Bullet Soldier – Kutta 2009

December 16, 2009

Kai landed in Bangalore from LA on a chilly December evening.  By 6 o’clock the next morning – his first morning ever in India – he was riding a Royal Enfield Thunderbird, a bike he had never ridden before, through Bangalore and out onto the Mysore Highway on roads he had most certainly never ridden before and which were possibly quite different from the German autobahns he’s used to. 

Kai and the seven other bikes were en route to Kutta, a tiny Coorg hamlet balanced precariously on the border of Kerala and Karnataka.  Not to be outdone by a newby from America, Kartik, a seasoned Road Veda rider, decided to part ways with his bike in mid-air just beyond the sugarcane kingdom of Mandya.  Like a true Bullet rider, he got himself stitched up and refused a lift in the support car or as pillion, resolutely continuing to ride bandages-and-all.    

The group was by now quite a spectacle – two white girls riding, one dachshund-beagle puppy (Kali) squeezed between two riders and one bandaged Kartik.  The scenery intensified as the road deteriorated, to the extent that even the pillions found it difficult to drink it all in because of the continuously oscillating view.  Mr Aiyappa’s estate boasts a dark hill-station-green canopy of pepper creepers, date palms, silver oak and of course coffee by the acre. Kali, who as well as being Pam and Phil’s dog is also the consort of Shiva in his cosmos-destroying form and tends to be depicted with a necklace of human heads, was soon best friends with the Aiyappas’ dog Devil. 

The evening brought charades – the highlight undoubtedly Tyrannasaurus Rex and a seeming platypus for Oedipus the King (rex in Latin…) – and star gazing through the piercingly clear night.

The return ride wound its way through Kerala’s Wayanad forest and then the Rajiv Gandhi national park – where a couple of riders spotted elephants from the road – and then through the fields above Mysore on a narrow strip of dusty road just a little wider than a Bullet tyre in places.

Ravenous after a long stretch on challenging roads a bakery provided just what was needed for negotiating Mysore highway on a Sunday evening: hot dil pasand and aloo bun – the bhel puri of Bangalore’s bakery-centred snacks.

Photos courtesy of Phil Clevenger and Joel John

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Coffee, snakes and sea

December 5, 2009

For once in my life, I was in no hurry to land up in Goa, courtesy Road Veda. I joined a Bullet bike ride from Bangalore to Goa and as the only pillion rider amongst the bunch I was by default the official photographer for the trip.

I could go on endlessly about the trip, so to save everyone from my level of enthusiasm, I’ll just share some ‘bullets’ from the trip:

– We landed at a hotel at 11 pm on the first night to just crash for a few hours and take off again. We must have presented quite a sight to the staff of the hotel.  With bikes, luggage, jackets and helmets they thought they were being attacked by naxalites!! We were wondering why they were being hesitant to open the gates for us. We found out the reason the next morning…. wow!!!

– The yum! Breakfast with poori aloo and umpteen glasses of coffees at Woodways, a quaint getaway in the midst of a coffee plantation estate in Chikmaglur

– We caught a nice sunny afternoon to pelt the ghats. It was the best part of the ride. We were doing the curves of the ghats, with the sun streaming through the tall trees, crossing small villages, happy breeze.

 Only as evening and the clouds approached, we had to make a quick run to finish the ghats and catch the sunset.

– Venetia spotting a big black snake somewhere in the ghats. All the rest of us missed it.

–  We wanted to catch the sunset on Kundapura beach. We had to zip through the last stretch of

 the cliffs of Agumbe and ride to catch the sunset.  We could see the orange ball of fire and chased it through the fields and narrow tracks.  Just about made it to the sea as it was going in the water.

– The night dip at the almost private beach at the Kundapura beach house where we stayed for the night.

– The next morning, the highway ride along the coastline with the sea on one side and the lake on the other.

– The first glimpse of Karwar – the blue sea and all the boats/ships stationed there.

– Our innumerable stops for chai, biscuits, smokes and pee breaks.

One of the best trips I’ve had.  Every time Road Veda announces the next ride all I can think is – damn!! I’m missing this one !!!!!!

Sarika Grover – Delhi