Day 18 --> Bharuch --> Mumbai
A day which we looked forward the most (as we would be able to achieve our goal); at the same time a day which we dreaded the most (as our journey was coming to an end).
Compared to the other days on return, we had planned this one in detail. Distance to be covered was about 320 kms only; so we took our time to get ready in the morning (we made sure to wear the same black tee’s which we had shopped in McLeod Ganj); got our group photo clicked by a hotel attendant before we crossed the 139 year old golden bridge over narmada river. We wanted to return the same way we had started; so Ansu took the Avenger, Anand the Thunderbird and me and Kuttan huddled in the car. There was to be no swapping; except me and Kuttan (Kuttan took the wheel first).
As i played the DJ, the miles were swept off and within half an hour of breaking fast, we were across the borders into Maharashtra. As i took the wheel from Kuttan, the climate did a u-turn. It was shining bright when we left in the morning, but now the clouds had grown thick and dark and the downpour took us by surprise with it’s ferocity. The visibility reduced considerably and so did our speed; we didn’t feel like stopping though. The riders who initially enjoyed the respite from heat were getting completely drenched and even the car skidded a few times on the slush. We realized that not a day on the road could be taken for granted and continued our ride cautiously. Mother nature had a last trial for us to face and we were determined to win through.
Home was within reach and our hearts quenched any hunger our stomachs had as we quit lunch for just tea and headed towards our destination. The riders went in first and were soon followed by the car for a warm reception by our family who had all arrived and waited for us to make landfall. Hugs, kisses and happy tears flowed from family; with Ansu’s pet dog Philie loudly welcoming him back with excited barks.
Getting out of the car and standing together with my brothers, i felt a happiness which i’d never known and the smile didn’t move out of my face for the rest of the day. Ushering us into the apartment, the riders quickly changed into dry clothes and Ansu’s dad made sure everyone packed into the hall where he announced our grand return. Anand’s parents gave us a team trophy while Ansu’s parents along with our spouses presented us individual awards (shaped as bikes) and tee’s with the biker brotherhood logo to commemorate our successful ride.
We gladly posed for the photos and the other 3 brothers got involved in picking up choice gossips of our trip and sharing it with family. Sheetal (my wife) and Ansu’s mom noticed that i was very calm and were curious about that. I told them that i was feeling an enhanced sense of peace at having completed the journey and everytime i closed my eyes for a moment, i was back at the mountains of Ladakh, a curving road by the gurgling river, a cool breeze flowing with prayer flags fluttering and the only other sound being the bike’s.
Rounding up the celebration, I made a special mention of the support of our family, especially the spouses gave us whose good wishes ensured our journey ended on such a high note and also that it had strengthened the bond between the brothers. The family responded by saying that the trip also brought them together as they kept a close track on where we had reached every hour.
Victory was to be celebrated, but the road goes on and new ventures await us brothers; as we strive to expand our brotherhood and go to places yet to be reached.
I’d like to end this long write-up with my favorite poem from The Lord of the Rings..
“Home is behind
The world ahead
And there are many paths to tread
To the edge of night
Until the stars are all alight”
Let’s ride towards the stars…
The brothers parted the next day after spending the night congratulating each other, reminiscing few more stories from the trip and discussing hazy ideas of some of our future trips (whereupon mine and Anand’s wives; Sheetal and Anuya jumped into saying that they’d be joining too).
I had mentioned in the title that the trip was life altering for us. Elaborating on the same below.
Anand promised that he’d go for more rides in Kerala with his friends and wife (now that he no longer had any inhibitions on riding). He was moving to a day job (after many years of doing night shifts) and with the thunderbird in hand and God’s own country at his disposal, looked set for a comfy ride ahead.
Ansu planned to continue going for rides near Mumbai with his TAG and F.L.G groups and also shared his intention to start a biking group on his own; sending out invites and bringing the joy of the ride to more like-minded brothers and sisters. His lone ride on his bike may soon have a lady company too; as his parents continue to coax him for marriage.
Kuttan shifted his focus to finding a job first (hopefully in India itself) and then investing on his bike. He targets to do masters in engineering (preferably automobile) from an international university and hopefully achieve his dream job (which he had shared during our ride)
As for me, I had gone to the trip anxious, but determined to find my purpose; I came back relaxed and peaceful believing that life will take its own course just like the stream flowing from the mountain top into the valley. Professionally, i have started at a venture i believe in; while promising to invest more time in writing; which is my passion. For me, this travelogue is only a beginning.