SOUTHERNMOST COAST OF INDIA
I might be in the middle of almost nowhere when the sun rose in full glory! It was hot. Really hot. East Coast Road of India is amazing. It takes you to absolutely remote villages or barren lands for several kilometers. I love the road for this.
As i started approaching the southernmost point, i could see many salt plants. Then i saw a few local people with Goiter. As i went further, i felt what is called wind power. It was so windy and the government rightly made windmills in this region. As i approached Kanyakumari, i constantly kept looking at the sun.
As i parked Hodor at my accomodation in Kanyakumari, i could still see the sun. I knew i made it in time to see the sun set. I completed the challenge i had given to myself. I saw the sun rise from as close as it get to Sri Lanka in the east and then will see it set at the southernmost part of India connected by land.
As i saw the sun set next to Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean into Arabian Sea, i was surprised i felt immense peace just by looking at what was in front of me. If i have to use one word to summarise my experience at Kanyakumari seeing the sun set then 'peaceful' be the word! I am not sure how that moment had so much power to make me forget the fatigue, the train of thoughts in my mind and my craving for fish. It was actually very magical!
I thought this was the perfect moment for me to bring on the self-introspection. I initiated the process by saying, 'Hmmm so i have turned 28 now'. The response to this was 'So?'. I knew at that time that it was false alarm.
I would like to take a special para to insult the people who like to express their love on Indian monuments. This is really sad, people. What was the point of you investing so many years in education when your morals don't stop you from doing shameful things like these. I took a birthday wish at that moment to catch someone red handed expressing their love on a monument and then i shall give them a piece of my mind!
WHAT DID I LEARN? Gut and mind over logic might end up giving you magic! (even if it a bad choice, you will still be satisfied)
WESTERN COAST OF INDIA
DAY 4: Kanyakumari to Kochi, 300 Kms, 12 Hours!
A thought snippet before i set course towards Kochi.
I developed a love-hate relationship with this the roads on this stretch. This stretch is one of the most beautiful stretches i have ever seen in my life! Going next to the ocean, passing over backwaters, greenery, coconut trees, eventually nice roads and no hard sun. This is too good to be true but it was.
I was thrown another challenge towards me called traffic. I thought luckily i am from Bangalore so this will be a cake walk for me. No sir. Taking no credit away from Bangalore, this Tamil Nadu and Kerala roads combined were no less.
It took me 4 hours to cover 100 kms! It was just too much and yes there were moments when i thought that is not worth it. Then i came up with the concept of 'The Biker'.
As per my learnings, 'The Biker' is a state of mind with nothing in the head like backpain, butt pain, need for a break, all this doesn’t in this state. Once in 'The Biker' state of mind, you become the accelerator, the brakes and the bike and end up communication with the road. It is a peaceful state of mind where nothing else matters.
'The Biker' mode helped me cover and enjoy a good distance. On the road i realised that how does one know that they are in Kerala? Well you smell something tasty being cooked in coconut oil almost every 2 kms. The fragrance was too good. Kept me going honestly. Then it rained. I realised that no state of mind can stop the rain.
It must be 9 PM and i will still riding. There was no one else on the road and i was approaching Alleppey. Suddenly, i saw a man next to the road out of nowhere with his arm stretched out towards me. For a brief moment i thought alright, my time has come. I have shared and scared a lot of people with my ghost stories next to the campfire during Get Beyond Limits events and now it's payback time. Then i realised that it was just a mannequin left by someone randomly on the road (that's my best guess).
This day, i learnt again what patience means. Also, as a bike rider i was made to master the art of maneuvering through 2 lane highway traffic without a divider. This was completely out of my comfort zone.
Reaching Kochi was a very happy feeling.
WHAT DID I LEARN? Patience and determination. It gets over the time you quit.
DAY 5: Kochi
Spending a day at Kochi was fun. This is the 2nd time i visited Kochi and even this time i felt very comfortable. For me Kochi has some vibe which really love and haven't found it in any other city. As an individual i always love a city with a beach. I feel it keeps you calm and creative. Kochi on the other hand, not only has a beach but beautiful waterways within the city. It is a pure bliss to go over the bridges and see the reflection of the city on the water!
Met an old friend at Kochi after 15 years. We brought out the baba mode of each of us. Also, it is always fun to beat people at air hockey, make fun of them, make a video and post the video on public platform. In short, being Ishan Sharma.
Meeting Anita Moncia Roy was the first familiar face i saw every since i left Bangalore.
WHAT DID I LEARN? I am not that bad at Air Hockey and that human connection is a beautiful thing, it transcends things like region, society, religion etc
CONTRAST BETWEEN EAST COAST AND WEST COAST
For starters, both the east coast and the west coast are uncomparable. They offer their own charm. For instance, the east coast offered amazing Sambar where on the west coast, the smell of food being prepared in coconut oil made me hungry. The eastern coast had amazing roads and hardly any traffic and barren lands where as the western coast had views you might remember but traffic as well which you might not be able to forget. The west coast was hot where as the east coast was cooler, with rains.
DAY 6: Kochi to Kotagiri or Coimbatore or Bangalore? 280 Kms, 8 Hours
This day as i was doing my regular task of tying my rucksack to my bike, one of the people that i stayed with came up to me and asked:
"Curious Guy: Where are you off to?"
"Me: I am not sure (with a confused look)"
"Curious Guy: You are not sure where you are going?"
"Me: Well i know i have to head north west. So i might either go to Kotagiri where i have a friend or coimbatore or maybe Bangalore if i want to end the trip. Let’s see where the day takes me."
"Curious Guy: Wow"
As curious guy said 'Wow' he looked really impressed. I then realised the younger version of me would have thought the same when he would have heard that someone is travelling free spirited, will go wherever he goes, will stop wherever he wants and eats whatever he feels. The present version of me thinks this is over hyped! It is just a perception or the grass being greener on the otherside situation. Out of the 3 things required for survival food, water and shelter, all 3 of them being uncertain, how can that be cool? I guess a lot of people haven’t been in the situation of any 1 of them being under threat.
Over all this day offered a pleasant journey. The roads looked very welcoming. Very peaceful and the weather was decent. By this time i was enjoying the new confidence i earned for riding a bike on any terrain.
Any terrain is what i thought till i reached the mountains of Kotegiri. It was cold! So cool. The weather during my entire travel was like a dramatic bollywood movie. Luckily i was well prepared. Negotiated my way to the top of the mountains and met my friend who i mentioned earlier, Salwat Hamrah (well, who else right?)
Touchdown, Salwat Hamrah.
WHAT DID I LEARN? The best views come after the hardest climbs. I rode with the confidence of a king after 5 days of continuous riding.
Day 7: Kotegiri to Secret Place X, Can't Tell Kms, Can't Tell Hours
Well this day was amazing but i am under Get Beyond Limits oath so can't talk about it. Get Beyond Limits confidential stuff but i am allowed to share the highlights in pictures for sure.
Get Beyond Limits is coming up with a couple of more surprises, this i can tell you as well.
WHAT DID I LEARN? Can’t tell you
Day 8: Secret Place x to Get Beyond Limits HQ, Can't Tell Kms, 11 Hours
As the sun rose, my body was still confused about which climate to adjust to and i ended up having a running nose. Nonetheless, after travelling to one more city (Get Beyond Limits confidential) we started our return journey. I knew that my tolerance towards riding for so long and so many other things because of this has increased in life.
All was smooth till me and Salwat Sir decided to literally take the road less travelled.
There was actually no one else on the road which was fun till it started raining, me and Salwat Sir split up and it got dark. There were instances when it got really spooky. To add to that, because of the rain, the hot roads gave out fog/mist/smoke. It was really beautiful to pass though it and even scary for a lot of kilometers. Imagine being on a road with no one ahead or behind you, pitch dark and smoke coming out of the road and weird unidentifiable structures next to the road. Again, i thought that all my actions around the ghost story sessions have come back to take revenge but overall it was superfun.
As the journey was about to end, i realised that i had made friends with the road, the sign boards, the divider, mutual coordination for overtaking, sadly the high beam and the speed breakers. I was getting sad that no matter how extreme the journey got, no matter how much i had to ride in one stretch, it was getting over.
As i reached home i felt the additional love i developed for Hodor. My trusty Avenger 220 CC Street which was so comfortable to ride. I could feel being mentally and physically strong. I knew that stepping out of my comfort zone has rewarded me handsomely in ways i still can’t put a finger on.
I knew that i came back with life long memories.
REFLECTION AFTER SPENDING A DAY IN THE CITY
- The process of finding food, water and shelter with money and free spirit was a lot better than being in the city with food, water and shelter already set up and finding money.
- Looking back at the entire journey, it was very comfortable for me to come up with this idea. Comfortable for me to process 2000+ kms solo, 3 oceans, sun rising from one coast and setting into the other. Riding for 12 hours straight. Normal for me to just live out of a bag, not knowing where i might be, what i might eat and where i might sleep.
- What does all this make me? My birthday celebration did not lead to any introspection at the oceans but an understanding that if you are at peace, mid life crises don't matter. But the entire trip now makes me wonder about my choices, the confidence to pursue these decisions. What does this make me again? Some one crazy, some one directionless or someone passionate and courageous. Who's to say. All i know is that if you don't do things you haven't done before, you will never feel the way you have felt before.
Who knows what turns a life can take? Who knows what you can find as you travel and live your life. Sometimes the road is bad and sometimes it's exactly how you imagined it, what you choose to do, defines you, describes you and makes you whole. Isn't this what life is? Isn't this what makes us who we are?
If you are planning something similar or want some inputs or want some of the sea shells i picked up at secret beach (part 1) then feel free to reach me on firstname.lastname@example.org or 7795274528.
PS: No matter where you go, always wear a helmet. It is just a matter of that one moment of distraction which can change everything. Safety first.
Luckily everyone survived.