– Excerpts from Ritam Shome
At the very outset let me be blunt here, the biker with whom I tagged along is an extremely versatile rider aka Rushi. At 5 ft 7 inches wearing the correct biker jacket and also biker pants with the right shoes, he looks a person straight out of a bike race ready to take on the world.
The Amby valley trip was planned in our office and we were informed that there would be a bus which would be frisking us away like potatoes and cabbages. Although, the thought of a bus did not sound really much appealing, but the prospect of visiting a prodigious place like Amby Valley seemed too good to just pass on.
Imagine the surprise when a Biker friend of mine asked if I would be happy riding as a pillion rider with him to Amby valley. I have my reservations of a bike ride especially in long distances, but seeing the glint in his eyes and the aspect of being mobile and free in the entire scenic route, I jumped at the offer.
Day 1 – The Trip
Initial negotiations were done with respect to the clothes to be taken and the amount of luggage to be carried in the bag as there was a bag for each of us. The agreed meeting point was near Jahangir Hospital from where the trip would start. I reached at 7:25 am a bit early and after a short wait saw Rushi heading there. We had a short chat and I was informed of a few basics which I was never really aware of. “Buddy, ensure that your helmet is always on, if you are uncomfortable please tape me tap twice on the right shoulder which could be any reason altogether as I will be focused ahead!!”. I gulped in the basic instructions which were passed on to me trying to make sure that I got it correctly, repeating the same silently to myself. People were all stares for the guy wearing the heavy biking clothing but in their eyes was admiration which was more than what any biker can ask for.
“Vrooom”, and the trip started. We sped along and I observed that he was very much aware of the road rules with due respect at all the traffic junctions. “Hmm, a religiously faithful person of the rules which were set”, and somehow we started leaving Pune within a span of few moments. No speeding or road rage, but just pure biking. A sustained speed around 80 kmph to ensure the safest way to the place avoiding all the potholes and bumps. Once out of Pune, he was chatting something to me which I had a hard way of hearing but I could make out that he was pointing out the various places which we crossed and it felt great to absorb it all like a tourist. Even after staying in the city for 3 yrs the city always does always spring surprises.
After riding close to forty minutes he stopped somewhere near a dhaba. The scene in the dhaba was great with so many glares and stares and we quietly found a corner to sit and relax. Here, both of us tried the new Andriod app that Rushi suggested.
Rushi -“Dude, this app helps us communicate with each other while riding so that we can both interact from inside our helmets and the air should not have any interference as it’s a hotspot created within the bike”.
I : “Wow, let us get this to work via the server client technology”
Post few trials and errors we were able to communicate with each other and yeah the Poha and Tea were delicious. A young kid was collecting the plates and he flashed a smile to both of us and added, were we talking in English? I added yes, and he stated that he had very less of the language and looked very content to hearing us speak, while the other tables carried on their daily charade. We chatted about the poor kid and his aspect of learning English and being in school and Sighed!! We have so many young kids like him who are stuck in the wrong end of the road, but Rushi gave an insight here. “Look into it from this perspective, by the time he reaches our age, he will have an aggressive understanding of life and will perhaps be far ahead in life as he is seeing the hardships at a young tender age”. I felt empty as we could do nothing about this, said a pleasant “Thank you” to him. The smile which was generated was a real innocent smile which made me feel good.
We started ahead and this time we reached the highways and were seamlessly chatting via the app and it was engaging. Technology really has created as well as broken boundaries. Soon the scene changed and the landscape changed from the buildings to greenery, the fresh air hit us as we gushed in more of it. Like a ghost rider, the bike whizzed past all traffic and made its way on its own. Bike and man were one and there was nothing for a pillion Rider to do, but capture a few moments of it every time we turned on a hill.
Soon, we approached “Lonavala Lake”. There were a few tourists who were clicking pictures and we did the same of the bike, Rushi the biker and myself as well. The water level was low, but that did not turn up to be a dampener on our enthusiasm. We left the place and I was happy to have seen a new place outside the city.
Within minutes we were approaching Bhushi Dam to which Rushi asked if I was interested to see it. “Why not? “ . He parked his bike in a pay-n-park and we walked our way ahead. It’s like a small version of a mini trek, I being a good trekker was happy with the prospect of seeing it. However, it was an extremely small climb where civilization had eroded the natural beauty of the place in patches. The steps were wet to reach the dam, but both of us managed somehow as one slip could hurt us bad. On reaching the top of the dam, I clicked a few pictures and Rushi climbed down. He added that many people had drowned in the dam so swimming was a huge risk. I kept clicking pictures and also asked one person to take a few pictures of myself too. Climbing down was not much of a deal as gravity takes its effect and you feel good climbing down 🙂 . Upon reaching the parking place, Rushi asked “Where is your helmet?” “OH Shit!!” I asked him to wait and hurried my way ahead to the top again. The heat during midday was taking a toll on myself, but this time I knew the way around like my hand and cajoled a cute girl tourist at the top to bring my helmet down which was still there. Lucky I thought to myself as it was a colleagues (Sunil’s) and I had no wish to hear remarks for a silly inadvertent fault.
We started ahead for Lonavala. The hill station is lovely giving you the feel of a small town and chikki shops dominating everything there. We found a fellow rider asking for directions to which Rushi obliged. We soon started our way climbing up leaving the hill station behind. The roads became more scenic and the wind was cold now cooling all the perspiration and sweat generated. At one point many bikes and vehicles were parked. He asked we should check out the place. “Lion’s Point”!! It was a point through which one can have a bird’s eye view of the city and have some surreal pictures taken. We enjoyed the place and pictures were taken at free will. Hawkers tried to bug us to do some activity, but were gently declined.
We started on our way ahead to Amby valley and two further points came up, but we did not stop. It was midday already and our mind was made up to reach our destination. “Amby Valley!!! Wherefort art thou?”
The climb-up the hill were steep, so steep in fact that cars and other four wheelers were having difficulty negotiating their gears. I was stunned to see it was very well negotiated by Rushi and he ensured the climb continued without any jerks or breaks present. Once on top of the hills, we came across a place where dense forest and trees engulfed the road which was straight one now. Rushi stopped and we had water to replenish us. Some extraordinary pictures were taken I believe in this place as the sun light played with the leaves and the green hue gave the best backdrop to his red jacket and bike.
A few bikers crossed and it seemed that they had a mind of their own. With the pittstop over we headed to our destination. Soon, we reached Amby Valley and security was checking our IDs and asked our details. I quietly told Rushi, he was the best rider I was pillion too.