For most of us, taking risks and feeling the heat of the raw countryside is not something we are used to; at least not in our sheltered suburban lives. Even when we explore the rural wilds during weekends, we do so in the safe confines of cars. Ever felt exhilaration of the wind on your face, the heat at your back and the road right below you? Throw away the idea of cars and get behind them edgy motorcycles zipping down fast lanes!
Or so I felt on being able to explore the highway on motorcycles for an entire day. This was one such trip of what was later known as our Power Trips. My first enthusiasm (of feeling the wind in my hair) was quickly drowned on donning the ghastliest (but agreeably safest) accessory, THE HELMET. Well, I still had the streets below my feet….didn’t I?……well, not entirely.
Thus we started early morning (3:00 am guys!!!) on a spring Sunday, when even the street dogs were asleep. Yawning and stumbling over each other we pulled on jackets, helmets and shoes and sat pillion on motorcycles. Three motorcycles sped down the deserted roads of Delhi towards Noida. The streets were deserted and dark beneath our feet. No holes, puddles and bumpers visible to us.
From the headlight of the motorcycle I was riding on, I could only make out the words “I don’t drive fast, I fly slow” just below the red tail light of the motorcycle ahead of us. Drowsy as I was, I continued to stare at the quote, not quite getting at the meaning of it. Suddenly, the tail light was up in the air. Dreaming, I thought to myself, and forgot about it. Suddenly our motorcycle jerked up slightly. I admit I was not holding on for support, and thus went flying in the air…..and back down on my seat with a jerk. It knocked the daylights out of me and I was awake then on…..(LOL :P) Yeah, yeah, thanks to the super skilled rider of the motorcycle I was on (who still continues to be my rider, but that’s another story). Soon we realized we’d hit a bump that we missed seeing on the road, all thanks to the guy ‘FLYING SLOW’….Grrrrrr….@#$%^.
Anyhow, we carried on the short route to NOIDA where we were met by two other motorcycles (and what motorcycles they were! J). 10 people at the back of 5 of India’s most sought after motorcycles, we felt like the lords of the streets.
So we were off before the sun touched Delhi. Meandering and exploring our way out of the city via the dusty, unconstructed roads (back then) of Badarpur, we reached the outskirts by the time morning dawned on Delhi. Looking back at the city, its hectic schedules, crazy deadlines and lousy work, we looked forward to the laidback mood of the countryside. And what a trip it was!! From the crisp morning wind, to the sticky sweet elaichi chai of roadside dhabas to the scorch of the noon sun until voila! We reached AGRA. And what a grand entrance to the city, via the Sikandra tomb!! Splendor at its best, it was the Mughal city after all.
Then traffic struck! Like nothing had. Somehow maneuvering our way through the cars, motormotorcycles, autos and even bullock carts, we made it past the city and drove through the streets. Man! What a ride that one was, with the red fort of Agra on one side and the Yamuna on the other. Going a further distance, you could see the dome of the Taj Mahal, on the other side of the Yamuna. It felt like going back in history to the Mughal times……on motorcycles (:P IF EVER THAT WAS POSSIBLE!! :D).
At this juncture, it would be prudent to point out that the streets of Agra are actually a mess. And that is not only because of the reckless traffic. The roads are pot-holed and uneven and the marketplaces are…..well, just too hard to get out of! But once the bustling marketplace is left behind, roads become smoother and much easier. Surrounding the heritage sites were streets that were a pleasure to drive on……….BUT, the greatest heritage site was still a significant walk ahead….and yes! I DID SAY WALK!!