A little while back, I wrote this for the BikeNomads 2009 calendar. Well, this among other things.
…The evening birds match chords with my thump. The neon lights of the city become blurry lines as I enter the encroaching dark of the highway. The earth is my bed, the sky is my roof…
When I left my home that evening, those words seemed to spring to life. The heavy traffic, snarls created by the Prime Minister’s visit to town and the general rush of the Mumbaikar were all slightly overshadowed by the anticipation of the BikeNomads Mumbai Meet. And the weight on shoulders. The party was only beginning.
9.30 pm. Vashi Toll Naka.
As I approach the toll gate, a couple of bikes go past and stop after crossing over. So do I. The first Nomads had arrived. In time, more arrived. Then some more. We were losing count. There were more than we thought. Finally when decided to settle for two over the required count, the Mothership arrived. Parimal and his UFO – a ZMA with dual HIDs. Too bad no one took a picture of from the front. Then again, I don’t think one can. Here’s what it looks like from the side.
The Palm Beach road was a streak of yellow tail lamps cruising and weaving around white markers. Twin blinkers up front and twin blinkers at the back. People gave way and poked their head out and wondered – What the hell? The entourage was intimidating and inspiring at the same time. On to the highway and mammoth trailers giving way, their drivers scratching their heads. Not much later, the snaking yellow line reached the Mahalaxmi Dhaba. It was 10.30 in the night.
The next two hours (which everyone thought would be case) kept extending as introductions were made, calendars were distributed, new friends found and motorcycles and motorcycling gear discussed at length. Oh and chicken cooked. And chicken eaten. Oh, for the love of God.
When we rose to leave it was almost 3 in the night. Lights were flicked on, gears engaged and the grand BN bike train left to raid the city before the pigeons woke up. Well, at least some of us did. Many had to go back to fuming wives and kids with a LOT of explaining to do.
At 3.30 in the morning, we rolled to a stop on the Palm Beach Road. It was picture time.
I remember having mentioned sometime during the preparation for the ride that we will ride back as the sun rises. Nobody had expected this but time had just flown away. Familiar sights came across from the many other time when I entered the city at that ungodly hour. Few cars zipping past. More policemen than people. Pavement dwellers sleeping tightly holding their small quilts over them. Night taxis waiting, their drivers bored. Small trucks unloading supply for the next day – meat, milk, eggs, all kinds of things. A whole new world waks up as the city goes to sleep. This is Mumbai. The city which never sleeps. And we are nomads in this amazing city.