Monday, June 15, 2015

And miles to go before I sleep......

"Love in miles…
As the vagabond sets sail….
The essence of backpacking is unfurled….
The free flowing spirit sets in….
And the speed limit transcended.

I wondered what could take me away…
From the corpy squeeze…
Or a muddled expectation marred kinship….
Or an entangled spree…
To run the rallying engine in search of no-where…

Resurgence speaks….
Reincarnation beckons….
Those tire marks showing the route to salvation…
The playlist synchronizing with the friction….
Hotel California resounding all along!

With the zeal to break away from the prick…
To “moments” on the boulevard…
To drink and to feel her presence beside…
Those rugged terrains transcended in a Vroom…
The hankering for inner peace to drive us home!

A tank-ful of zeal is all we need….
The yearning for a change to feed….
With the steer in hand and the rainbow to chase….
The inspiration to drive out of the maze…
Road-trip, you beauty,
You’re such a liberating phase..!"

 “Nobody’s perfect, I’m a nobody” – And here we are, talking of the idea of a perfect road trip…a road trip that comes as a blissful respite, the road trip that offers definite exceptions, the road trip that generates unscripted thrill, the road trip the promises to deliver and does create an everlasting impression.

Well road trips, on the outset, can be classified broadly into two major types:
A. Planned road trips- You run behind your boss for a stretch of weeks to get your leave approved; get hold of a vehicle (personal or hired), estimate the miles to be transcended, grab hold of an expedient company, decide your destination and “set sail” on a fine Friday morning.
B. Un-planned road trips- You do not even bother to inform anybody when this sudden nomadic surge takes control; you are driven by the exuberance and exhilaration of transcending those boundaries….your vehicle is your transporter to paradise. No plan, no strategy, no contrivance, no estimate; it’s a spirited free-run that doesn't know where to end, but it's impact does generate sweet & enduring memories.
And since we are definitely talking about a prospective bodacious encounter, certain pre-conditions are definitely on the cards; these are definitely not exhaustive, but would certainly ward off the slightest possibility of a wrack-up:
1. Rough estimate: Irrespective of a planned or un-planned scenario, an adventurer must possess an initial quantitative assessment of the distance to be traversed; the fuel reserve must suffice for a major half of the forward purlieu in case of a rugged jaunt. The “core” should be well lubricated before the expedition kicks off in style.
2. Flexibility: Well when you’re on the road, you got to have an amenable plan, both in terms of route and destination. The road might turn out to be a maze that might create a mirage in the “long run”….too rigid a projection could struggle to cater to the inherent unpredictability associated with every mile on the drive.
3. Undaunted concentration: On the highway, the free-spirited frolic could lead to disastrous repercussions if the grip on the steer becomes queerly loose; “mazaa” might transform into “saaza” within moments of imprudence. The External atrocities should not have an effect on the driver’s fortitude; he should take this as a challenge that doesn't come in with the option of a re-trace.
4. Optimized volume of music: Playing soft music on the drive has a two way benefit; it ensures the driver’s composure and amicably enhances the underlying vehemence of the on-road expedition. Drivers from across the globe have ascertained their favorite set of music decked up in a random shuffle mode to assist them in a relatively long rendezvous with speed.
5. Alternating control over the steer: A road-trip that covers a distance of greater than 300 kilometers (approx) on the stretch, should be embarked with a “steer-control-shuffle”; it’s identical to sharing those small bits of happiness and thrill that the “mere control” generates. Why should the chauffeurs have all the fun?
6. Keeping those liquor bottles away: Intoxication could sound thrilling; believe me, it mostly does. But the road, through her majestic elucidation, demands a perfect chronicle of adherence and fidelity; it’s a silent protest that she launches if the “the mark respect towards the road” drops even for fraction of a second. Her deathly mirages personify those testing hair-pin bends on a hilly expedition.
7. Diet control: “To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting; to drive without the spirit of unfulfilled contentment on the road is like a treat starting with Biryani yet ending with a half cooked bacon.” Hunger and rustiness on the road could be mutually dependent; your decision, your strategy, your approach and those outcomes have a direct co-relation with your physical prowess, and when I say physical, I do cover the entire segment.
8. Staying AWAKE, sitting beside the driver: That’s what I call a negative induction; it’s one of those very disparaging facts that affect the mental composure of the chauffeur, in charge of the ride. Happens with bikers too; they’re dismayed by the fact that the person resting at the back doesn't find appreciable interest in the cruise. The result could be adverse in many respects.
9. Switch off your mobile phone: Why allow the spirit of “grumpiness” to dent heavily on your subconscious mind on the drive? Perhaps your boss is unaware of the fact that you’re crossing a fogged marred hair-pin bend? Perhaps your girl-friend is missing you on a cosy Sunday afternoon? Save your battery on the run fella, give it a rest...Save your soul.
10. A camera to encapsulate those moments: A picture never alters although the people in them might; that’s what I call lucidity in the thinking process. A camera should definitely occupy a portion of the back-seat, it would carry glorious cognizance from a trip that would stay, stay for long enough.

Well, people seem to make a perpetual mistake of associating road-trips with the crux of Generation X; they call it a “channelized output of unscripted exhilaration and fervor”. However, that indeed debatable since my first hand experience says that the “control” increases proportionately with the growing years of perspicacity. I have seen my dad conquering all the natural barriers on the enduring trips from Itanagar to the highest ridges of Tawang, on the tricky stretch that unravels the “on-road diversity” from Bombay to Goa or a traffic-marred affair leading our way to the beaches of Mandarmani in West Bengal…the rides that demand skill, proficiency as well as patience and endurance. “I love it when the roads draw me close, I’m in a complicated relationship with the wide-open stretches that head over to the horizon”, he says, “Driving across the exquisite English countryside with glimpses of the ‘solitary reaper’ stirred me up and filled me with boundless joy”….he continued, I could see his sparkling eyes as he went deeper and deeper into those momentous chronicles. Yes, it’s a “magnetic rapport”, he explains…..

“A perfect road-trip, my friend, should have its intrinsic twists…it should test your mettle and drive you to the edge”; asserted my globe-trotter pal. I smiled. I could relate. I could feel the thrill yet again.

"Excerpts from my traveler’s diary- Unedited and Uncut"
9/11/2010- Roadway from Guwahati to Itanagar via Tejpur (The Back-Seat)

This is the first page of my Brand New PwC daily planner and I am utilizing it in my trademark fashion. The journey by car from Guwahati to Itanagar is unique in its own terms...a long stretch of 8 hrs on the drive has its own essence of titillation. The roads are a mix of wide-and-zigzag; and the sort of greenery it presents alongside, is soothing to the core. This is a BIG BIG project as far as we people are concerned; it’s a chance to start from the scratch. We’d been discussing on the tit-bits of our approach since the past couple of hours; the trip seemed to be heading towards a rather tedious one. The hidden atrocities of a hilly road-trip have started to show on our bodies. It isn't unbearable tough...shouldn't cross the tolerance limit I guess.

 ' - Memoirs  of Conquering the North-East -'
I guess this is the time, when Arnab-da is busy talking to his "beloved" wifey and the XIMB-ian Akash is taking a nap after a painful “discharge”, when I can at least write a few lines about this prospective” road-trip” that led to my first real Endeavour in the North-Eastern half of the country (we were quite weary of it’s progress already...). Let me first write something about the client, the focal point of our attention in this entire series of petrifying action-ables. We always had this sort of an uncanny feeling about this guy; how to face someone of such a stature, how to interact with him was a big question mark. There was an underlying sense of admiration for this guy and a bit of butterflies as well. We are excited at the prospect of meeting a person of such a caliber; the fact that I am fresh Graduate from a leading university of Bengal and my colleague, Akash, also new to this field, complicated the woes. Perhaps we shouldn't have gorged so heavily on those local cuisines before the start-up....even I had started to feel the pinch. 
The swirling pathway didn't help in the course either....
Enough of details I guess; we could deal with him later! ...Let’s focus on the “speedy outside”..!!! Perhaps this could keep me preoccupied at least for some time now. Well as I said, the roads are wonderful and what lies beyond them is even more appealing. Those clusters of huts embedded in the greenery with the villagers heading off to their daily grind- Was it the country-side I had envisaged? Those sky-scrapping mountains that lay beyond... they are looking spectacular in the background. Its’ a bit foggy today, even at close to noon, the peaks ain't clearly visible!!...Do they bear a spur of “uncovered” mystery?  Only time will speak. We are here for close to a year or so, we'll excavate in due course of time I guess! ;). Hajong, our Nepali driver, did start chanting a gullible local tune; he is really a vibrant figure. “There’s a rumor”, he said, “A mass murder incident was inflicted near Tejpur yesterday leading to road blocks”. Yes, that was truly a rumor; the roads are “exquisitely deserted”..This silence draws me close, very close!
Oh wait! Did I speak too early? Man!! A group of ignorant buffaloes blocked our path! Driven by an oblivious farmer, the “gang” is taking FOREVER to clear the pathway!...Arnab-da, in the mean time has finished chatting with his wife and Akash’s sound nap has been interrupted with the incessant honks. Time to get back to our discussion; will keep writing. Cya.

12/02/2011- On the way to Tawang (Travelling in a military truck)

We could have missed the experience of a life-time had we denied the client’s offer; the initial nerves were literally blown away.

However, it did seem to be the biggest mistake of our lives when our Gypsy stopped midway, cramped by the thick and impermeable layer of snow. It was a 12-hour journey from Itanagar to Tawang and we had started late in the evening so that we could reach there early in the morning. We were just about to put the blame on our decision of travelling at night when there was an amazing turn-around. A military truck was passing by, grazing through the snow in search of ‘daylight’ – that was the most ‘delight’-ful scene I have ever witnessed in my life. They stopped on the way ahead and offered help. We couldn't dare say no; it was as if the "rescue squad" had arrived on time.

' - Memoirs  of Conquering the North-East - '
 As we drove along the steep slopes of the Himalayas, bathed in the dense cover of fog, all we could do is pray; pray for a safe ride up to the heights of Tawang. The news of incessant landslides had just reached us from the base camp.
There were a few breathtaking moments when an odd reckless punk drove across the slope, but the serenity of the atmosphere and the Military driver’s competence were comforting and reassuring. The cup of hot coffee and those bowls of “instant-noodles” seemed like heaven in the shivering cold. We had just started chanting a few popular tunes when the driver suddenly pulled the brakes. We were literally dumbstruck to witness that death was just a few meters ahead of us; our truck stood on the extreme edge of the slope, on the edge of death- The mysteries of Nature had almost deceived us, but we were saved by an eternal bliss.
We were still recovering from the shock, when Mother Nature unfolded her exotic charm in-front of our eyes. Goodness gracious! It seemed like some un-known power had cast its spell upon us. Hypnotized we were as the Nature waved its magic wand in-front of our eyes. The ‘clouds of disaster’ SLOWLY moved away and the holy elegance of the Everest announced itself in full vigor. The feeble early morning sun-rays were just her treasured ornaments, her crown; her radiance...the shades on the snow-capped peak in the reddish glow was un-thinkable. WE STOOD THERE in utter disbelief....there was no sign of panic, no sign of anxiety, no sign of distress; The fear of Death had almost overpowered us couple of minutes back.....yet we were engrossed in savoring the best moment of our LIVES, undoubtedly the BEST. 
The truck had restarted in the mean-while and the driver signaled us to get into the vehicle as soon as possible. We rushed to occupy our seats when my colleague exclaimed-“Nature is the best magician ever. Our official trip has been glorified!”
No wonder, given a chance, I would like to undertake yet another challenging ride, that would not only test my mettle, but address to the unquenchable thirst of testing my threshold.

Yes Bro! We did it with stress!

And I got to tell you that those bruises haven't managed to impede our moves; the "hunt" for adventure is still on...the team is on the move again and the  plan for the next road-trip has been already chalked out. Here's the preliminary blue-print to your liking...Ahoy!
- Perfect Road-Trip Route: Guwahati to the Double Decker Living Root Bridge in Cherrapunji via Shillong...
- Approximate Distance: 200 Kilometers
- Approximate Time Duration for the road-trip: 3 Hours (
at Standard Driving Speed)
- On Road temperature: Pleasant, hovers around 15 Deg C close to the foothills but decreases as you ascend.
- Weather Condition: Cloudy,rainy and foggy mostly....
- Road Condition: Juxtaposition of decent and "below-par" on road experience primarily due to hilly blasts and civil cum archaeological  bustle, plenty of greenery around as you drive closer to your destination.
- Envisaged Satisfaction Quotient: HIGH. The 
Double Decker Living Root Bridge is the ONE and ONLY one in the world, you gotta trek along the hilly slopes after you reach the destination. The thrill of a road trip would thus be magnified at the prospect of an experience of a life-time.

Lens- Speak: An assorted collection from the road-trips to Arunachal, Bomdilla, Bhalukpong,Tawang and the North Eastern Frontier...

That's how the "road to Tawang" unfurled itself...such a magnificent sight it was...
We were in touching distance of our ultimate destination- TAWANG...!
Even he needed a breather on the way from Bomdilla to Tawang & we didn't complain!
That's when our transporter was resting, we took a dip into Nature's supreme glory....

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