25th October 2014 – Kanpur, India
Cliched as it may sound, India is made up of shopkeepers.Selling everything from bangles to basmati, pepsi to ghee.The road has no dearth of them, they are in every nook and corner.I forget what I buy, but I am thankful for their joyous company.
But, I didn’t get a good headstart today. I woke up early, but the hotel manager was missing, and I had to wait till 10 AM to settle my bill. And I knew that there was no way I could make the 500 KM stretch before dark. So, I had to find a midpoint somewhere for the night. So, I rode to a little known city called Kanpur, which has nothing of touristic value, but promised a few cheap rooms for me to spend the night.
Apu, from Simpsons, may have made the Indian shopkeeper a touch stereotyped, but I can’t thank them enough for days like this. This was another long and lonely road stretch, and the only think that kept me occupied were the small shops spread throughout the stretch. I stopped at these shops, got myself a cigarette or something to drink, and had a little chat with the shopkeeper. The people here spoke Hindi, but in a Khariboli dialect, which is a very rough and course method of communication. Kind of like comparing Columbian Spanish to the Mexican version. If you understand Hindi, and are curious to know what the Khariboli dialect is, you can click here.
In one of these shops, I met the man in the picture about. We spoke about our mutual adoration for the bullet (the royal enfield motorbike), and how he had rode his bullet around Uttar Pradesh when he was younger. He still rode one, he said, but the vintage 1977 model was lacking in spare parts and not fully conditional anymore. He requested me to come to his home and take a look at the bike, but I had to refuse because I was running short of sunlight and time.
They say that everybody loves an Enfield in India. Must be true.