8th October 2014 – Ahmedabad, India
The exclusive road refused to take me, but I prevailed.There is google, there is GPS. With those, I can always make do.And then in a city where the humans lived like rabbits,The spiderweb is a welcome respite. I’ll take it, thank you.
I was supposed to ride to a little known historical town in Gujarat, called Champaner, today. About 200 KMs away from Surat, this gave me a good 350 KM to Udaipur in Rajasthan after the Champaner episode was done. This also meant that I would be skipping Ahmedabad completely, going directly from Champaner to Udaipur.
The only glitch was, I started too early from Surat. By 10.30 AM, I was already in Baroda, from where Champaner is just 30 Kms away. And I was in such a good riding mood today, with a song in my head and fine weather on my face. So, I changed my plans. I would ride another 150 clicks to Ahmedabad, making my ride to Udaipur shorter by 100. The thing is, when you have a good day, use it to ride more.
This also allowed me to discover a small disadvantage of riding a motorbike in India. You see, there are plenty of advantages. I have never had to pay even a single road-toll all through my trip in India, because 2-wheelers are not required to pay road tolls in India. And a 2-wheeler allowed me to get out of mile-long traffic jams, which are pretty commonplace on some highways in India. And like other 2-wheelers, I don’t get bullied on the road much, because the strong Enfield thunderbird is capable of matching up with the cars on the highway, and sometimes even bully them back.
The disadvantage, which occurs only rarely, is that 2-wheelers are not allowed on some exclusive roads in India. I found this out for the first time in Mumbai, when I tried to get on the Worli-Bandra Sea link road, and was refused by cops. And I found it out today, when I tried to get on the NE1 (National Expressway 1), between Baroda and Ahmedabad. No go, I was told. Touche.
Anyway, reached Ahmedabad by afternoon to find one of the most bustling, crowded, and overpopulated cities on this trip so far. I know there are some interesting things to see here, but I am already contemplating on how I am going to ride through this mess of human bodies. It’s a good thing that Gujarat is a dry state, i.e, no alcohol. The only worse thing than a horde of heavily packed people moving around, is a horde of drunk packed people moving around.
Luckily, the hotel I found was in Old Ahmedabad, and was in just walking distance of the Siddi Sayid Mosque, which is famous for its spiderweb windows. This gave me a chance to rely on my legs, instead of my wheels, for today’s picture. I’ve decided to stay here an extra day, and figure out how to see the rest of the city without getting run over by some passing auto rickshaw.