One of the least fun things you can do in India is ride a motorbike at night, especially during the winter. Winter in Gujarat isn’t anywhere near as cold as in Europe, but, it is definitely cold enough to make you think twice about jumping atop a motorbike once sun’s down.
We left Junagadh later than planned. A few tea and food stops and a punctured tyre in my front wheel made sure that we wouldn’t arrive at our next destination before dark. I understood this and decided to take it easy while shooting some stuff along the way.
One of the shittiest and most annoying things about this night travel is that the oncoming traffic does everything to blind the vehicles coming towards them with their own vehicle's high beam. In theory, you give them the high beam and they shut theirs off. In reality, not all high beams are created equal in India. The biggest vehicle has the right of passage and the right to do anything it wants.
There is of course the risk of a crashing into a cow, or a villager on a bicycle without lights, or some kind of rural abomination on wheels that no longer has its lights functioning. A million other potential unpleasantries can take place, but, experience taught me how to avoid these. What I couldn’t avoid and save myself from was the cold. My jaw and torso were hurting a couple of hours into darkness. All the teeth clenching, shivering and tensing will do that to ya, I guess.
The image at the top of the post is of Hardik, my friend, translator and fellow adventurer. We’ve had countless rides like this. Now, 4 years since our last trip together, this somehow feels like just one leg of a bigger journey we started when we first met a decade ago.
Hardik smokes like a chimney. I never smoked in my life. For once his smoking was useful for me, as the break allowed me to capture some of the ambience of this journey in darkness – the moon, trees all along the road and only occasional flashes of light.
I didn’t intend for smoking to become the theme of this post, but, it seems that by putting up the image above, it just did. This Osho look-alike (albeit with a red beard) was a friendly local who stopped at the place we stopped at to have some rest. Hardik challenged him to blow bubbles with the smoke, so, the man tried.
The night ride left us exhausted. Though I say that night riding is not fun and I do hate it for most part, I actually loved this journey. It was a little like going back in time, reminiscing on how I traveled when I was younger.
The morning after was a reminder of the less loveable side of India. I was woken up much earlier than planned by the sound of a man spewing his guts out in the hotel room next to mine. I forgot about this little tradition that some locals have. It's part of a tongue cleaning ritual that takes place before the day starts.
Only a few minutes later I repeated the spewing, only for a different reason. India has now officially welcomed my stomach. So, here I am, still a little sleep deprived, slightly dehydrated, but, almost ready for another day of adventures.