I was very happy that morning. I got freshened up and started to pack the things. We had decided to leave by around 8 am. A little late, because we had slept very late the earlier night. From now on, we just had to ride down the highway till we reached back home in Pune. There was no stopping for sightseeing along the way. However, there was still time and 2 more days left for our Golden Quadrilateral ride to officially get over.
I was feeling some kind of low at the moment that soon our classic road trip was coming to an end. But, at the same time, I was equally happy that I would be passing through my second home (Ahmedabad) on the way. I had intended to halt there today and spend a complete day tomorrow meeting and greeting my friends. This was also going to serve as a rest day. The last rest day we took was in Kolkata which was exactly at 180 deg to Ahmedabad.
Lot of things were running in my mind. It was like a turbulence. Mentally, I was preparing the list of the people to be visited and things to be done which I had missed last time when I had came to attend my friends wedding. I left Ahmadabad in 2017 and since then I had done 2 trips back. Both were on the occasion of my friend’s wedding, one in Porbandar and another one in Ahmedabad.
It was a bright sunny day and we left the place around 8:30 am after we paid the balance amount to the hotel owner. I also checked the level of my engine oil and it seemed to be perfect. It had not dropped a little since we rode down from Gurugram and so the new engine oil bottles which I had received from my friend last night remained unopened. This again served as a top up to my happiness level. I was just dying to ride down to Ahmedabad. I’d spent 4.5 yrs of my life there.
After around 2 hrs of driving, we stopped midway between Beawar and Pali. We were going to take the Pali-Sirohi-Palanpur road towards Ahmedabad and bypassing Udaipur as the roads were little messy and that way it would take us a little longer to reach the destination. We were staring at almost a complete day’s ride towards our destination.
The hotel where we stopped for our 2nd Chai break, I found them on Instagram. To this, I was really taken back as I wondered that a tiny hotel on the roadside in Rajasthan could be on Instagram. The current generation has vastly progressed in terms of technology, I wondered. This happened when I was checking my mobile phone and at that time, I got a notification from this hotel that they had started to follow me. Apparently, when we were having tea inside, the owner in process of checking our bikes had noticed my Instagram name which I have put on the bike. Now, all the dots in my mind got connected. However, the tea which he served was lukewarm. When we gave the feedback, he obliged and we got our 3rd round of freshly brewed ‘Chai’.
After the ‘Chai’ break, we rode non stop and crossed Pali. The bikes went into reserve and we had to stop to get petrol filled into our tanks. It was during that time that I noticed that I had crossed my 80,000 km figure on odometer. It was an big achievement for me and another top up for my level of happiness for the day.
Just before our entry into the state of Gujarat at Abu Road, we decided to halt for our late lunch. The time was around 3 p.m. We had a typical veg thali and really liked the taste of the food. Somehow, I get the feeling that these small little hotels a.k.a ‘Dhabas’ serve one of the tastiest and freshly prepared food. They are always busy in making and serving food and so what we get to eat is fresh unlike some big restaurants which mostly serve us freezer kept food (the raw items). After the lunch, and since it was almost a the start of the evening, we decided to have our 4th round of ‘Chai’ before we pushed ahead.
I have driven on this stretch of highway a numerous amount of times and so knew the roads inside out. It was a 2 lane highway on each side but the built quality was superb. We were just cruising along near 80 kmph and enjoying the wind blast on our face. For a small duration of time, we could see the ‘Aravali’ mountain range towards our left hand side. I had also noticed that though my odometer had clocked 80K some hours before, it was not moving at the desired speed. The speedo needle had gone for a toss. I knew at the back of my mind, that the cable had damaged and was not showing the true speed. I was wheeling around 80kmph but the needle was hovering around 40 kmph. Almost a half drop in the speed and so my odo was responding the way the needle behaved.
The traffic started to pile up once we crossed Palanpur. It had been decided that CSK sir and Kartik were going to push till Baroda and halt there. Since they had nothing to in Ahmedabad, it was best decided that they stretch till Baroda. They had the plan of seeing the ‘Statue of Unity’ tomorrow and so intended on reaching Baroda while I spent my day tomorrow at Ahmedabad. The regrouping plan was to be decided later on.
Along the way, we needed help on Kartik’s bike as the chain was loose and needed a bit help to tighten it. We found over google that we had our company’s showroom and service centre which was on our way and so we decided to directly move our bikes there. We reached Mehsana district around 6 pm where the bike was taking away for necessary work on the chain. While Kartik went along with the bike, me and CSK sir sat in the showroom chatting with the owner and hearing from him regarding the business goings of sales and service of Mahindra 2 Wheelers. He also offered ‘Chai’ which became our 5th for the day. The owner was very down to earth person and the great thing about him was that he offered to touch a Non-Mahindra bike. Had it been some other person or other company dealer, I knew, he would have refused it outright.
After spending some half n hour at the place, we thanked him before leaving and took a group picture. He had really gone out of the way and helped us. He was also happy that someone from the company (CSK sir) had visited the showroom and listened to their business stories. The work done on Kartik’s bike was perfect as seen from Kartik’s face. We again thanked him for the 11th hour support and moved ahead in our direction towards Ahmedabad.
From Mehsana, it is close to 60 km to Ahmedabad. I had decided to spend the night in Gandhinagar at one of my friend’s place. She knew about my GQ plan right from the start and had give me an open invitation to stay at her place whenever I’d reached Gandhinagar. Gandhinagar is just 18 kms before Ahmedabad and so, I decided to stay the night here at Gandhinagar and move towards Ahmedabad the next morning.
I reached Gandhinagar around 7pm and from there I bid adieu to CSK sir and Kartik who, then were pushing towards Baroda.
We were meeting for the first time (tough we were in touch with each other though Instagram). We both shared the same passion towards bike riding and exploring new places on motorcycle. The whole night was spent in exchanging stories of each other. Of my 4.5 yrs stint in Ahmedabad, I had never come across of a lady rider in the state. Riding culture has not evolved that much in Gujarat as compared to other states. But when I heard about Dipti’s solo travel stories on her Bajaj Avenger 220 , I was really taken back. She is also an India Book of Records holder and an Asia Book of Records holder. She is one hell of a fearless girl who is pursuing her passion like anything.
The next morning, I head out to Ahmedabad. On the way, I met one of my banker friend Nitunjay. It was a weekday and so almost all of my friends were working. I went to this bank to meet him. We used to ride together along with few of my close friends when I used to stay in Ahmedabad. After we had tea, it was time to move towards Ahmedabad.
I knew where I was going to stay. Everything was arranged prior to my coming to the city. I was feeling like coming to my home after a long duration of exile. The joy knew no bounds. I was going to stay at my friends place whose name Darshak. He was busy toiling in office and the key to his house was kept at this wife’s office. Once I collected the key, I went straight to his house. The house is not far from where I used to stay before.
I decided to visit my ex-company Ford. All my friends were there since it was a working day. Also, I thought this would be the best opportunity, so that I could get to meet maximum of my friends in one shot. I had only today’s day in hand. And so, I went to my ex-company which was 30 kms from Ahmedabad. All the luggage was kept nicely at my friends home and I was carrying the house key which was supposed to be handed over to my friend Darshak while in company.
As I walked the footpath leading to my earlier department, all the 4.5 yrs memories just whizzed past in front of my eyes. I was just visualizing how the plant was when I had first stepped my foot in and how it had become now. We were the first ones to come in here and overlook the activities right from when the plant was in construction phase. It was very emotional moment for me as I walked down the long hallway leading to my plant’s entrance. This was my first company after I had passed out of college and it was this company that had played a significant part in shaping me to become a person who I was today. I would be forever indebted to Ford for the opportunities it gave me. It had been a very tough decision for me to leave the company 2 yrs back.
There was so many people to meet in my department. From the people with whom I worked directly to my colleagues. We were a team of more than 100 people. Since, it was working, I tried my best to meet all of them. But, my main reason for coming here was to meet Mr. Ramesh Babu, who was my big boss and to whom I had not got the opportunity to meet while leaving the company. I had to meet him and apologize for not saying a proper goodbye before leaving. I had brought to him the famous Agra ‘Petha’ and a local snack dish from Pune called ‘Bhakarwadi’ which is almost world famous.
I had reached the company around noon and was there till the shift ended around 5 pm. I was not leaving till I met everyone. Since it was working, I decided to meet with ones who were left while on the hallway on their way to catch buses to go home. I also decided to head back home as there were still some evening programs lined up with other of my friends.
I got late in reaching my friends home since I had forgot to give the key and as a result they had to wait to gain entrance into their own house. We had planned to spend some time together but it looked like they had some function to attend and they too were moving out after getting freshened up. It was kinda sad that even though we were meeting after a long gap, could not spend enough time with each other.
I struggled now to attend 2 meetups at the same time. I had planned to have dinner with some of other friends from Ford whom I could not meet during my company visit and on the other side, my local Royal Enfield dealership guys, Sarabhai Motors, with whom I first started going for rides had organized a special event just for me. Dhruv Patel who works with Sarabhai Motors, is close friend of mine. We initially had planned to meet during the day but since I got late in my company visit, we could not meet each other. All the Sarabhai team had planned to celebrate my Golden Quadrilateral ride at the showroom. They had kept this all secret to me until I told them they I had 2 meetups at the same time and that visiting the showroom would not be possible. When they told that they had organized such a function for me, I had to accept the offer. I had no choice.
The Dinner guys had to wait for a while I went quickly to attend the celebration at the RE showroom. My Ford friends had already assembled at the designated hotel where we planned to have dinner. I had told them that I would join them ASAP. I reached the showroom at Nehrunagar, which is hardly 5 kms from the place I was staying. Along with me were joining 2 of my close friends too. Mr. Aashish Joshi and Zack. We were all old riding buddies from Ahmedabad until I shifted to Mumbai and Zack shifted to Kolkata. Zack had been again transferred to Ahmedabad and it had been a long time since we were meeting again that too at our favorite meeting place.
I had no words to say when I saw the cake. The guys at Sarabhai motors had planned it really well. It felt like a grand success of some big ride. Like, I had returned from a World Tour or something. It was an emotional moment for me. All the Sarabhai Motors team standing there while I cut the cake. It was a great example shown by Sarabhai Motors that we have to really find happiness in small things. And this was that moment. I would again like to thank Dhruv Patel for organizing this and throwing a surprise at me. We still have not face to face yet.
I again thanked the Sarabhai team for organizing this beautifully. I was really overwhelmed. After that, we all left and the three of us had tea at our favorite place. Just like the old times. It was done quickly as I had to rush for dinner.
When I reached the hotel Zankrut had already left the place. He recently had a death in the family which prohibited him to stay outdoors after 9 pm. So initially, 4 of us had planned for dinner and now we were left with only 3 including me. I was the only one left for dinner because the rest of them had it already. They had waited for me too long to finally order and eat it. We were at ‘Magic Chicken’, which was our go to hotel whenever we used to crave from some ‘Shawarma’ and Arabian dishes, back in the days.
After our dinner, Me, Shruti and Sonika tried our hand on some ice cream at a nearby famous ice-cream joint. I had also pulled in another friend of mine whom I’d missed meeting in the company. He was staying nearby only. We all had ice-cream before we bid each other goodbyes.
It was around 10:30 pm and my Ahmedabad chapter had come to an end. I was supposed to re-group tomorrow with my squad somewhere along the road tomorrow. The directions had already come on my WhatsApp. I went then to Darshak’s place for sleeping. He was awake but it looked like I had disturbed him from his deep sleep. He looked tired. Since, it was late in the night we decided to talk tomorrow morning before I head back to Pune.