A weekend not in vain


What would require more courage – standing in front of a bike speeding at 60 kmph, almost certain that the driver is not going to slow down, yet making all efforts to have him stop a few inches from you, with slim chances of escaping unhurt, or bearing down on a chain of people blocking the road, tightening your grip on the throttle to rush more fuel and air into the engine, trying to honk the imminent danger into the listener’s head, knowing fully well that if no one gives way, you would be involved in a bad accident, 75 km from home, and at least half that distance from good medical facilities, at the mercy of people you have injured on purpose?

Or maybe, you’d need more courage to be sitting pillion on such a bike, screaming at the rider to give in, having absolutely no control on the situation, praying fervently that you escape unscathed, logic pointing out that there was hardly a chance of that happening.

It wasn’t a hypothetical question yesterday.

Luckily, the guys blocking the road moved out at the last instant, and I rode ahead, leaving behind their pitched screams

They were probably collecting money for something; we did not stop to check.

Our companions, on two bikes, waited further ahead. They too managed to speed their way out of trouble, and with a ‘What’s with those people?’ we started off on an uneventful journey back.

Bike trips are tough to sell to people, they see no fun in sitting on a bike the whole day, concentrating on the road, getting jolted on every pothole and riding to areas where if anything goes wrong, the only way out would be to push a 115 kg mass on two wheels for miles with a prayer that you’d find some shop to fix it, and that you get finally get home. Try telling them about the joys of navigating the vast network of roads, a sense of peace that you are far, far away from what irks you daily – monotony, feeling free and realizing that life is to be lived this way, not squandered stooping over code all the time, and they snort in derision.

Thankfully, there are enough people to be convinced about trying things out during the weekends, and six of us managed to get together to bike out of Bangalore.

It was 7:30 AM in the morning. The target was one of the numerous waterfalls that the Cauvery traverses on her path to the sea – Chunchi falls. After a quick thumbs-up we set out, legs dancing on the gears and brakes, arms wringing the throttle, faces aglow with excitement, and eyes smarting with Bangalore’s dust.

Many sneezes later, we were finally out where the air was clearer, and roads devoid of the usual traffic, rushing towards Chunchi falls.

Having seen many of the falls where Cauvery lets herself down, I found Chunchi to be a place where she does so rather gracefully, unlike a few miles ahead, where she roars through Mekedatu. The scenery was marred only by the constant influx of visitors, but there was nothing to be done about that, and after a while at the falls, we went out clambering on the rocks that surround it. A small machan situated at a vantage point became our retreat, and the bread and biscuits we brought along, our brunch. After having our fill of the scenery, we set out back for home.

As it so often happens in these trips, it is something totally unplanned that becomes the highlight. A small board on the way back read ‘Arkavathy dam – 5 km’ and pointed to a stretch of tar not along our way. With nothing to lose, and time to kill, we followed it’s directions and came up to the dam.

It was a series of first-evers for me. The first ever time I rode on top of a dam. The first ever time I lay on the pillars supporting a dam and gazed down at a 22 metre drop into 6 m deep waters. The first ever time I walked along a ledge with the same drop on one side, the other side spiked with huge rocks below. The first time I saw kids fish from these very heights, casting their hooks was down into the water. And the first time I saw lush grass on the side of a dam, flopped down on it, and dozed off with the distant rumble of water gushing below, only to be awakened by gentle showers by a passing cloud.

But it was not just that. The dam had the charm that all small places unsullied by thronging visitors have. We walked down to the water’s edge and competed skimming stones on the surface, having only the semi-submerged coconut trees as spectators and enjoyed fooling around.

Reading the clouds’ intentions to add to the reservoir’s contents, we made our way back, deciding we’d get back later someday.

There will be many months before that someday, as there are yet many places that I’ve not been to, and much water will flow under the dam. But, yes, there definitely will be that someday sometime.


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