September 22, 2011

A Nap on a Punjabi Road - A page from a Biker's diary

            I was sitting in a Hotel room, searching for colder water than Tap water to have bath and get relief from the heat. It was a dreadfully hot day of July'09 in Jammu with slightly cloudy weather and a hot sun. Light Breeze was moving few tree leaves whose movement could be measured by a vernier caliper. It had rained heavily last night but hadn't helped in a slightest way to comfort us. I guess there was at least 50% share of sweat in the water which was running on the road. 
           I had just completed the Ladakh Biking circuit starting from Ambala and ending at Jammu after covering entire Ladakh region. It is one of the most revered destinations for Motor bikers. The circuit covered 10 mountain passes from which 5 fall under top 10 highest passes of the world including Khardung La which is the highest motorable pass in the world. Previous day we had just arrived in Jammu from Sonmarg covering 405 mountain Kilometers and the weather shock was tremendous. 
            We decided to continue on bikes to Pune and were planning accordingly. We had covered about 2500 Km and there was some bike maintenance to do. I was ready and was eager to cover few destinations more than others. Finally six of us decided that I would start early on my bike. I will visit Bagha border and then we would meet in Amritsar. We would together then proceed to Ambala and further to Delhi. Rather than sitting sweating in the dreadful Jammu, I thought it better to be on Bike with wind easing the discomfort.
             My day had began a 6am but I started riding around 11. After getting out of Jammu and riding rather under construction road with heavy traffic to Pathankot, I finally reached on Pathankot - Amritsar highway. And believe me I haven't seen more spectacular road till that day. Impeccable tar road with almost zero potholes. Extremely well marked with white paint. Light traffic with no people running here and there on the roads. Trees planted along the road on both sides and beyond that endless lush green farms. What more a rider can expect. To cut it short.. I had a wonderful ride to Amritsar and Bagha Border. Jammu to Amritsar is about 220Km and Bagha border is another 40 Km from there. By the time I reached Amritsar, I got a call from my friends that they lost lot of time in getting the bikes in shape and so they would not be coming to Amritsar but will be meeting me directly at Ludhiana/Jalandhar or Ambala as per convenience. 

            So there I was. Alone on bike in the fantastic city of Amritsar. I decided not to rush for return journey. Even if I had to ride in the nighttime I would spent time in Amritsar and enjoy it completely. After enjoying the view of Golden Temple and cherishing memories of Martyrs at Jaliawala Baug, I started my return journey. It was 7.30 in the evening when I left Golden temple premises and it took about an hour just to escape from Amritsar traffic and get on the highway. I had a talk with my friends and they were taking halt at a village named Khanna which was 80km before Ambala. So it was about 160 Km before I could reach my friends and relax.

           I had already ate in Amritsar a lot - Paratha, Laccha kulfi, Lassi. I had a tea stop after escaping the traffic and then headed towards Jalandhar. As a trekker, I can control feeling of hunger, sleep, cold , heat etc. But with the fantastic heavy dinner in my belly and cool wind of the night took the necessary toll. I had started my day at 6 in the morning and till that hour I had continuously traveled. It was somewhere around 10pm and I was somewhere before Jalandhar where I got bit sleepy.

         The key to the successful and safe night driving is that you should be constantly on alert and must be able to tackle the headlight of vehicles in opposite direction. To achieve both of these conditions you must not be sleepy. If these two conditions are not met then even if you are driving dead slow, you can get into serious trouble. In my experience it is best to take a small nap. Relax your eyes as well as brain and then start again. You can cover up more distance in alert 1.5 hrs than sleepy 2 hrs. Now this was the time to put my theory into the force. 

          The moment I felt that I am losing my alertness, I stopped on the road side. Parked my bike on the main stand just outside of the white line which marks main road and the roadside. I took off my backpack, using it as a pillow, within a minute I was looking at dark night sky dotted with millions of stars. I wasn't lying there to see the stars and so in another minute I was knocked out on a smooth, warm, tar road in Punjab. 

           It was a lovely 30 minutes power nap. At the end of that time, I heard some movement near my head. I opened my eyes and saw a Sardarji towering over me. He asked me whether I was alright and suggested me to travel few kilometers to Jalandhar and stay in Hotel. I told him that I must ride ahead and I had my power nap. Around 10.45, I started the ride again and by 12, I was sitting with my friends in Khanna.

           It has been now several years, but I still remember the day where I slept on the road in a completely strange area. I still recall that good Sardarji who towered over me and gave a suggestion with absolute affection. That was a beginning for my True Roadies Life. I became more bolder and did more ambitious thing later on. The foundation of all that was in that one Nap on the roads of Punjab.

- Pinakin Karve

1 comment:

  1. loved the blog.....reminded me off my journey in punjab. it was not as adventurous, but yes have touched all the places u named. beautiful roads covered by eucalyptus trees. had one relative and stayed in khanna. it was more memorable, as i was all alone during this two day trip in punjab..enjoying hospitality of big hearted punjabis.....