India,Travel

Mechanics and chai, India 2013-2014. Part I

10 Jan , 2014  

So here it goes, I’m going to try and give you the short of our three week short India trip.

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A few months back I received an email from Kundy, an Indian I’d met in Hanoi, North Vietnam. I’d stumbled into a dorm we both inhabited, carrying a khaki green saddle bag and grinning from one ear to the other- I’d just bought my war hero of a motorbike. Somehow within 10 minutes of meeting each other we planned to go west together on motorbikes. I taught her to drive my bike, and the next minute she bought her own. Day after we set off and lost each other in Hanoi traffic. We only knew each others first names. I continued, but Kundy ended up going south and having an adventure of her own. Through a mutual dorm friend we found each other again on Facebook. We exchanged messages and agreed to do a motorbike trip at some point together… and so when I opened the email that started:

“Hello guys,
I’d like to end this year with a bang and I am sure both of you agree.”

I knew this was the trip we’d been talking about.
Even thought she enclosed a rough plan we ended up completely winging it, we’ll get to that!

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At the beginning of last year I ended up getting together with this chap, J, and persuaded him to come to India for the trip. He was somewhat unsure about going to the land of filth, cows and suicidal drivers- let alone driving there. Slowly he started to warm up to the idea, at some point he even seemed to look forward to it. I gathered that he was a bit worried about learning to drive a motorbike over there, and surviving driving said bike, probably from comments such as “…if I return” “…if I survive” etc. I didn’t take much notice and ensured him that all would be well.

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Here he is looking quite pleased in an auto!

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We bought our bikes from a guy in Paharganj. He was a smooth talker… a typical Delhiite. I’m not even going to say anything about him, it wouldn’t be kind.

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Here I am chatting to some of the other customers. We were to pick up our bikes after 3 days, first thought we had to head to Punjab for a wedding.

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The guy that sold us the bikes helped us out with these special garments, he took us home and his wife sorted us out. So after a day with him and an evening with him and his wife we headed off to Punjab early the next morning. I should note that this is literally our third day in India, we were speedy to say the least!

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And here we are with the bride and groom. We were on the grooms side, as he was our friend H’s cousin. I can safely say that we were treated like celebrities at that wedding. We were even in the family (!) photo outside of the temple.
Kundy and her roommate nearly died laughing when we returned to Delhi and showed them the photos!

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In India you meet some quite fascinating characters. This chap is deaf and dumb  and insisted on standing right in front of me at the train station and making very, very strange faces. I mistakenly made eye contact with him and boy were we in for a surprise! He started tracing letters in his palm and making gestures of flying. It became like charades. Vividly he thrust his arm horizontally in the air, “flying!”, he nodded and laughed a strange sound full of happiness. His finger tip started spelling… “U”… “S”… “A”… “USA!” we shouted excitedly. And then we became confused, had he been to the states? It certainly seemed so. He stood like the statue of liberty and spelled out New York.
Someone got out a pen and then the real fun started, he wrote down lots of destinations and gestured their relation to each other. Perfectly he motioned the place of the UK and France.
This went on for about 40 minutes. I was ashamed in the end, for thinking he was a complete nutter, when really he was a nice man that came across as quite educated and well traveled.
You can imagine the scene thou, or you can’t if you haven’t been over India way, we had about 25 people packed round us staring at what was happening.

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J met some friends on the train. They chatted about business and pleasure. I sat next to a sadhu that kept giving us all free tea, I offered him crisps in return and he gladly nibbled at them. “Baba gi” I would say and smile, and he’d retort with some longwinded hindi mantra.

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And so we were back in Delhi, and our bikes were sort of ready. We decided to set off for Jaipur early the next morning.

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We barely made it 40 km out of Delhi before my bike broke down. Here Kundy is tightening the clutch!

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And then we broke down again. And waited for 5 hours… Kundy had to go off and find a mechanic. She persuaded a guy with a jeep to come and look at my bike. He couldn’t do much and they set off to find a bullet mechanic. A few hours later they turned up and the mechanic tinkered with the bike for 10 minutes and got it going; he needed a lift back so I said he could drive my bike and I’d sit on the back. It became obvious that there was something else wrong with the bike… turned out the whole engine was loose really. So we ended up staying in Hariyana that night.

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(This was all christmas eve)

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Oh, and J’s bike had to be welded after the footrest came off.

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And then the next day we broke down again. Kundy hailed the first truck that came past. They had a light load of tiles. She persuaded them to help us… and so we began hauling up three bikes onto the truck, by rope and pushing.

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My bike got a new clutch plate in Jaipur by what seemed to be a capable mechanic. We were starting to get fed up with mechanics and drinking chai with them for hours on end.

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At Ajmeri Gate, in Jaipur, we went to haggle for some parts for my bike! Good fun, it was.

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We even saw a temple.

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After two nights at Kundys fathers first cousins house and the bikes being repaired… And the temple seeing, we were off again.

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Oh guess what. One broke down again, but not mine! This time it was J’s and we’d gotten about 50 km from Jaipur. Whenever he hit anything over 50 km/h, the bike would start coughing and loosing power. The piston was apparently knackered… and so we needed a new piston. We decided to leave the bike there and head to Pushkar for one night on the two remaining bikes.

That’s it for now! The pictures are taking a while to load so will do the rest tomorrow or the day after (or preferably after our exams).


2 Responses

  1. Tina says:

    It all sounds wonderful, if a little frustrating! Bring on the next trip, maybe stick to a minsk though?!!! x
    I love the way you write my darling girl, you make me very proud, love and hugs to you both x

  2. tina says:

    Just read this again, and it made me really sad that I sold Jeff the mt 660 cc Yamaha last year. Getting really itchy feet………again, you write so well my lovely. One can actually picture being there and smelling everything. My love to you as always xx

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