small pond outside Nal Sarovar

Birds of a feather…

Suddenly I got up with a start and felt like somebody was calling me from somewhere afar. The clock showed 7am! I was really late. Should I call Bhavin back or would I be disturbing the team? With so many such thoughts and the right frame of mind to be admonished I called only to be told by my cheerful friend that they will wait outside and were only half way through.

road to the sanctuary is under repairs. be careful, ride slowly and wear helmet.

And to think that I had planned everything. Like each time, we had planned everything. We were to start the ride at 5:30am next day. We had checked our bikes’ tyres, brakes, etc.

I, for my part, had like always planned everything for the next day’s ride. I had polished my watch, flattened my wallet (removed irrelevant things), kept phone on charge, set the alarm, etc, and kept all these things on the tea poy.

On top of that, I took to the bed as soon as I could after office so that I could get up early. But like all best laid plans, this too went kaput.

I cursed myself for not getting off the bed when I first woke up — at 4am. At that time, I had felt I could rest my eyes 30 winks more.

When I began dressing, came another call — this time, it was Saurin. He too was late. That cheered me up. I had company.

I had always wanted to take my kid along with me on at least some rides if not all. So, I asked my seven-year-old whether he would like to accompany and he readily agreed. It is unusual for me to ask him and it is even rarer that his mom agrees to his outing in a winter morning. But the season was withdrawing its grip and nowadays, 7am isn’t that chilly.

So, after meeting at the Bopal crossroads, Saurin and I began. En route, Saurin got a call that the others were waiting outside the sanctuary.

I was busy enjoying the ride and a song — Deep Purple’s Smoke On The Water — to go with it. As such, I don’t like rock but maybe the weather, the motorcycle and the route made me a fan of this particular song. I tried to like their other numbers but to no avail

entire route after Sanand was lined up with trees — banyan and others, maybe the reason behind the ‘mitthi ki khusboo

While the ride was uneventful, I couldn’t keep my eyes on the road for long. On the way, my eyes wandered across the beautiful surroundings and the smell. Both sides of the road were flanked with various types of trees, including my favourites — banyans (they inspire me and each time I look at them, I am reminded of a wise, old and stable man).

And, after a while, it was almost like we were in some other country. The fields, in patches of yellow and green made the place look like some English country side.

And the smell that most of us treasure, especially in Gujarat, was unmistakingly ‘mitthi ki khusboo’. Thankfully, there were no clouds, because if my kid got wet, I would get an earful from my wife.

After half-an-hour or so, we saw the Nal Sarovar board but we didn’ couldn’t locate our gang. Just as Saurin thought that we lost them again, I told him that I saw a group of Bullets moving further towards the lake entry. So, we kicked our Bulls to life and at a distance of ½km found them — Abhirup with a new girl, Bhavin, Joydeep, Manish. A new couple were also there and were on a Thunderbird.

a brief halt after deciding against taking the “guided ride”

We were sure that we didn’t want to keep our precious beasts outside. That is when a local guide informed us that we couldn’t take them inside. On top of that, he said that the charge per person would be ₹300 (we could use that money on something else). So, it was decided — that neither did we want to keep our Bulls outside, nor did we want to be taken for a “ride” (Around ₹1,700 for the whole group, of nine-and-a-half might have been a fair deal).

We will make our own way on our beasts and see what we can do. But that was easier said than done, we were to realize soon.

Abhi flying dust in someone’s face

We started on our Enfields and after a while had second thoughts about our decision. The mud which was loose kept us restricted to the first gear. We had to keep our legs on the ground so that we didn’t lose balance.

After ½km or so, we stopped. Bhavin said, “okay, let us keep our motorcycles here and walk a bit.” After exploring the turf, Bhavin, Manish and I returned to our bulls, straddled them and made our way through the loose sand. I am not exaggerating when I say, it was an awesome experience and at that same time it was frightening and challenging.

After reaching a place that looked like a bank, we rested our selves for sometime. The bank had a window type of clearing from between long grass-like shoots. After sometime, we decided it was time to return.

the return trip, which otherwise would hvae been uneventful, took a sober turn with Abhi getting bit by a bee. instant desi application — gobbar — was applied to his arms

The return trip was as such uneventful except for Abhirup getting stung by a bee. He got first-aid in the form of gobbar (cow dung) from a beautiful local lady.