Good things have this strange habit. They come to an end. Every time. I guess that what makes them special. That, however, was the last thought on my mind when I left Bangalore today for Mangalore.
The plan was simple. Since I had spent 9 days in Bangalore, I needed to reach Mumbai quicker than earlier. So I would head to Mangalore, then to Karwar, spend a day in Goa and reach Mumbai the next day. Pretty simple, huh? I woke up at 11.30 after a rather extended night watching random films. However, half a day is more than enough to get to Mangalore and visit Kasaragod. It was a good plan.
It happened when I was standing at the traffic signal at Nelmangala waiting to turn left towards Mangalore. My heart said – What the hell. Let’s go to Mumbai. For a change, my head supported my head. My hands followed suit. I was barreling down NH4.
I didn’t think too much about it. I wasn’t really worried about where night will fall and where I will stay. I had no target. I just had the road and I followed it. Everytime I stopped for a cup of tea, I would think and come to same conclusion – Let’s get to the next stop. So Hubli came and went. Dharwad didn’t even register. Belgaum arrived without warning. It was 9.30 in the night when I left Belgaum and approached the state border of Maharashtra.
I have never experiences winter in the peninsula. It is quite cold. Not cold as Delhi cold or Ladakh cold. Cold with slight wind chill. Cold which makes you shiver inside. Especially when you are riding. The inner lining of my jacket was in my bag. I hadn’t used them since I left Sikkim. My solitary glove (I lost the other one in Orissa) was also in the bag. And I was too lazy to get them out. It was only when I hit Kolhapur and stood in the parking area of a McDonalds outlet that I realized how cold I was and took both of them out.
The journey from Belgaum to Kolhapur will be one of the more memorable stretches. The road was one of the smoothest I have come across. Thankfully divided with large shrubs in the middle meant there was no worry about high beams from the other side. Visibility was great. There was regular truck traffic but all the local transport was off since it was a cold night. It was ripping time. The distance is about 108 kilometers. I reached Kolhapur in about 1 hour 10 minutes. Average speed approx. 100 kmph.
At Kolhapur, I thought again with the same result. I was in Satara 122 kilometers ahead in about an hour and a half. Pune was next. When I stopped for a cup of tea, it was 3.30 in the morning. Roads to Pune were quite bad. As I sat there, I had my first yawn of the night. Sleep will come in a couple of hours. I needed to make good those couple of hours. Mumbai is about 3 hours away. I have done the stretch earlier when I was feeling really sleepy and I didn’t like it. This one had to be different.
I roared past everything in my sight. I was having a hard time keeping awake but thankfully didn’t doze off like I did last time. I stopped again at Khopoli to eat some bhurji-paav and a cup of tea. Feeling slightly better, I made the final dash.
Entering Mumbai was almost surreal. I had seen the streets after three months but that’s not why it looked so surreal. It was because I had been on such a out of the world tour that it seemed that the trip had been nothing but an extended dream. It seemed unreal that I had left the place at all. Thankfully my mind was largely occupied with thoughts of reaching home before sleep hit me and I tried to concentrate on the road. I was home.
It was 6.30 in the morning. I had been riding for 1000 kilometers for 16 hours straight.
I felt dead. I felt more alive than I have ever felt.
I was overjoyed that the trip was over.
I was immensely sad that the trip was over.
I am not sure I still believe it actually happened.
Where do we go now?