December 3rd, 2010
BikeShuffle: The Police – Walking in Your Footsteps
Following a new high in kiddie antics yesterday, I think the missus may have spotted a look of pain which got stuck on my face and didn’t come off. She asked if perhaps the 20×7 childcare might be getting to me, just a little (i’m discounting Dumpie’s four hours of school). From there, it was an amazingly quick and congenial discussion that, unbelievably, saw us decide that I would drive up to Hampi this morning in order to scratch (and hopefully eradicate) the bike itch which has been plaguing me ever since we got back to Goa. Result!
So, we’re looking at a rather involved scoot — about 370 km’s each way — not likely to be something that can be done in a single day. This gives us a little bit of flexibility on routing, and rather than take the standard Highway 17 and 63 route, I think i’m going to go by way of the Anshi National Park. Will be travelling minimal, and with no spares or tools beyond my LeatherGirl it does mean that even small mechanical problems in the boondocks could prove to be a major headache (although I just know that cocktail fork is going to come in handy!).
Anshi National Park
Snake! Stretched out and sunning itself on a sharp turn. Nearly spanning the road. I thought it was a tree branch at first and lazily steered to the left to avoid it. As I got closer I could make out the head, watching me, and then it gave the smallest slither to allow a small gap at the side for me for me to ride through. Must have been over two metres, since there was very little road left, and he wasn’t even fully stretched out.
I found myself wondering whether they could strike fast enough to bite you if you drive over them.
“The Road has Fallen Apart….”
About 100k’s in, and still in the depths of the National Park. The road has been varied to say the least, offering up some buttery surfaces that allow for fantastic glides through beautifully secluded stretches, and then, literally with a single turn, it goes completely rat shit for several kilometers.
After one particularly jagged section, I had to stop and to screw the two seat bolts in with pliers, where one had given away, and the other was loose to the point of falling off. For twenty minuts i was sat in the middle of the road, with screaming jungle on all sides, and no one passed me.
I can’t help but think how similar, and yet different, this experience is to the schlep that Tash and I made across the entire country back in 1994. For one, it would have been impossible to keep up a semi-ironic sms conversation with Johno in Sydney – he at a Citrix conference and me tooling around out the back of bejesus. But today it seems almost normal.
I would also have felt stupid leaving anywhere to make this kind of journey with three pairs of skivvies, some bug spray and a lungi stuffed into a messenger bag. But today, that is also the reality. And if in 1994 I were to haul out my laptop to start tapping away….well, that could never have been a reality, actually, not on my budget. The most portable word processor back then would have cost a bomb and probably wouldn’t have stood the jouncing too well . Plus it would have started a riot. Now, the local guys are standing quite casually behind me, looking over my shoulder pretending they can read what I’m writing. ‘No biggie’ is the message intended by their careless demeanor. ‘We’ve seen plenty of laptops.’ Still, I suspect it’s likely to be a scene that is repeated if I’m going to insist on typing in public. The good news is that, thanks to PhotoBooth, everything that happens over your shoulder is open season. Except – woops – they’ve already tired of me. Here’s a photo nonetheless.
Still looking a little shellshocked, I see. A hundred Indian kilometers are rarely trivial.
And, here’s one the other way round. A typical hotel scene that is likely to be underway in a hundred thousand different places across the country.
Hubli – The Mayuram Hotel
Happiness is making the effort to look at four different hotels at the end of a long day, only to find that they keep getting better and more affordably priced. Have washed up at a place with a large television and cold showers, but conveniently placed beside all of the automotive shops and the stadium, which seems to be undergoing some sort of overhaul through the night.
I can’t believe how much more developed the town seems compared with the last time i was through here. The streets are full of western-style shops and nice cars and everyone i’ve spoken with seems to be sporting a large watch (no doubt of Chinese origin). I have drawn a few protracted stares in the street (the kind of stop-what-you’re-doing-allow-your-mouth-to-fall-open kind that you only get in India) but this has been balanced by people i’ve talked to who are almost at pains to keep interest levels on the mild side. “Country name?” or one of its many variants is the preferred question to start the bidding. Most people take a second to mull over ‘Canada’ (it can be a confusing answer since Kanada is also the name of the language here) but the guy selling hardware had distant relatives there (although he knew not where). Hubli is one of the best examples i’ve encountered on the new Indian middle class. Now, what the hell might they want to buy from me?
Otherwise, have spent a couple of happy hours buying tools (spanners, allen key, spare points) and making shims for my handlebars out of empty beer cans.
I had to empty the beer cans in order to get the metal to make the shims, which makes me think I should probably head to bed before i dream up a repair that requires a bottle of whisky.