Monday, October 30, 2006

a post that became royally published

So there I am, with my first official publishing of an article on the Internet(other than on blogs). Its the old trip story, but on a different site.

Yeah !

At the Royal Enfield Site Buddies. And the Trip Story is published under the name Chilling Alone In Chikmagalur

The mail saying that my article is published came today afternoon, and how much joy I had. It was a different feeling altogether. A few months back I was just a reader of those trip stories that got published on the RE site. While reading those, I sat in awe about the IndieThumpers, BikeNomads and those Solo Riders, thinking when will I do atleast 10% of what these guys are doing. I haven't even created a login then, to read about the technical discussions that went on in the site while PP and Abhi - who also were RE fans at that time like me - made and told me about various details about the bikes. I never thought about publishing one trip story there, but today I have put one there. And Today I and Abhi own two beautiful Royal Red Beasts, while PP is still contemplating on the upgradation from his Defintely Male All Black Pulsar 180 to the Thunderbird. I am sure he will be ready with a ravishing Black Bird for the Himalayan Odyssey.

Its an un explainable feeling to see your article published, up there somewhere, after all the editing and filtering. Be it on the Campus Magazine or the Newspaper or a local intranet. You read, read and read to know what all the editor has changed from the master copy that you sent him/her. Then you analyze the changes in language he/she made.

In this case they didn't do any editing, but a publication is a publication, and that too on the Royal Enfield Site. It may be a trivial thing, but for mortals like me it means a lot!!!.

Many Thanks for all those who make it a point to visit my blog and comment. And thanks for all the friends and family who were with me, as an invisible helping hand, throughout those 862 kms. Without you I wouldn't have made it :)

PS: I know this blog is becoming a bit monotonous these days, always about the bird. But that is what happen when people fall in love right? They always think about their soulmates :)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

'nick'ing me up

What’s there in a name? People would ask. What’s there in a nick name? I would say there is a lot in it. Especially in an “A-Peru” – the term which is used in North Kerala for Nick Names. “Inte A-perenthaado? Inikkithu vare A perittile aarum??” Such would be the questions from the cousins. I really don’t know how that name originated, but guess it might be a distant cousin of A-padam which meant Adult Only Movies. So A-peru may be name for Adults, but it never was.

Last week on someone’s blog I saw a nick name of someone and a few days before, me and my room mate were discussing about the different nick names my second room mate had. It made me nostalgic thinking of all those nice and funny names that I had over the period of time from the school days till this day. Then there were also the funny names around; of which I knew the origin, or I called most frequent. It was fun, even though many may not like it. And then it’s nostalgic too. So here I go with those names which were given to me at various stages of my life. Hope no one of those guys which I mentioned here mind.

Kozhi: The first and only genuine A-Peru I have maintained all through this life. I was blessed with that name in as early as 5th standard, where we all moved to the new school from different schools. As my surname and father’s name was Gopinath, I was assigned Kozhi from Gopinathan->Kozhinathan->Kozhi. See how villainous they were in naming me. But then there were also RajaVembala (from surname Rajagopalan), Boost (Due to the shape of the person), Kochimban (Due to hairy body I guess – name took from the character Kochimban Bear in Circussum Poraattavum, A Malayalam Supplement Book), Ittapush Vegetarian (God Knows the origin – the character was a Veggie Namboothiri) and AndiPottan (Another Fattie). There were a lot of people who used to call me once, now there are a few only, may be a Buzz on the chat window – “Eda Kozhiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii” – to which I will reply – “Podeeeeeee Boooooooooooooosteeeeeeeeeee”. He He .. Good Old Days.

Kannadakorappan: Again from school only, but not from my classmates. It in fact came from my sister’s class may due this spectacled boy’s frequent visits to their class, to ensure my little sis is not being teased by the naughty boys :) . She might have been the creator of it, though she never confessed it. Still sometimes I hear that once in a while, when she is so angry – “Poda Kannadakorappaaa”.

Kalippan: The Collegian Angry Young Man. But that didn’t come so soon, it took its time and came only after an year or so into the college basically when I moved into the phenomenon called Men’s Hostel, that too Government Men’s Hostel. Yea, as the name suggests I was a bit short tempered those days, you know angry young man who wants to change the world and all those blah blahs ;). I cannot say I was a bit short tempered; I was too much hot tempered. Getting angry for anything and everything that frustrated TP and ended every time he asking “Neeyenthinaa Choodavunnathu, Paranja Pore”. I hope that phase is over now; I am a lot calmer now :) And as a Kalippan I lived amongst some strange names called Petti (His nick is more famous than his name), Petti Abhilash (Just because Abhilash was Petti’s roommate), Dolby (for his DTS voice), Mammali (Of course Basheerian version of Mohd. Ali), Maaman, Pappan, Thadiyan, IB (since his father was in I.B, yeah Intelligence Bureau), Mathann, Maami, Puttu and what not.

DAN-GO: Well, it’s not a nickname or a pet name. It may be something in the middle. Anil wanted some sort of short names for everyone in the class at college for the E-Groups or something like that and that resulted in the birth of this name. It was the acronym he got from Dhanush Gopinath. Another one was put V-GAS also. Only very few like the Idiyan or the Dolby call me that name these days.

Dinkan: Then came this from the institute I worked as Lecturer. I never know what prompted my colleagues putting it up, but it happened one sudden day that they decided to call me by this name. May be Dhanush and Dinkan rhymed well. There were Hanuman (Due to Size), Gajju (Due to size and the actual name started with J), Kova, Vadivelu (Slim Beauty!!) and Ritchie (The colleague who instructed that we should teach C based on the book of Dennis Ritchie when Balaguruswamy was ruling the roost) along with me in that prestigious institution in Vadakara where I started my Lectureship days.

Puli: From the ITP days in MBT, an inapt name coined by dearest friends Kich and Seena. By the time I joined MBT I had a good understanding of Computer Subjects like Operating Systems, Data Structures, and C; mostly due to my teaching experience. And as we had to get trained in these subjects at MBT I used to teach these guys and other friends in our gang. That went on by them calling me Puli since they thought I am an expert in these subjects and also the guys who joined us in our house in Mumbai also started calling me the same name. Still now when Seena pop up on the chat window she screams “Da Puleee”.

Dhanno: It happened when I moved to Pune with Ramlal and Pillu. They found Dhanush to be too long and gave me the name of Basanti's Horse in the movie Sholay. On a Friday weekend Ramlal would come into cube and say "Challe Mere Dhanno, Ajinkya Chalthe hai aur woh Pillu Saab ko bhi bulathe hai". We were of to the Bar ani Restaurant next to our office. On a more lovelier note, they will even call me Dhanno Darlling. Chall-Dhanno is from were named this blog. As we moved into a bigger house my good friend Google (Whatever you discuss with him, this guy will have a relevant story to tell you, just like Google finds you the pages. No wonder he is achieving double the target in his sales.) and Ramlal's friend Jatt (The Haryanvi Body Builder) joined us. Jatt was much younger than us and he started calling us by suffixing Bhayya to our names. So I became Dhanno Bhaayya, and the rest Ramlal Bhayya, Pillu Bhayya and the funnier Google Bhayya :-).

Log Nishku: Those MBTian days (I was only a Tech Mahindrian for 7 days). Courtesy my Malayali friends there with whom I used to travel, party, drink, cook, play and eat. It was initially Still Photogrpaher Nischal Kumar (from the movie Kilukkam) shortened to Nishku, because in every trip I did with them I carried my camera. In the final trip I even carried my tripod and my luggage was so heavy. It then changed to Log Nishku because I once complained about the non-availability of enough logs in the system I was working on then. None of them calls me personally by that name, but in the group mailing lists the mail id is mapped to that name and also in mails we will address each other by these names when things get heated up ;). All of us has some name or other like a Maruthu Pandi (Beacuse he comes from Trivandrum and closer to Tamilnadu), Golconda Thampuran (Because his favorite brand was Golconda Brandy), Gemini Singh Aluwalia (For his liking for Punjaabi Kudis), Seedorf (The Brilliant FootBaller), Bullet Nitin (Nitin who owned Bullet Machismo) Vriddha Manavalan (A friend who married late, he claims to be 28 but we claim he is 35 ;) ) Pamman (For the "hot" stories he brings us about anything under the roof of MBT).

Ponmaatra and Vikraman: Thanks to Bangalore Boyz, I was blessed with two more names. Ponmaatra arrived during one drinking session where we were discussing about the film Thanmaatra and I said some blunder (due to the effects the drinks made in me), to which PophAbhi responded –“Nee Thanmaathrayallada Nee Ponmaatrayaa Ponmaatra” . Then onwards for a short period I was Ponmaatra until I spotted a horizontal lined white and grey T-Shirt. It didn’t take much time for them to come up with Vikraman. Yes you guessed it right, the dacoit in Mayavi in the Balarama Comics who spotted a similar kind of T-Shirt. But then as I live among Appooppan and Tommy, I shouldn’t mind it.

So these were all the ones I could remember, the nick names from the past and present, the A-Peru’s that made me famous and infamous and the identities one will find in me. Whenever I go back to these nick names, there is a unique joy which comes from deep within the heart that reminds me of those phases of my life during which I was named. It is still fun and joy, when some one calls me by that name err by that A-Peru.

Now I know all of you guys will be having that sweet smile in between your lips thinking of what to call me next time you meet me. But I bet you will be confused which one to select.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

she held on.. we made it ..

I was getting frustrated as the VijayaDashami long weekend approached. My long weekend plans were appearing to get disrupted; with my friend Abhi not able to join me here in Bangalore due to unavoidable circumstances. I didn’t know what to do until I thought about going myself out to some where from the city. I wanted to go out but didn’t know where to until Tanuja’s blog pointed me to Chikmagalur. Chikmagalur was around 240 kms from here, and I needed some one with me atleast as a pillion.
And as I asked around about the place people told me about the places I should see, routes I should take and even about the hotels I could stay. But no one was ready to come. My last hope was my roommate Aravind, but he also had some problems in joining me. On Thursday I came across an article in bike nomads - I was researching through different sites of biking for tips, locations and driving routes - where the author Sachin Rao had emphasized the need of traveling solo on the bike. That along with the teaser of the documentary that won founder Gaurav Jani accolades, acted as the catalyst for me to set out solo. Then there was my hostel mate and batch mate Arun U. R who rides a Thunderbird and most of the times solo. He was the inspiration for me to biking and long rides, and of course getting the Bird. I always have long discussions with him about the bike. And on Thursday night too we had one long discussion about riding solo, things I should take care while driving, spares I should carry with me and other general stuff. He told me to go ahead and wished me good luck.
Still I was not sure, whether to go ahead or not. There were a lot of people discouraging me. Yea, they were true in the sense that I was alone and if I needed any help en-route I had nobody except the nature and the public. And then I have to convince my people back home about why I am going. That was a big task, but I had a way to tackle it.
By Friday morning I was decided, that come what may I am going ahead. I will ask around for one last time in the office, if any one was ready I will get them along, otherwise I am going alone. I went to the Royal Enfield showroom with the bike. They tuned the carburetor for me and showed me how to change the clutch cable and accelerator cable and checked the bike all in all. When I went to the office my teammates were still skeptical about my journey. But I was decided, I am going. I googled and found out the routes, took the necessary printouts for my help and talked to a colleague of mine who have been to Chikmagalur and Kudremukh. In the afternoon I went and bought the Cramster Saddle bags as I didn’t want to carry the luggage on my shoulders.
By evening I drew the final plan. It was like this - Leaving to Chikmagalur on 30th Sep early morning, reaching around noon, and settling in a lodge. After noon off to Mulyangiri and Baba Budan Hills. 1st Oct morning off to Kudremukh and spend the day there. On 2nd to Kemmangundi and return. I left a bit early than normal, went to withdraw money from ATM and filled in the tank to the full. At home I packed my stuff and slept early.
I woke up early, had a quick bath and left by sharp 5AM. I took the outer ring road till Hebbal Flyover and then took NH 4 towards Tumkur. At 6AM I took my first break at Nelamangala, 52 kms from my house, and had a tea. From there I took the NH48 to Mangalore and boy that was one hell of a road. Perfectly tarred with lots of curves and slopes, in some areas you could easily touch 100+ kmph. But I had to keep my bird within 70Kmph as I was in running period. It was really tough from my part to control the speed. Avengers, Pulsars and even Splendors over took me, but I didn’t mind. I kept a constant 70.
After 75 kms I had my second break for a nature call and there I met my boss who also was leaving for Hassan that same day. He wished me good luck and bid adieu before asking me to drop in at his house if I am returning via Hassan. I continued my journey after some time and had my breakfast at Hassan. I was now 60 kms away from my destination. There I called a few friends to talk about my journey and Tanuja told me to visit Belur and Halebid also if possible. They were on the way to Chikmagalur and famous for temples of Hoysala Architecture.
After the breakfast I took the road to Chikmagalur from Hassan and that also was a good road. And now slowly the nature around was changing from the plains to small sloppy mountains with lots of agriculture around. I drove to a small hillock a few meters of the main road and took some pictures. I stopped wherever I could see nature at its best and took pictures. And by 11.30 I was at Chikmagalur. I checked into a small lodge and settled my stuff. I asked at the hotel about the route to Mulayangiri and Baba Budan Hills and left. My first decision was to go to Baba Budan Hills and come back to Mulayangiri. But as I approached the diversion that takes you to Mulayangiri, I stopped and thought and then in a split second I took the left to Mulayangiri. The road up to Mulayangiri was winding and curving. It was understandable as Mulayangiri is the highest peak in Karnataka and stands 1930 meters tall. As I climbed with the Bird I could feel the chillness in the air. The visor of my helmet became moist and I found it difficult adjusting to the different terrain. Sharp curves, narrow road and deep valley on one side definitely made me scary.
I felt for the first time that if something goes wrong, then I am alone. Somehow I was able to over come that thought and rode ahead smoothly relaxing. I did stop many a times to take some pictures, including at Seethalaingiri, which is a temple en-route. The peak was just 2 kms from there. The final few meters to the peak was not tarred and I was a bit hesitant to take the bike ahead. However I took her ahead and I found a lot of crowd there. I parked the bike and as I started climbing the peak, it rained. I put on my jacket hat and ignored the rain and continued climbing. But at a point it became heavy and clouds came descending. I couldn’t see my way up and so I returned back. It was very difficult finding the steps as the visibility was poor and rain was pouring hard. As I reached the parking area, I took refuge behind a Scorpio and got some respite from the rain. Then the rain subsided and I start my ride back. It was really scary; I started the bike, put on the lights, honked the horn and slowly came down in the first gear. At one point I could see nothing in front and so I stopped the bike. My left leg was shivering, partly due to cold and partly due to the fear. Some how clouds moved away and I could ride back smoothly. I stopped again at Seethalaingiri on my way back and took some pictures. Rain, Roads and ThunderBird – What else you needed :).
As I came back to the junction which takes you to Baba Bundan Hills it rained and I decided to return back to the lodge. I rode slowly, enjoying the scenery, rains and roads. At 3.30 I stopped at a small hotel on the way and had MulakaBajji and 2 cups of Coffee as my lunch. I reached my lodge and slept. Only thing I missed in the night was a drink which I used to have in long rides. I had good Chicken Biriyani for my Dinner and I enquired the route to Kudremukh with Hotel Guys where I had my dinner. They said me to go via Mudigere-Kotogehara-Kalasa. I was so tired, but sleep came late and Dharmapuranam gave me a good company till then.
For the consecutive second day I woke very early and left for Kudremukh at 6AM. As decided I took the earlier mentioned route. There is a junction 10kms from Chikmagalur and I had to take left there. And I moved ahead the road was becoming horrible, the speedo was moving between 15 and 25 Kmph. But the road was again through ghats and coffee and tea plantations.
Even though I enjoyed the ride and scenery, my buttocks were paining and I had to take a lot of pit stops and I finally reached Kalasa at 9.30. That 90kms took three and half hours to cover. Huh!! At Kalasa, I had my breakfast and the restaurant owner there said about the route to Kudremukh and also advised me not to take the same route back. He said I should take Balehennur-Aldur route instead of the one I came. He also said the road to Kudremukh will be the best you can get and it was. It was superb in every sense. Sharp curves, wide and smoothly tarred and lesser traffic. I highly enjoyed that sector of the journey. Kudremukh is famous for its horse-faced hill ranges and for the Iron Ore Mining Company, KIOCL. Even though the company is now closed the township still exist. There is also a Dam, called Lakhya Dam which is used to store the Iron Ore Waste. I visited the township church which was at a height and took a few pictures of the range.
I also went to the Dam and the reservoir was full of the iron ore waste. I thought one could easily walk on the waste. There is a view point at almost the center point of the Dam where you could view the Horse faced ranges at its best.
I drove back to Kalasa and then took the Balehennur-Aldur route and it was much better than the route by which I came to Kalasa. I stopped at Balehennur for lunch and then on the way to Aldur at a Drive Inn Coffee Shop in Bhadra Coffee plantation Estate. By 5PM I was back to my lodge and I decided to drop Kemmangundi from my plans as it would be raining there and added Belur and Halebid as my destinations on my way back. I called up my boss to check if he is there in Hassan the next day and surprisingly found out that he is also visiting Halebid with his family. We decided to meet there.
I was immensely satisfied when I went to sleep. A major phase of my trip was over and I didn’t face any problem and above all I was very much happy with the performance of my bike and me as a driver. It was one of those dreams I always wanted to achieve.
The final day has arrived. I just need to keep the concentration for one final day.
I left a bit late as I had to catch up my boss at around 10 at Halebid. My first destination was Belur which was 24 kms from Chikmagalur. Belur is famous for its Chennakeshava Temple which was built by the great Hoysala Empire. The temple was very magnificent and I spend a good time capturing various pictures outside and inside the temple. Since the temples at Belur and Halebid are under Archaeological Survey of India, photography is not prohibited here.
After the breakfast I left to Halebid which is 16 kms from Belur. There are three temples there. The main Hoysaleshwara Temple, then the Jain Temple and the Kedareshwara Temple which is partly destroyed. Only Hoysaleshwara temple attracts crowds. My Boss reached a little late there and by that time I had covered all the temples. I met him and after a small chat decided to leave. I took the Hassan road from Halebid so that I do not need to come back to Belur.
As I reached Hassan, I checked the tyre pressure and hit the NH. The ride was getting a bit boring because of the sudden change of the terrains and at times I was losing my concentration. And more over the traffic had increased and KSRTC buses were giving a tough time to me as they pushed me out of the road a couple of times.
I stopped at an Andhra Dhaba to have my lunch. I left again and cruised and reached Nelamangala at 4PM. I had a tea break there and left to my home. When I reached the home and parked my bike, the odometer showed 862 as the trip kilometers.
862 Kilometers is what I covered in 3 days riding solo on my Red Bird from home to Chikmangalur – Mulayangiri – Kudremukh – Belur – Halebid and then back to home. It is a just small step to start with and I now have the confidence to ride any where alone. Just me and my bird and my loneliness.
Drive Safe Buddies and Check out My Motorcycle Diaries when you have time :)