Trip Meter

Bombay 0 - Kalyan 48 - Saralgaon 91 - Malshej Ghat 138 - Jai Maharashtra dhaba 147 - Murbad 216 - Kalyan 253 - Bombay 301.

[Numbers beside the place are trip meter readings in km at that point.]

This trip began like all other Sunday trips that are supposed to start at 6 am do; by snoozing the alarm and going back to sleep. I showed up at Jassi's place to pick him up two hours later than I was supposed to. Jassi came down, threw his film camera in my backpack (yes, he is awesome like that!) and strapped a red helmet that I had carried for him. "Where are we going?" I asked him.

"Malshej Ghat," he replied.

Malshej Ghat it was then. We wanted to ride to a place from where we could come back by evening. Malshej Ghat was a moutain pass in the Western Ghats about 150 km from Bombay and fitted the bill perfectly. Jassi had a fair point - we were going east in the morning and west in the evening - riding into the sun bothways.

It was a beautiful morning. A cloudy bright sky and a soft orange sun that would occasionally show up. We tanked up at Mulund (had to pay with my kidneys) and took to Eastern Express Highway out of Bombay. The flyovers in Thane were alright, but the sudden potholes near fatal. At the 50 km mark, we hit Kalyan. It took imagination to see the road in between the ditches. A suburb this far from Bombay has no business being so cramped, shabby and noisy. India was bursting with people and our infrastructure is nowhere near where it should be. As the wise people have already said, "India is developing 'despite' the ..."

We stopped for a quick breakfast - Misal pav and Samosa usal pav. Jassi broke the pav, dipped it in the red gravy and put it in his mouth. White fumes shot out of his ears. "No Misal pav, this is a Missle pav," Jassi warned.

The road beyond Kalyan regained some dignity and stopped resembling moon's surface. We were now on NH222 and zipping through a greener country - Of rivers, green paddy fields and sunflower farms. Of village markets selling skinned chicken, lamb legs, coconuts, bananas and fresh flowers. The road waved up and down as we cruised its gentle curves at a nice 60-80 kmph.

All seemed lovely and breezy. This was till a buffalo jumped out of nowhere onto the road. The Maruti Zen 20 meters ahead of us hit the brakes but rammed directly into the buffalo. The buffalo let out a loud shriek and went flying into the air. After a full somersault in the high air, in what seemed like a slow-mo scene from Inception, the buffalo landed on the road with a great thud. We stopped too. The car passengers were in a shock. Luckily, no one inside the car was hurt. The car's bonnet and engine was completely wrecked. And then, in an almost dark comical twist, the buffalo got up and hopped away.

We rode ahead, through forest reserves and ghats till the Western Ghats range was directly in front of us. The monsoon clouds collided with the mountains and created a misty mausam of baarish. September end was a great time to pick this ride - the heavy rains were gone but the white waterfalls still ran through the greens on the hills.

A few steep zigzags took us to the top of the pass. On the other side of the pass, life was quiet, rustic and slow. We stopped at a roadside dhaba called 'Jai Maharashtra'. Over a long slow lunch of fried fish, mutton masala and many bottles of Thums Up, we talked about personal computing. When an Apple fanboy and a Linux geek talk technology, you know where the conversation goes.

Our return ride was less eventful where Jassi and I took turns to bring the bike home. The bike turned in a respectable 30 kmpl on this ride.

Tags: India, Ride, Royal Enfield

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