Written by Bhavana –
Don’t take me amiss. When I register for a CTC trek, I know there are surprises in the offing—surprises that will make you twinge and shift uncomfortably inside, peck and uncover shadows that you are unwilling to confront. But I am also a control-freak and so I like to predict those surprises. Like a frantic futures trader, I diagnose and plan for these surprises.
I did the same for this trip—Nagari into Wild, Dec 10-11. So I imagined that we would park the bikes in some crazy place from where we would have to launch on a night trek to reach our campsite. Or perhaps an unending ride on rural roads through the night—a real pain in the ass!
And like the great Wall Street collapse, I also failed in my diagnosis and forecast. Who could have imagined that we would literally climb the Nagari on the bike! Who would have thought that when Peter called it “Nagari into Wild,” he meant it! Frankly, for several confused moments I could not believe what we were doing. Surely roads would appear and we would park and hike up. But they never did. They never did.
I remember the guys planting their mean machines in a row for a photo shoot on the Pichatur dam (this was before they realized what the trek was about). I had smiled then, amused—aah, guys and their toys!!! I remember listening with a slight smirk Sudhagar explaining the difference in the sound of Bullet with aluminium vs that of steel engine. I confess, at the end of the day, I am a fan of those toys. For the numero uno heroes of this trek are these mean machines—the Bullets, the Honda, the Thunderbirds, the Yamaha, the Unicorn, the Avenger and yes, Sasti Kumar’s brand-new Classic 500.
I also have learnt to listen to their sounds—the stirring of the giant into wakefulness, the panting, snapping, growling, and the roaring of the King Kong as he gets on his feet, the unchaining of spirit—earth trembling as the machines make their way to the temple of Shiva—interestingly, perhaps one of the most masculine gods in the Hindu pantheon—over the threatening mountain rocks, the tyre-sucking leechy mud-roads, the deceptive slimy pebbled-beds of mountain streams, through the water that resists, through the mountain that laughs and watches in amusement—these machines pound their way up to where the moon peeks over the crest, to where water falls in sweet grace, to where air settles into the hammock of silence, and disappears into an utterly feminine night of tranquillity and peace.
Man and his machine—it is indeed a very strange encounter and a bonding that I can only understand from a distance. A bike falls, a rock thrashes, metal clangs—the rider suffers. The tyre, the silencer, the sidelight, the front mirror, the engine, the friend…the dear friend in pain. “If they could have spoken, they would have complained.” “I need to show love for what I have put her through.” In this eerie encounter of the living and the non-living on an eclipsing night, at some level one crosses into the twilight zone and discovers a pulsating consciousness in all—the rider, his machine, and the environment he rides in.
And in this complete world, the pillion sits uncomfortably, like a puzzle piece stranded. Unable to help, one wonders what role to play? Sit quietly, without moving to ensure balance? Or perhaps, plant my feet on the ground when the bike seems to slip? Or perhaps, simply breathe, relax and think positive thoughts hoping that the energy may help the creatures ahead? Or pretend I am Princess Mononoke on the great journey ahead!
I do not know. But this I do—as I watched bike after bike cross those slippery mountain streams, thrashing, crashing through the water, adamantly surging on; the guys standing on the side, arms and feet flexed ready to wade in to help the bike through; the photographers poised and curved to take the next unforgettable shot; the green umbrella of the mountainside cups an extraordinary scene below, of a bonding extraordinaire, of an engagement of human mind and body with machine and nature, syncretising all into a ritual that is so particularly that of CTC —I am glad I had the VIP seating to witness this extraordinary event unfold in the heart of Nagari.
And in the pools and lakes of Nagari and Pichatur, where the division between riders and pillions falls, in the uncertain depths of the water, among those sure and unsure, I sink and smile. Role does not matter. Experience does!
Gratitude to all for this experience.
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