The motorcycle diaries

27th November 2014 – Malda, India The road is sometimes a purgatory, where there exists a fine line Between experiencing heaven on earth, or malevolent hell. Today I was fooled. Into thinking that the day was blissful, and joyous. Minutes moved into blatant eons, and a tragedy had me in its wretched spell. I left Siliguri early in the morning today, and the plan was to ride as long as I could, to bridge the gap remaining to Kolkata, which was still 700 plus km away. This stretch of North Bengal is very pleasant to ride in, with its tea plantations and […]

Project 365: Day 149 – Tragedy strikes

Rinpung Dzong in Paro, Bhutan
26th November 2014 – Paro, Bhutan The cold had taken its toll, and I surrendered rather meekly. To the single digit temperatures of Bhutan, I said a silent good bye. But not before I meandered out to the side of a silent stream, And gazed my eyes on one last dzong. Neither afraid, nor shy. It has been nearly a month in the cold Himalayan regions for me, beginning with Nepal and then heading to Darjeeling in India, and now in Bhutan. And despite all the layers of clothing that I had on me, and all the Druk/Gorkha/Kingfisher beers that I was downing, […]

Project 365: Day 148 – I can’t take this cold anymore!

Paro, Bhutan
25th November 2014 – Paro, Bhutan The nest beckoned, and grudgingly, I acknowledged. Like a warrior with a target, I trudged ahead, Past prayer wheels, returning horses, and bewildering steeps, but when I finally reached a rip-off restaurant, my tracks stopped dead. So, last evening in Paro, I met an Aussie teacher who was living in Bhutan and working with the local school kids. And she took me to the Drukgyel Dzong, which is one of the oldest dzongs in Paro. A dzong is basically a fortress, and the Drukgyel Dzong was built in memory of a Bhutanese victory over a marauding […]

Project 365: Day 147 – The tiger’s nest. Almost.

Thimphu Bhutan
24th November 2014 – Thimphu, Bhutan The capital carried no charm, and a bronze statue, no interest. Maybe its the chilly November, but nothing could warm me up here. So, I rode out to another valley, hoping for respite and lower altitudes Turns out that the weather is persistent in Bhutan, both far and near. I know many people are dying to get to Thimphu, but I am so far unimpressed here. The capital bears a very lacklustre look, and does not carry a vibrant character to go along with it. Last night, I met a British traveller in my hotel, who has […]

Project 365: Day 146 – Prayer chants and preying cold

Thimphu Bhutan
23rd November 2014 – Thimphu, Bhutan The road curved and stretched again, for miles and hours, And at a crucial junction, I bit the bullet. I went weak, you could say. So, now I rode to the capital, that den of cute little kids with Kira and kho. And of men who played with huge bows and arrows all day. I left Tsimasham early in the morning today, braving the morning mist. I had to, because I knew that the ride was going to be long, with me stopping every 5 KM or so to warm up my hands. At a place called […]

Project 365: Day 145 – Let’s ride to the capital

Tshimasham Bhutan
22nd November 2014 – Tsimasham, Bhutan I first had a date today, with bureaucracy. It was all smiles though. And then I had a date, with some of the highest altitudes I have seen. This must be true love, because I am not even close to finishing I don’t even know where i am, but I am stopping while the view is still green. So, I had to wait till 11 AM today, doing nothing. If anything, I kept going back to the Indian side of the border, so that I can have another last cigarette. Oh, didn’t I tell you? Bhutan is the […]

Project 365: Day 144 – Little bit of Bureaucracy, little bit of bliss

21st November 2014 – Phuentsholing, Bhutan I had enough of google maps, and went with the local swell. They guided me through roads like baby’s bottom. Steep, but a safe bet. But I am my biggest nemesis, as the delay today had taught me. I was in the land of the thunder dragon. But wait, not completely yet. I don’t know what’s with me and border crossings! Everytime I have to cross one, I somehow end up crossing it late at night. It happened before in Nepal, and it happened again today. So, I should have left early in the morning today, […]

Project 365: Day 143 – Land of the thunder dragon!

Himalayan toy train in Darjeeling 2
20th November 2014 – Darjeeling, India After a day of frivolous drinking, and another of painful recovery, the step was back. Albeit surrounded by a still-heavy head. I hopped on a  train, and saw the beautiful himalayas roll by me. And regained my strength. Because it’s high time I moved ahead. The head eased a little better today, after the massive hangover, and nearly 30 hours of sleep yesterday. So, my friends booked the Darjeeling himalayan train, also called the toy train, for today morning at 8 AM. I was up from 6 itself, as I had slept over 30 hours yesterday. […]

Project 365: Day 142 – Finally, I took the train!

Himalayan railways, Darjeeling 3
19th November 2014 – Darjeeling, India There is nothing saintly about an old monk, as I would find out today. The body was left dehydrated, and the soul rushed to fly away. I was too weak to even get up or get going, and if not for a fleeting moment in a railway carriage, this whole project would have been at bay. Ah, the old monk from yesterday, killed me today! Seen the fancy new old monk bottle? Click here for one of my chief nemesis! I lost track of how much I was drinking. And also lost track of common sense, […]

Project 365: Day 141 – Hung. Over!

Darjeeling costumes 1
18th November 2014 – Darjeeling, India The railways await, but I am not ready for it. Not yet. You need friends to joy-ride a train together. I had a bike. So, I rode around town today, awaiting a host of people with rum, And hung around a people with costumes that were total bollywood lookalike. I was to take the toy train today, but was informed by a Brazilian friend of mine, who was in Sikkim, that she was coming down to Darjeeling to take the toy-train too. And 3 of her friends were coming too. So, I decided to hang on to the […]

Project 365: Day 140 – Looping around Batasia

Darjeeling himalayan railways 3
17th November 2014 – Darjeeling, India In the warm south, I was raised. And the north was a snow-covered dream. And now I find myself, toasting my coffee to the world’s tallest peaks. In a land, where people are fighting to make a different governance, A mesmerising railway train hoots its way through, amid joyous shrieks. My heart had skipped a beat yesterday, when I rode into Darjeeling in the cold. There was some political procession going on, by the local Gorkha groups. Darjeeling is often part of what is called Gorkhaland, a demand by the local Gorkha groups to get a […]

Project 365: Day 139 – In the land of the Gorkhas

Basantpur nepal bridge
16th November 2014 – Basantpur, Nepal I was ticked and teased first, only to return to torture later, And it wasn’t the roads of a neighbour, it was my own country. But I had lived to see another day, and breath another whiff, Of the chaotic air in my land, where I was born, and remain free. I expected the Terai torture to continue today as well. But it didn’t. Surprisingly, Nepal sent me off with amazing roads for the last 200 Kms of my journey. No hill, no bumps, cruising all the way. And with some good views too, like the […]

Project 365: Day 138 – Another day, another border.

lahan nepal terai 2
15th November 2014 – Lahan, Nepal A bad road, and a rider. The relationship reeks of sadomasochism. Where the gravel turns to burning wax on sulking skin, And the rocks grew nails, long enough to go deep enough. But every dungeon has a door. And a safe word, to end the sin. I finally decided to leave Bhaktapur today, and head out of Nepal. I was already illegally riding here from yesterday, since I couldn’t renew my riding permit. I don’t mind getting fined, but might as well reduce the daily fine by getting out as early as I can. So, I […]

Project 365: Day 137 – Tortured by the Terai

Bhaktapur Nepal
14th November 2014 – Bhaktapur, Nepal They sold pots, trinkets, momos and anything else that could be sold here. And they painted a colourful canvas against the russet streets of this place. But its not the vendors who stole the eye of this hopeless shutterbug, It was their children who ran away with megabytes of my storage space. Last evening, I had made 2 new friends. One was a French photographer, who was volunteering in Nepal. And another was an Israeli girl, who was making her first visit to Nepal. And she informed us that somebody had promised to take her to […]

Project 365: Day 136 – The vendors and their assistants

bhaktapur pottery square in Nepal
13th November 2014 – Bhaktapur, Nepal The black clay, like a distressed maiden, purred in the hands of the man, He treated her right, pressed all the right areas, and made a woman out of a girl. And like an unseen force, guiding the light to crawl its way through the buildings, From meaningless clay, he somehow managed to reinvent a forlorn pearl. I have been staying in Bhaktapur the last couple of days, but didn’t get a chance to explore it, thanks to a date with bureaucracy yesterday. I met an Israeli girl yesterday, with whom I made a plan to explore it […]

Project 365: Day 135 – Pottery, temples and a lot of bliss

Kathmandu darbar square in Nepal.
12th November 2014 – Kathmandu, Nepal Before the officials in white shirts, sent me shuffling from table to table, Before I gave up, and pursued my choice of becoming a rebel, Before all that craziness got to my head, sending it into puddled waters, There was a little boy, a flock of pigeons, and me. All in a temple spell.   I moved to Bhaktapur last evening, about 20 KMs from Kathmandu. Primarily, because I was tired of the crazy part of Thamel that I was living in. Bhaktapur is beautiful, but I have not had a chance to explore it yet. I rode back […]

Project 365: Day 134 – Thank god for the SAARC!

Patan Darbar Square in Kathmandu, Nepal.
11th November 2014 – Kathmandu, Nepal I dont trust too much when someone sells heritage to me, but if that someone is UNESCO, there must be something to the tale. I rode out to find a crafty little square, in the middle of a bustling city. With artefacts, temples, and cute little children, photogenic to the grandest scale.   I woke up very early in the morning today. Partly to drop one of my friends in the Kathmandu Tribhuvan airport, and then also to check out the morning frenzies at the Patan Darbar square. Darbar squares are a common occurrence throughout Central […]

Project 365: Day 133 – The first of many Darbars

Swayambhu monkey temple in Kathmandu, Nepal
10th November 2014 – Kathmandu, Nepal In a mountain, perched atop a city surrounded by mountains, There is a temple, buddhist at heart, but greets every saint and sinner. My camera grew restless here, and the shutter wouldn’t stop clicking. Between the monkey and the monk, the clouds were a clear winner. So, last night, I made one of my first mistakes in Nepal, notwithstanding the blotched Sarangkot trekking attempt. I choose to look for accommodation in Thamel, the backpacker district of Kathmandu. The only problem is, that Thamel is like Varanasi and Pushkar, with very narrow streets, and no place to park my […]

Project 365: Day 132 – Around an army of monkeys

Coffee in Pokhara, Nepal 3
9th November 2014 – Pokhara, Nepal There is an end to every trek, and to every long ride, they say. Mine doesn’t seem too near, as I keep egged on by warm smiles. Oxygen is a luxury that I seem to lack in Pokhara, but I don’t miss it much. I could live on coffee for eons to come. Or ride for unknown miles. It must be the thinner oxygen levels in the high altitudes of Nepal. I don’t know how else to explain my laziness ever since I have reached here. I am eating a lot, but seem to be always […]

Project 365: Day 131 – Riding on coffee to Kathmandu

Fewa lake in pokhara, Nepal.
8th November 2014 – Pokhara, Nepal After the beguiling excitement of a waterfall, and an expensive cave. After the sun said goodbye, and spread around its last few benevolent rays. There was just a boat. And the magnificent view of the lake cradling it. Reflections are a mind-numbing thing. They catch you off guard either ways. Since I had seen most of the touristy lakeside in Pokhara, I headed east today. Not before we visited a nice, little orphanage in central Pokhara. The Namaste foundation has been rescuing orphaned children for the last few years, and I heard of it from one of […]

Project 365: Day 130 – From lakeside, to the damside

7th November 2014 – Pokhara, Nepal I gave in finally, to the nudging and coercion from friends, too dear. To the slopes where the plains grew greener, and the clouds grew whiter. But a wrong turn makes a huge difference, even if the shutterbug loves it. Maybe we are not meant to meet. Sarangkot, and this impulsive hiker. I had 2 of my close friends from Singapore pay me a surprise visit yesterday. I wasn’t sure if they were coming to Nepal, but they did. And they even brought a surprise birthday cake, to compensate for the lonely birthday I had spent in Agra. […]

Project 365: Day 129 – Swinging by Sarangkot. Or maybe not.

The lake is a good distraction from the hiking options - Pokhara, Nepal 2
6th November 2014 – Pokhara, Nepal The hippies and hikers merged nonchalantly here. And toasted each other over some thukpas and pegs. But I am neither a hippie, and I can’t even hike out of my own home. I am told, that I am more efficient with 2 wheels than with 2 legs. I like Pokhara already. It has this sleepy, lazy touch to it, which appeals to me a lot. But there is one problem. I cannot stay here for more than a couple of days. That’s because Pokhara is a hiker’s town. It is the base for beginning treks to the Annapurna […]

Project 365: Day 128 – Beside the lakeside

Quite a ride it was today - Lumbini, Nepal
5th November 2014 – Lumbini, Nepal There were reflections to be seen, and cyclists to be gawked at, And those rickshaw drivers. Oh, those guys who never tire. I had to soak in all these sights, and more on the road, Before the rain sent chilled daggers into my soaked attire. I left Lumbini in the morning, towards Pokhara. Not before a lazy breakfast, and gawking at the reflections of the Buddha museum, and the rickshaw pullers etched against it. Turned out to be a mistake to waste that precious time. The distance from Lumbini to Pokhara was only 200 KM. But the […]

Project 365: Day 127 – Following the road to Pokhara

I am giving myself into the still life today - Lumbini, Nepal
4th November 2014 – Lumbini, Nepal Gluttony was the sin of the day, as I found lost proteins creeping back. Into a body that the roads had so mercilessly ravaged away. While my carb-goggles clouded my senses and decisions, The lotus and a reflection were the saving grace of the day. I realised today that I have been doing tired rides for the last few days. So, today was a day to sit back, and relax a bit. Lumbini may be a Buddhist place, but there are restaurants that serve meat and alcohol pretty much everywhere. The guesthouse that I stayed in had a […]

Project 365: Day 126 – Still as the water