Posted in Travel

Ride to Heaven with Emperors

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Picture Credits – Ganesh Kumar

So, after a long gap of 4 years, we came back to CTC. An accident and relocating out of Chennai, had created this gap. Now that the gap was there, we were not confident of joining another event. Unfamiliar names and faces were making it difficult for us to even register for any event. So we had started with few biking trips on our own since Jan this year. Also, we were limiting ourselves to bike trips, as hubby is not yet ready for a trekking event.

Bike trip to Nilgiris was what we were planning for, and CTC had just that. We forgot our inhibitions and decided to register as soon as the mail arrived in inbox. Both of us were checking mails daily till the confirmation happened. It was pure bliss and lots of learning since then. This was our first group biking trip and we had never rode with any major riding gears till then. I had my first panic attack then. Route map gave me the second. I have to mention the amazing Vikram and Rads aka Radhika from Date a Bike who provided us with some great tips and also rented out their riding gear.

Weekday traffic playing the spoilsport, we could start from Chennai, only after a 2 hour delay, with some yummy dinner to start with. 4 hours drive with stops at tolls ensued. At 1 pm we camped at Ulundurpet toll. Women in tents and men on the tarp. A slow sleeper, I woke up only by 6am. Beds and comfort can never match the serenity of being wild.

Lots of driving, tolls, food, dosa, eggs – kalakki, omlette and half-boiled, with mutton curry, sweating and tiredness, but full enthusiasm on. This was the next few hours till Annur, when Bharani reached to lead the pack. Into the forest we drove, touching Kerala border and being lost in the wonderful sights. A lost baby elephant was the highlight here. We were scared, but nevertheless clicked pictures. By 5pm, after an enticing ride we were at Manjoor. Everytime the bikes stopped, I had to do my sit-ups, and hubby, Ajith, had to distribute snacks. Balaji, our organiser was going cranky that we were obsessed with photos, and never letting him stick to planned schedules. Madhu and Ganesh, the lovely couple with their fresh love and charm was good fun to be. And the boys, Vikki, Karthik, Kannan, all were a riot. As always bonding in CTC happens like a miracle. Camping was becoming difficult as the officer who usually grants permission was on leave, but our lovely Jatin, manged to get us a safe, cool spot, near a tea factory just with a few calls.

Nature’s call is always a difficulty for women, but it also opened up more opportunities. Madhu and I went and asked few young girls if they could let us use a toilet at their home. After a minute of deliberation, they not only let us use their toilet, but also gave us warm snacks and tea. All the men missed it. They also told us about Baduga, their local dialect, native to the Nilgiris, which is a mix of Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam.

Night was pretty cold, and Vighnesh in his dhoti was a miracle. Most of us used our riding gears and sleeping bags. Still can;t believe it now, while sweating and writing this in sultry Chennai. Early morning itself we left for Ooty, a full day of beautiful landscapes, scary off-roading, cool pictures and more food and fun. Roadside shops with their yummy local cuisine is the best part always. Downside of the trip was that we never shopped those juicy carrots or the yummy beets. We met old CTCians Ankit and Aditi, who were waiting for us near Masinagudi, and enjoy the rest of Nilgiris. More fun and photos, through the beautiful Mudumalai-Masinagudi Tiger reserve. We saw only sambhars and lion tailed macaques. Night camping at Kothagiri, and with a surprise visit from Shiva and friends. Early morning couple pics were the highlight with three couples. The ride back was the most overwhelming, leaving the place, last few hairpin bends and changing temperatures. Cannot forget it.

We clicked final selfies and exchanged goodbyes at Chengalpettu before Mani, our wonderful accountant settled accounts; can’t believe that we had so much fun, at so less price. The whole group donated 1000 rupees to Ainthinai, the plantation wing of CTC. Myself and Ajith said final goodbyes to Karthik and Murali after Kelambakkam. Special thanks to Murali for being the amazing rider ahead us. Learned so much, and we became real fans of his driving skill.

With more dreams and hopes, waiting for another CTC trip.

More fun here; with the creativity of Madhu, Mani, Vikki and Ganesh

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Author:

Environment, Society, Rebellion, Music and Adventure are keywords playing in my mind from as long as I remember. A default introvert and an obsessive extrovert, I have strong beliefs and I stand for them. Currently as a Fellow in State Bank of India's Rural Development Fellowship called Youth for India, I plan to share my journey to all.

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