2014

[Ride+Trek, 18-May-2014] Chennarayana Durga

The ride wasn’t decided until late in the night on Saturday, the 17th May 2014. I was trying to ensure chores are completed. Shashi was entrusted with finding a place to ride, the backup option being Nandi Hills and Lepakshi (oh, the time is yet to arrive for that).

Finally we decided on Chennarayana Durga, a small village near Madhugiri off Tumkur, about 120 KMs from my place in Bangalore. Trekking was out of the equation as soon as I saw the pictures online. The hill is steep with an inclination of over 60 degrees. And I had become overweight, the last time I trekked was about 10 years back (from Sringeri to Agumbe, 25 KMs via the forest – oh, that’s another legendary story we keep telling everyone!), and this was supposed to be a ride, what the hell. Reasons. They were flowing thick and fast in the mind. We told ourselves that we’ll ride up to that place, and decide to climb up the hill or not depending on our risk appetite (and my stamina, I thought to myself!).


When was the last time you did something for the first time?
That’s one my favorite question, and Shashi took illegal advantage of it. He popped the question, and I could not go against the spirit.

Onward Ride
The ride started a bit late, at 6.50AM, in the morning, owing to Sunday morning laziness on my part. We filled fuel at Shell, JP Nagar, and picked up Madhu (Shashi’s cousin, the pillion rider) from Kumaraswamy Layout. The early morning on Sunday was laid back en route Tumkur Road, near Nelamangala. A breakfast stop just before Dabaspete was brief.

After the deviation from Dabaspete, the road up to Chennarayana Durga was under construction, dusty, rough, and patchy. However, the countryside views and trees along side the road for most part negated the bad road conditions. In any case, after my previous ride to a spot near Cauvery river bank (off Kanakapura) along the non-existent and treacherous paths, this ride proved a cake walk. The pathetic optimist that I’m, all bad roads are considered preparation for the mother of all rides, the Himalayan Odyssey that we are dreaming of for the next year.

Trekking
We parked our Bullets in front an old lady’s house (trivia: it seems she played host to Late Vishnuvardhan and Bharathi for a meal when they were shooting for the movie “Bangaarada Jinke” in this village a few decades ago) and left our bags as well. The steep climb proved how misfit I’m.

Agree that it was a steep hill to climb, but that was no excuse I thought. Just after climbing for a few minutes, we evaluated whether to continue or go back, the risk was too high. I realized the shoe I was wearing had little grip, wasn’t meant for this sort of an adventure. But we moved on along a different path. I stopped to catch my breath every few minutes, and Shashi/Madhu were waiting on me, egging me on, teasing me, and singing inspiring songs.



At one point, I felt dizzy and at many times, asked them to carry on. But they claimed there’s a trekker’s code that no one gets left behind. Finally I drew on all my strength (ah, so dramatic, ain’t it) to reach the top of the hill. All along, we were powered by bananas and a lot of water. There were a couple of extra forts up above, which they explored by themselves. I had about an hour to myself, all alone, on the top, with a lovely view of the villages. It looked like a perfect spot and time for meditation, and I seized it. The cool breeze enhanced the experience, and a lot of things ran through the mind, many of them trivial, and at the end, there was renewed energy, clarity, and positivity. The climb down the hill was enjoyable and relatively easy.

Return Ride
We had lots of water from a villager’s house, and sat under Peepal tree for a long time. The ride back to Korategere for lunch was sublime. Now I don’t recall why, my guess is, it was due to the fact that the tough part was behind us. The feeling of having won over a great fear. The wind against the sweat. Huge happiness. After lunch at around 4.30PM, we had a relaxed visit to the famous Goravanahalli Temple (Goddess Lakshmi). When we’re travelling, we should seek out the local specials – be it the food, places, and activities. For, every place has its own charm.

The ~30-KM road up to the Tumkur highway NH4 was a toughie and took as much time as we took to cover the remaining ~100 odd KMs. It was dark, raining, and the drivers in the opposite direction had high beam headlights due to the bad road conditions. It was finally a relief to reach the highway at 7.45PM. A sip of hot tea was in order. The rest of the ride via Nelamangala flyover and NICE road to my place off Kanakapura Road was surprisingly easy and quick. A hot shower followed by a tight sleep over the night ended the journey.

When was the last time you did something for the first time? I just did!

Map: https://goo.gl/maps/FDLGH

Full album: https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/+SridharMachani/albums/6014976915709054753?authkey=CLyT-cDTwpaAcw

Photosphere  (a new kind of photo to capture 360 degree view): Thanks to the Google Camera app, the Photosphere images are nice - check this and this.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

2014: A New Year Starts

The year 2013 had a lot of trials, with none making it big – how could they, I never gave it a decent run and focus.

The goals for this year are:

  • Write everyday (someone who doesn’t, is probably not a writer)
  • Build a community of people who I can guide and help in some way
  • Treat fitness effort as high priority, which might actually add a few years to one’s life
  • Celebrate more – with or without reason or occasion

As far as career goals are concerned, they are already in motion. The thing I need to keep reminding myself is that you grow with roles, not with hikes or changing jobs. And you get into a role by already performing that role.

What about you? If you’re still making up your mind, try having a theme for the year, be it health, prosperity, or both. Good luck!