Friday, June 30, 2006

My Tejas Desktop

This is how my desktop looks now. Tejas is a Light Combat Aircraft, which is being developed indigeniously. Click on the title to see more of the Tejas's photographs. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Solo ride to Ichalkaranji on Machismo - Part 1 of 4

It has been quite a time after I decided to write about details about ride, yet another solo ride on Machismo, to Ichalkaranji. During my stay at home I decided to write but my laziness and pampering by my parents and sister just did not allow me to put any paragraph. But now once I have come back to Chennai, I have decided to post them as and when I get any time from work.

I was talking to my friend in his showroom of REL motorcycles (bullets) on Wednesday where he told me about his desire to participate in Himalayan Odyssey, a bullet rally arranged by REL. I offered him my bullet for the rally. It was decided that I would continue my return journey to Chennai two days later and then work out arrangements to send the bullet to Kolhapur or to Delhi for him. That whole day my Baba was accompanying me. It’s a great pleasure to take your father on a ride on your motorcycle. We got some work done on bike; it was re-doing electrical connections for the two auxiliary lamps on bike, at the showroom and returned to Ichalkaraji later in evening. When I parked my bike in front of our home, I noticed a sudden muscular pain in the left wrist, severe enough to make me restrict its movement in any direction. The pain remained in the next morning also and I was forced alter my plan for return journey. I could not get any berth in Haripriya Express on Friday and Saturday. So I booked a bus ticket in a bus for Bangaluru. Saturday afternoon I left the home for Kolhapur with my bag on bullet, left the bullet at REL showroom for my friend, and visited CPR to see Satish. His mother had undergone surgery the previous day. After spending some time with him I boarded bus near Central Bus Stand 6 pm. Satish came to see me off. I reached Bengaluru on Sunday morning where I boarded on bus for Chennai which took me to the Koyambedu at 4 pm. Overall it was pleasant journey, but without my bullet.

It was in the beginning of the third week of May, I felt that I wanted a break. My routine was well tuned my post-April-17 life since when I had jumped back into role of a regular Research Scholar. It was quite some time since when I had not visited my parents. Last time when I visited home, was on 30th December for an hour when I was on way to Pune with Dr Vivek driving back his car. It was too much brief visit. Before that it was in November when I rode Machismo taking circuitous routes during my visit to Ichalkaranji. I had visited Raigad, Chinchwad, Walawal, Panaji, Jog Falls and my journey was interrupted by rain at Arsikere after covering total ~2850 km that had taken 17 days.

In that impulse, anticipating my guide’s approval and smooth working of all other necessary things, I left the Machismo at REL’s servicing centre in Thiruvanmiyur on Monday morning with necessary instructions for checkup that is to be done before going on a long ride. The two – three days passed in uncertainty lingering over the plan. But some how on Thursday evening all the uncertainties vanished and I reached the servicing centre to get delivery of bike. It was still not ready. The mechanic had just discovered that the liver that indexes the gears was half broken but was just functional in last few months. It could have broken completely any time during travel. It took one hour to fit new lever. They had fitted a new halogen bulb. After usual checkup I left the centre with bike. Then, only thing remained with my mind was an exciting ride ahead.

I planned to take a circuitous route to reach Ichalkaranji and a straight route for return to Chennai. For going I thought of riding along NH4 upto Kolar, reaching Tumkur via Vijaypura-Dodballapur, then riding along NH206 to Honnavar, then reaching Panaji along NH17 and Ichalkaranji. It would have taken three days to complete this journey. Interestingly I had followed this route in my ride in last November but in the reverse order. But on 19th May, something else was to happen!

Continued in part 2 ...

Solo ride to Ichalkaranji on Machismo - Part 2 of 4

On Friday, 19th, I got up early so that I could be ready with my bag, first aid kit, some snacks, packed fruit juice and driving gear. I was happy to see Santosh coming to help me in preparation. We loaded the bag on bike, arranged all the material, some in side carrier and some in various pockets of bag. I kicked off the ride at 3.10 am from Kaveri Hostel in presence of Santosh and a security guard. I even remember Santosh taking my photo by his camera phone. But hopefully it is still in his phone.

Odometer: 20645.1 km, 0310h (0 km, 00h00m)

From Guindy (in Chennai) I joined NH4 and noticed that the four-laning work was still unfinished. One good thing was that every where at least one side of the road was ready but the lane-strips were not painted. Absence of lanes poses some inconvenience to the motorists however good the road surface may be. The road was ready for cruising at 70 – 75 km/h with a little extra care. It was almost dawn when I passed by Kanchipuram. NH4 bifurcates at Walajapet, some 100 km from Chennai. The road via Krishnagiri - NH46 - has four lanes and is a part of golden quadrilateral. The road via Chittoor goes to Bangalore and continues to be NH4. I joined the road to Chittoor. By this time the day almost broke and the traffic on road started increasing. This road passes through a national park and warning signs of elephants crossing can spotted at some places. Till half past six there was no stopping. When nearing Palamner I started feeling hungry and I stopped near a roadside dwelling of shops. The tea shop, run by a wife-husband pair, was just opened. They welcomed me with warmth and prepared tea quickly. They offered me biscuits also to have with tea. After three cups of tea and six-seven biscuits, and after paying bill of mere 12 rupees, I set off for further travel. My log sheet indicated that I had covered 180 km non-stop in 210 minutes. Till the date this was my longest distance covered in single strech and also 210 minutes was the longest time spent riding at a stretch. During this stretch I never exceeded 85 km/h.

Within half an hour, I started feeling drowsy and I decided to take a few minutes rest. I slowed down and started looking for a suitable place. I spotted a bench made of stones at some 50 feet away on the right side of road. I reached the bench, parked bike, removed helmet and lay back on the bench. I got a sound sleep of fifteen minutes. After getting up I felt completely refreshed and very energetic. Looking around I realized the beauty of the place. The bench was situated in line with an array of tall coconut trees along clay road emerging from a river bank at distance of 200 feet and then joining the highway. The surroundings were full of green farms and sun was just showing-up himself behind a small cloud. I made entry in log-sheet and started riding.

Odometer: 20864.0 km, 0800h (218.9 km, 4h50m)

I entered Kolar which is a couple of kilometers away from the highway. I wanted to confirm the road to Vijaypura and so asked an auto-driver the same. He gave me a nice smile and showed me a small crossroad on the right and asked me to follow it all along. I thanked him, entered the road and soon realized that I was in the middle of white buildings apparently bearing a look of some administrative office complex. And that’s it, it was the end of the road! I appreciated the sense of humor the auto-driver had exhibited and returned to the main road and followed the road that was in my memory. Before starting to cruise, I verified it with a gentleman. This incident confirmed two things; one, my memory can be sometimes trustworthy; and second, you find this type of auto-drivers every where, even in Kolar! After riding a fifteen – twenty kilometers I realized that the roads were in extremely bad condition. It had hampered my speed significantly to the extent I started feeling that the decision of taking this route in order to avoid busy traffic of Bengaluru was not a wise idea. But then rides have to have such elements to surprise you in order to add to the excitement!

I had brief lunch after reaching Gauribidnur that is just 15 km before Tumkur. When I resumed journey at 12 pm I was already two hours and a quarter behind schedule. But it was all right. Only thing that was troubling me was that the signboards for directions and the distances were written in Kannada and I had to rely upon the native people and sign language for knowing directions. And then a goof-up took place. At a cross-road I could not find directions mentioned in Hindi or English. I turned to right. I drove some 20 km and enquired about road to Tumkur. I was told that Tumkur was 40 km away almost in the opposit direction. This meant I had missed the road in big way and was on the way to Sira which is on NH4 towards Mumbai. This was the moment when I decided to drop plan to reach Honnavar that evening. In stead of that I decided to continue my journey to reach Ichalkaranji directly. In some way I wanted to enjoy biking so I was not particular upon following only one plan. Here two things went wrong for Honnavar plan, one was decision of bypassing Bengaluru. Though it gave me a wonderful experience of riding through countryside, it pushed me behind schedule by more than three hours. The second thing was deviating from the desired route. I accepted this divine instruction to reach home directly to meet parents waiting for me in stead of roaming hither and thither!

I joined NH4 at Sira at around 2 pm. A glassful of tender coconut water energized me. Hubli was around 280 km away and I had four and half hours available before sunset. So Hubli became destination for the night’s halt. I had so far covered 443.4 km in eleven hours.

Odometer: 21088.5 km, 1410h (443.4 km, 11h00m)

Continued in part 3 ...

Solo ride to Ichalkaranji on Machismo - Part 3 of 4

Odometer: 21088.5 km, 1410h (443.4 km, 11h00m)

I left Sira riding along NH4 and felt that the traffic on busy NH4 was friendly and familiar. The heavily loaded trucks were cruising fast but they were giving side to a little two-wheeler in their rear-view mirror that was requesting a side. The roads had many diversions but their occurrence was much less than November. I left Chitradurga behind at 3 pm. This was some three hours before time if compared with my February 2003 ride, the first ride to Ichalkaranji where I had started from Kavery Hostel at 3.30 am and reached Chitradurga at 6 pm. Tea break in Ranibennur gave me a surprise as the roadside tea-stall cum snack shop owner offered me plateful of tasty Pohay. That was almost like home coming! The tea also was good. And all this was in mere 8 rupees. I always prefer roadside small tea-shops or eateries as I don't have to unload the bag and other material from the bike. In stead I can park bike and can have tea/snacks on a nearby table. This way the bike remains in sight. In case there is no open space, the owner of shop is invariably kind to keep a watch on bike and bag while I have snacks/meal inside. And then these eateries give good food at very low charge.

It was quite clear that I was able to reach to higher cruising speeds than usual. But I was losing time mostly at diversions and on two-lane stretches when following slow moving vehicles. But it was nothing but natural and I was enjoying that. Most of the time I was overtaking the same trucks and buses after each of my stops. I remember from my November ride that the stretch of some 100 km before Hubli was horrible. Here I have a solid reason to say, "I remember", and you have to remember what I had written in one of the earlier paragraphs to say about my memory! To my surprise the road was repaired well although four-laning was far from completion. It seems that this stretch will be the last one to be ready. I almost reached outskirts of Hubli at 8.25 pm where straight road takes you to city and a left cut takes you to the bypass of Hubli and Dharwad.

Odometer: 21367.3, 2025 pm (722.1 km, 17h15m)

It was the first time in my life I had covered 700+ km distance in one day. There were 230 km to be clocked. I still had energy to continue and started feeling that I could save a whole day if I continued riding. The proposition of saving a day looked very attractive to me and there I decided to continue the journey. I got the left auxiliary lamp tightened at a roadside workshop. But it took more than twenty minutes.

Initial 20 km were along the bypass. It was a two-lane road with good surface. The road passed over a number of hills along steep inclines surprisingly straight. When going downhill on this road, first time in this ride, I crossed 110 km/h and later often my speedometer needle flirted with this speed range whenever I could find a right situation and the situations came in plenty. The bypass takes you directly to the four-lane NH4 which is at near completion. Occasionally diversions came along the way. These sudden diversions were a matter of concern. Here my new head lamp fitted with halogen bulb proved very useful. With this new bulb, I could get a very bright beam that was penetrating at least four hundred meters. This meant I had a minimum of 14 seconds of reaction time when cruising speeds nearing 100 km/h which was reasonably good. But my bike’s braking time for 100 km/h to a complete halt was 15 to 20 seconds so I still had to be watchful. On the way I noticed that the left auxiliary lamp was not working and found it swinging near the crash guard hung with its power cable. Thanks to the road with minimum of humps that it had not fallen in the way. I stopped immediately. I had to cut its wire and keep it in the side carrier. After resuming the riding, I realized that the other auxiliary lamp was emitting a brighter light beam, being the lone load on the battery.

I crossed Belgaon and stopped to call at home and to inform them about the changing plans. Even earlier I was communicating with my parents during stops and sending messages to Rani, the sweet sister. I had not informed them about continuation of journey from Hubli. Actually I had sent message to Rani from Hubli telling I was coming directly, which she received when I was talking with them over phone in Belgaon.

Odometer: 21474.0 km, 2235h (828.9 km, 19h25m)

From Belgaon starts the longest stretch of highway completed with four lanes and it is a joy to ride along. The towns with familiar names were going past in flash. I found the traffic was significant. How different it was this time, as during my first ride I used to be caught in traffic jams at every few kilometers! I had a quick dinner at Nipani. I think I forgot to make an entry of this stop in the log sheet. At around twelve past thirty in night I must have reached Kolhapur. This new road just doesn’t give any feeling of a passing town as it bisects the town and goes over its cross-roads. After Kolhapur I aligned to the road to Ichalkaranji, last 25 kilometers. It is a narrow road with amazingly dense traffic even in those late hours. The pace was lowered naturally. When I reached home, Rani, Aai and Baba were waiting for me at the gate. They were all excited about my covering this distance in one shot. After pulling the bike in parking and changing cloths, I feasted on the Haapoos Mangoes, also known as Alfonso by some people. It was a real home coming!

Odometer: 21564.3, 0110h (949.2 km, 22h00m)

My log sheet readings returned a driving time of 18 hours and 18 minutes and 51.9 km/h average driving speed. I found myself quite comfortable after journey. That time crossing one thousand kilometers didn’t seem impossible. In fact it seemed to me that the home came too early. Machismo underwent a whirlwind endurance test. No doubt she performed exceedingly well. I wish my parents lived in Satara or in Pune!

Petrol receipts in Part 4 ...

Ichalkaranji Ride - Part 4 of 4 - Petrol receipt and log-sheet

Petrol reciepts taken on the way (after filling petrol!) for reference of curious people. :-)

Log sheet - In its crudest form.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Are you prettier than me?

Papa, who is that?

I am still not one!

But I have car also...

And a freeze too ...

Now tata!
- Ananya Sanjeev Aruna Joshi Posted by Picasa

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Volunteers required in a tsunami affected village in AP

I got a message from my friend Anwar about requirment of volunteers for an NGO in rehabilitation of a village in Ongole district (Andhra Pradesh). Interested people may contact him. The details are in his message which is ...

"Dear All, EWB (Engineers Without Borders) is a US based NGO which in currently working along with another NGO called SWRC in a village close to Ongole District in AP. this village is one of many tht was affected during the Tsunami. They are in dire need of a volunteer for a week who would work along with American engineers. the engineers are working on building the borewells all over the village. the NGO will bear all the expenses of the volunteers including Food, Accomodation, Transport and others. Apart from being an opportunity for you to contribute something to the society, it would be a very good experience. Those interested may call on this nos S Anwar:98859 28247; Deepthi Dutt: 98855 94387."

Friday, June 02, 2006

Just some thing

It has been quite a time after I decided to write about details about the ride to Ichalkaranji, yet another solo ride on Machismo. During my stay at home I wanted to write about it but my laziness and pampering by my parents and sister just did not allow me to put any paragraph. But now I have decided to post them as and when I get any time from work.