Jaisalmer republic

This story is picked up from one of my good friend Hirak’s Archive. Writting style of Da always inspires me.
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“Heads turned as the headlights went on and a German couple exclaimed, ‘ah, its a Royal Enfield’!”
It happened in a jiffy. As I planned, there were nearly 4 riders to accompany me to Jaisalmer for the long Republic Day weekend this year. On the D-day at 4.30am in the morning I waited near Radisson. Soon it was 5.30am and still nobody in sight. The police checking was so bothering that day but I guess it was for our own safety. At 6.00 am, I knew, it was time for ‘ekla chalo re’. Driving slowly in the winter chill, I went ahead anticipating someone would catch up. That was not to happen. The sun was bright, its rays kissed me and my Amigo, but that brightness meant nothing after the speedometer crossed just 50. I knew enough was enough and Amigo started a hearty chat with the winds after Neemrana. At 10.45am, I was nearing Ajmer, breakfast and tea inside my belly. Driving is a pleasure when you are your own boss. And boy, I was elated at luck. My first ride of 2006, that too a solo, for four whole days, was an awesome feeling. I left NH-8 at Beawar and was on NH-14 for only 26 kms before setting on the State highway at Bar. Surprisingly, the SH was a fine road and it didn’t take me long to breeze through inside Jodhpur at 6.00pm. Ah, the magnificent, majestic Mehranagarh fort was a marvel to watch as the skies turned golden when the sun bid me and Jodhpur adieu for the day. I decided to explore the city by night and boy, India has some nightlife! Unfortunately everything was closed all around, except some good local eateries and my eyelids. I knew I had to get on moving to my destination really early to see the sunset at Sam Dunes of Jaisalmer the next day. After loitering around with Amigo upto 1am in the night, I was inside the cozy comfort of my bed. Surprisingly I was up by 5am but it was still very dark. I ordered tea and when it arrived I went to my hotel balcony and knew it was going to be very cold ride indeed. This feeling reminded me of what my dear friend Pritam Shitoot told me once, ‘Kya Sir, the Ladakhi chill couldn’t down you and you are feeling cold here in Rajasthan?’ I smiled. Sometimes words spoken in history can be so inspiring, comforting and touching. I decided to wait till 6am and took a quick hot shower. What better luxury a biker can ask for on the road? My journey towards Jaisalmer made me wonder how beautiful and diverse India is. I have been to so many places, and I have so many things to see, still nothing connects like being an Indian. How quickly the food changed, terrain changed, the appearances and the clothes changed, the ‘pagdis’ changed, could see gazels running amok in the middle of the road, and their territory shared by ‘junglee’ camels. The greens were finally disappearing, as the land turned golden in color. Soon I was in Pokhran. I don’t have words to describe how the patriotic sense overwhelmed me at that point. I saw army guys training, tanks running all around in training and military border flag marches told me I was nearing Jaisalmer. My phone rang and suddenly it was my friend Jitender, Station Engineer of the All India Radio Jaisalmer, “Kahan Ho?” he asked. I told him I was not very far away and that his sweet from Jodhpur – the famous Janta Sweet mithi kachoris and many other stuffs were safely in my custody. When I finished talking, there was this soldier on the highway standing by my side. It was a pleasure to drop him to his barracks. He offered me tea, but I excused (oh! such a waste of an opportunity) but I had the Sam Dunes and the sunset in my head. 2.30pm I was inside the AIR station, Jaisalmer. Suddenly there was this producer who was awestruck that I was doing solo and when he heard it was something that it was my passion, guess what came to me on the platter? A 30-minute interview on the occasion of Republic Day! Amigo was proud too, as children outside the station boarded it, jumped from it, and discussed vehemently the power of a Bullet. Later, after a quick lunch I was heading towards the Sam dunes and believe me, it was all so very worth it. Every drop of fuel spent, every drop of sweat, every breath jumped while riding, all were worth it as the sand slowly turned golden and then it was the turn of the skies to change color; fire up for a while, mesmerizing me and Jitendra. ‘Do you come here regularly?’ I queried. ‘Nope, don’t get much time bro, you will know how things are once you are married’ and smiled. Some people are just plain unlucky I guess. The sunset saw hordes of big, swanky imported cars and Sumos and Qualis zip their way towards the city but what stole the show was the thunder of Amigo. Heads turned as the headlights went on and a German couple exclaimed, ‘ah, its a Royal Enfield’! The next morning I headed towards the Pak border but I was asked to go back since I didn’t have permits. As I drove back towards the city, I received a surprise call from Shekhar Patil, a good friend and a travelling partner, saying that he was already in Jodhpur and heading back towards Delhi via Bikaner. I told him that we could have some drinks and dinner at Bikaner, it’s a date! I bid adieu to my friend Jitender and his lovely cute babycake daughter, promised her a 100 times because she extracted it from me that I would be back soon, and then headed towards Bikaner as a sandstorm gathered momentum and even shook my bike. The storm was cutting the highway. I prayed for safety, but wanted to see the sandstorm because I have never seen one, but Mother Nature’s generosity eluded me here. I caught up with Shekhar midway and then we headed towards Bikaner and checked into the YHAI-affiliated guesthouse. With only two guests there that day, that too Bulleteers, the owner, a lanky youth with royal lineage, made a bonfire for us as we opened our vodkas and had dinner around it and chatted on. What is a sand dune all about? Who better than Mohammed, our guide, could narrate and explaine so critically? We loitered deep inside the Bikaneri sand dunes with our guide and took lots of photographs, of villagers, their flock, the gazels and of course, our bikes in the heart of the dunes! We hit the highway after an hour, thanked and paid our guide and headed towards Shekhawati – the land of mesmerizing havelis. Story has it that when business was down many years ago, the Marwaris of this area left their families here and went to Mumbai and Gujarat to establish themselves. They earned a lot there, and a better part of the fortune was sent back to Shekhawati, where the families built exquisite and exotic havelis. The Birlas, the Goenkas all have their havelis here, but the area is facing monumental neglect and I hate our system to be so callous towards our national heritage. We left for Delhi after spending about an hour and a half in the Shekhawati region. When we crossed the Delhi border, it was well over 11pm in the night and the only other thing that bothered me at that hour was the call of the cubicle next day! Believe me guys, Jaisalmer on bike is ‘jadoo’! Do it! I am even contemplating my honeymoon there (on bike). You will never want to miss it.

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