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All For A Bath In The Summer

The fact the above was the only picture we clicked on the last ride we had gone on should tell you enough why there was no story about the same here. There are those times when you feel like strangling someone but don’t because you are too darn sweaty from the heat. This was one of those days.

Sunday June 7: We left Delhi in the morning at 6. This was the first time I was riding with Hitanshu (Hits; fellow nomad at BN) and I didn’t have the first clue about where we were going. There was some canal where we were supposed to take a bath. Having woken up that early in Delhi after a month or more, the scene was more than welcome. Hits’ Pulsar with a Bullet seat was something of an odd sight. “Ultra comfortable” is how he described the seat.

With barely a minute passed, we had traveled from IIT Delhi to Nizamuddin Bridge and were cruising through Ghaziabad. The roads were lovely and the early morning riding after about 2 hours sleep was like a dream. Now, I wasn’t sleeping or anything because Hits kept me on my toes. His riding style is almost opposite of mine. He will overtake from left if the need arises and zip away. I will flash my light to whoever it is in front of me and force him to give way. They always do. But today, I had to change my directions a bit to keep up with him. I didn’t like it too much but thin traffic made it rather easy.

The funny thing about Hapur Toll Gate is that the bloody thing is 37 kilometers away from Hapur. It takes about as much time from there to reach Delhi as it takes to reach Hapur. I don’t know who on good ol’ Mother Earth decided to call it the Hapur Toll Gate.

A few questions later we were at the place we had come for. Nice little canal. The water was way muddier than Hits had thought and I had imagined. To confirm this was it, we contacted the third musketeer, Kamlesh Sanwal (Kam; his blog is here). Yes, this was it. And it was disappointing. We decided to catch Kam at the Ganga on Braj Ghat. What better than Upper Ganga Canal for a bath? The Ganga itself, of course. Big mistake.

We breezed past Hapur and reached Garhmukteshwar when the Gods decided we had enough fun for a lifetime. Traffic came to a literal standstill. Out of the 2 lanes that the government had built, the traffic from our side occupied 6. Yes, you read that right. Traffic spilled over from the highway to any surface one could find – gravel, sand, mud, vegetation. There was tyre mayhem all over. Front tyres getting stuck, rear tyres slipping away, both wheels locked while braking up a steep incline. There was dust everywhere and visibility was low. There were pedestrians everywhere. And temperature was upwards of 43 degrees. We were getting baked in our jackets. It was hell.

It took us about one and half hours and all our manoeuvrings skills to reach the Ganges. We met Kam (who was on his way back from a weeklong trip to Uttarakhand; also from BN) on the bridge and immediately lunged for the water and Coke. The situation was grim. Apparently, it was the full moon day of the current Hindu month and supposedly one of the nicest and holiest of days to take a dip in the Ganges. Holy, you ask? Holy crap, I say. This was Kumbh Mela, for God’s sake. There were people everywhere. The entire ghat was swarming with pilgrims. And they just kept pouring in. This was anything but holy.

We sat in shade for about an hour or so contemplating what to do. Hits still wanted to go take a dip. I and Kam wanted to strangle him. Eventually democracy won the day and we turned back with Kam in tow. None of us had eaten much. I had eaten nothing. We were dehydrated. We were all going to be sick. The return was equally painful. We persevered on and finally, I reached the Upper Ganga Canal again after 2 hours. There was no sign of Hits and Kam, though. I checked my messages. They were waiting for me about 30 kilometers back. Come over, I said. And then I fell asleep. That there were about 40 kids splashing around in the canal less than 1 meters away from me didn’t make a difference.

Eventually they came about 1 and a half hours later. I woke up, drank the water they had got and we got ready to do some bathing – India style. The water was cold. It was muddy and dirty but not something that would give us a disease. It felt heavenly. We were shivering for the first minute. This was great.

We stayed in the water for about an hour. Leaving for home, Hits realized he has hit the one roadblock he cannot dodge. The call from his wife. So he rushed away while me and Kam took our time, slowly rolling into Delhi along with the early evening sun. We contemplated eating at a dhaba but couldn’t find a decent one. We ended up buying a few paranthas at Moolchand and took them home. This has got to be one of the best meals I have had.

I think at the end of the day, I have but one regret. That we didn’t strangle Hits on the Ganga. No one would have noticed one dead body in that melee and so many corpses go down the Ganga every year anyway. Let’s hope we don’t have to regret this lost chance.

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