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Old 17th March 2016, 21:51   #1
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Default My Duke, my tryst with the rain gods and the ride of my life

Not often does anyone face a life affirming situation. But when it does, how you act is what defines you. I faced one a while back. How I handled the situation is not something I am proud about, but nevertheless is an event I would not forget anytime soon. Something, that inspired me to take time to pen down my thoughts, share my memories. That is when, after four years of following team-bhp offline, I thought I had to be a part of this forum.

Prologue
Let me start with a brief Intro about me. Coming from an Air force family, discipline was something I grew up with. Waking up at 5 AM sharp, finishing homework before other activities, eating on time was something I had religiously followed for most of my schooling. All this discipline rubbed off on to other facets of my life as well. Even now, I continue the 5 AM timetable, continue reaching office 45 minutes in advance, finishing action on unread e mails before the others in office land and pull you into different directions. It also made me judicious with my purchase decisions. I would research for weeks and months before I make even small purchases.

But sometimes; Not often, but sometimes. You’ve got to do what the heart wants to do.

One area where I follow my heart is food. Another area where I have followed my heart over head is with phones. 6 years ago, when the world was moving the Android and Iphone way, I pigheadedly lusted over and purchased a Nokia N8 as soon as it released even though I knew that for that money there were better options available

Then there is my ride. Let’s start with that love story. My first automotive purchase was again a purchase decision by heart. In my lifetime I had got to ride the finest rides this side of a Royal Enfield. I always preferred the electric response of a two stroker. The newer generation of bikes I rode never came close to delivering the same feel. The answers to my prayers came in the form of R15. Though I did not have the courage put my money back then. I enjoyed the times riding and being the pillion on my roommates bike. The near perfectness of the bike was an appeal in itself but somehow the zing was missing. Then in 2012 Auto Expo, my world was literally rocked by the launch of the Duke.

On 11th February that year, the bike came to the Adyar showroom. One test ride and I was hooked. 16th March 2012 was when I first got my bike. When most of my friends were posting the Marriage and Baby photos, I was posting my bike photos.

My Duke, my tryst with the rain gods and the ride of my life-20120322021.jpg
Thats her shot on my favourite phone.


My Duke, my tryst with the rain gods and the ride of my life-20120317019.jpg
With the customary Tika.


The first Sunday was a group ride to Mahabalipuram. Made a few friends on that ride. All from KTM owners group.
My Duke, my tryst with the rain gods and the ride of my life-20120408001.jpg
My first group ride



My Duke, my tryst with the rain gods and the ride of my life-20120415057.jpg
The very next week did a solo ride to Pondicherry. I had planned My ride to meet the Sunrise at Pondicherry. Started from Chennai at 3:15AM.

The following day the limiter came off. Hitting 11000 rpm for the first time in my life was a feeling I would never forget. Over the years as work came piling on and on, the 2 Kilometer ride to and fro to the office was the best thing in my life. People would ridicule me when I would describe washing my bike as an orgasmic experience. In between few more purchases from my heart were my AGV K3 Gothic White and Dainese gloves (Which of course after my gaining weight no longer fit me). I would be strangely looked at initially, when I would get out of the Stick insect like bike (Does make sense to compare the lean Kiska design to an insect), walk from the parking lot to my seat with my helmet snugly held in my arms. The word on the helmet cost would be spoken in hushed whispers. I would secretly smile and take pride within because no one who talked so knows the joy these small things give me. Never did I have a bit of second thought on these decisions.
So now we get back to the story I wanted to start in the 1st Paragraph. Shall we?

Last edited by rohitoasis : 20th March 2016 at 11:02.
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Old 18th March 2016, 15:46   #2
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Default My Duke, My tryst with the rain gods and the ride of (for) my life. (2)

16th November 2015. (15 days before D Day)
A forewarning to the people of Chennai came on this day. I had to fly to Coimbatore that day on a business visit with my boss and when I wake up at 3, I am greeted by torrential downpour. The next three hours are spent trying to get a cab to the Airport 11 Km away from my house. Ola, Meru, Uber none had a driver at their disposal to save me from my plight that day. Luckily, my boss faced a similar situation and after a 6 hour delay we catch another flight to Coimbatore. 3 days later when I return to Chennai, I came to know that the street leading to our apartment (I stay in Ramapuram) was flooded for the past two days. This event was a necessary but (apparently) insufficient warning for the local authorities.

1st December 2015
7:52 in the morning. I head to the office, the same 2 Kilometer ride. It’s cloudy and I thought to myself how pleasant the weather in Chennai has been; for the past three months. As I waited in the traffic signal I was hoping that after my official training scheduled the next week, I should plan a ride before the typical Chennai weather rears its head again. Boy was I not prepared for the surprise that lay ahead.

Over the next two hours the heavens opened up and the sheets of water descended on Chennai. Being oblivious to the news by shunning Whatsapp insulated me from the fact that the rest of the city was shutting down as the day progressed. We continued working in the office even as announcements came by the lunchtime that we could head home if we wished so. We keep working on and on, hoping against hope that the rain will abate. Hours gone, finally at 6:30 in the evening it dawns to me that the rain has different plans. I grapple in office shelves to find bubble wrap and other polythene bags to protect my electronics. I head out in the rain only to realize that the front gate of our campus was under water and inaccessible. As I exited the rear gate fearing the worst of traffic, I was surprised as to how light the traffic was.

The electricity was out. The downslope road from the main road which led to my area was smothered in an Inky darkness. As I went a few hundred meters ahead, the road ahead had gone missing under waist deep water gushing downslope towards the Adyar River. A cop car with a dutiful cop standing there diverting drivers and riders to other routes which were lesser affected.
My Duke, my tryst with the rain gods and the ride of my life-2.jpg
The road i usually take. (Which i took till the Chicane section on that day)

I knew that another half a mile down was my apartment at a higher ground where I and my bike would be safe and I could be warm inside. I turned around to the main road, travelled two Kilometers to the next diversion in the road which led to my place and to my horror this road was also under knee deep water with traffic trundling at a walking pace.
My Duke, my tryst with the rain gods and the ride of my life-1.jpg
The route that i finally ended up taking that day.

I might have bid goodbye to my bike that day; But we were to live through much more. Since we were at walking pace, I depressed my clutch, gunned to the redline and rolled forward with my feet. Twenty minutes doing this to cross a Kilometer and half, we finally reached higher group where water was not stagnated. I raced home to find complete blackout there as well. A chill ran down my spine imagining the damage my bike would have suffered, I tilted the bike to drain out any possible water accumulation in the underbelly exhaust. There was a phone signal available in the 4th floor. One call to my family telling I was alive and well and I switched off the phone. A good move considering that a phone signal was absent in that locality for the next one week or so. The cloud cover over us made sure that this was indeed the darkest of nights we had seen in time.

Last edited by GTO : 21st March 2016 at 09:39. Reason: Spacing :)
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Old 18th March 2016, 16:10   #3
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Default My Duke, My tryst with the rain gods and the ride of (for) my life. (3)

2nd December 2015 : Isolated in the Waterworld. Our Kevin Costner moment

Sitting pretty on the 4th floor, one surely is safe from the worries the people closer to the ground, but that night I could not sleep as the thinking of my bike all the while hoping the rains would leave us the next day. Before daybreak I went downstairs and started the bike once to verify she was fine. As daylight broke, I went to the balcony for an eagle eye view and the sight mortified us. The river where we had assumed the water would drain to had swelled and reached a height around 10 ft downslope from our apartments. The cars which were parked there were now with their tyres under water. I dreadfully watched the water rise up the slope gobble one car after another. Over the rest of the day, it kept on swallowing one car after another. We had set our benchmark as a Xylo. As tiny Swifts and Indicas next to it would be blinking away their indicators as the water touched the wiring and shorted them, this Xylo stood unwavering. This was our hero car. We kept tracing the rise of water across the sides of this car as the day progressed and at the end of the day. At the end of the day, we had barely noticed that we had not eaten even once but had noticed that now only the roof of the Xylo appeared, shine under the grimy water that covered it.

My Duke, my tryst with the rain gods and the ride of my life-img_20151202_120604.jpg
The birds eye view from that day. That white roof you see is our Hero Car.
Picture courtesy : Some unknown neighbour.

Sitting atop our island as the houses around ours (Further downslope) were fully submerged, Cut off on all sides from the roads, We were not sure if we should be elated on our survival and safety of our vehicles or be depressed and scared about the uncertain future. As rain clouds continued ignoring us and moving southwards, we were not sure how many more could have been affected. The modes of transport we saw that day were the rescue boats which came around 5 times that day and handed over relief packages and helicopters coming to airlift people out.

Last edited by rohitoasis : 20th March 2016 at 10:43.
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Old 18th March 2016, 16:15   #4
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Default My Duke, My tryst with the rain gods and the ride of (for) my life. (4)

3rd December 2015 : The short lived terror.

This night was as dark and sleepless as the previous one. At day break I woke up to The water was creeping up our apartment which was at a higher ground. We raced down stairs armed with polythene bags and cellophane tapes to protect our bikes. We tried covering our exhausts with these bags and were fairly successful in the CBZ, but failed miserably in the bulky exhausts of our FZ and Duke. The simplest solution we saw is just applying tape over the exhaust orifices and pray it held. It was a delight to see the ingenuity of few guys around who used Jacks to lift their i20, Others taping the shutlines. We could still see lights blinking in submerged cars around our apartment from the vantage point at the roof.

My Duke, my tryst with the rain gods and the ride of my life-img_20151202_110834.jpg
The Street outside
Picture courtesy : The same unknown neighbour.

The water kept rising for the rest of the day till it crossed the sidewall height of my rear tyre and reached the rim and stabilized at that height.

My Duke, my tryst with the rain gods and the ride of my life-img_20151202_114957.jpg
My Duke, my tryst with the rain gods and the ride of my life-img_20151202_115004.jpg
The compound of the apartment
Picture courtesy : The same unknown neighbour.

As it started falling, we waded through the knee level water with engine oil and coolant fluid turning the water into the ugliest shade of green and brown. With the ATM machines down, I was lucky I had taken cash a few days back and we stocked up our essentials. The rain gods gave us a break that day. The mobile signals kept eluding us as well. With access to the main road still not possible on wheels, we spent the rest of the day inside. This day also left a deep impression on us when a neighbor who worked at the Ford factory in Maraimalai Nagar triumphantly returned after having started on 1st of December. He described to us how, on his return journey on 1st December, his car had stopped in the traffic which was slowly engulfed in the water where it got stuck for over 24 hours. Once it was towed safely out of the highway, he returned to the factory where the workers were also waiting unable to travel home. After over 60 odd hours from when he started from office on 1st, he finally reached home.

Last edited by rohitoasis : 20th March 2016 at 11:00.
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Old 18th March 2016, 16:17   #5
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Default My Duke, My tryst with the rain gods and the ride of (for) my life. (5)

4th Decembers 2015: The Getaway.

We woke up at daybreak with sun shining on our faces. A glimmer of hope. View from the rooftop suggested that traffic had now resumed in the main road. Heading to the main road we saw the mass exodus of people out of the city. We went to the office once to verify the extent of damage and as expected, they had sustained heavy damage and estimated that they could operate probably 1 week later. With mobile range not available in a 4 Kilometre radius that I explored, I had the following decisions to take.

1) I had to travel to Pune on Sunday. Do I wait in Chennai till Sunday, hoping that the airport starts operating? From my experience on 16th November my mind said that was wrong.
2) If I plan to leave, should I try to take a public transport or carpool with someone?
3) Should I go to a nearer city like Bangalore or go full hog to my hometown in Kerala?

10:00 AM: What I decided in the next 20 minutes might not be the wisest decisions I ever made. I took my jacket, helmet, packed few days clothes in my laptop bag, prayed to the gods I knew to guard me over any obstacles I would see. I turned the ignition on by bike and rolled off into the unknown. Could it have been the near starvation of the last two days or the exhilaration of seeing the roads empty or plain adrenaline, I can still not comprehend.

As I reached Porur signal, 5 kilometers away, I had decided that I go all they way till Kerala. Doubts and fear crept over me. The longest I had ridden till that moment was 320 Kilometers in a day and I was planning to attempt 570 Kilometers. The area around signal was flooded right up to the exhaust. Would it affect I was not sure. Used the same strategy as 3 days ago gunning my accelerator.

I headed out to the Bangalore highway and it was just a layer of crumbling asphalt on dust. By the time i reached Kancheepuram i was getting jittery. Fearing a tumble, I realized that it would be unsafe to ride alone. There were a whole lot of cars heading outwards. Spotting a Kerala registered XUV, I stop by him and ask if he could stick with me and maintain my possible speed limit of 80-100. The nice gentleman who was headed to Kannur obliged and I maintained a constant speed and would act as spotter for bad spots on road ahead of him for another 30 odd Km. As traffic built up we got separated. I hoped I could thank him for the company. I waited at the next signal for nearly 15 minutes. Fearing reaching home late, i decided to start soon. Happened to see another rider on his R15, whom I gathered to be on the way to Hosur. I requested him to ride together. We did have a pit-stop in between at a Café Coffee day for a Black coffee for me to battle the sleepiness. Over the coffee came to know he was a college kid and their college had given an extended holiday till Mid of December and all students were happy to Oblige. We followed a formation ride till Krishnagiri where we split after a mutual thanks.

Another few Kilometers down, I was looking for another vehicle to give me company and found another rider in his R15. On his way to Erode I had his company till a little beyond Salem. He looked like a seasoned rider. This guy was a joy to ride along how he maintained formation throughout the ride. My fatigue started showing somewhere along the mountainous section between Krishnagiri and Salem. I would lose focus in riding and overcook the corners in this fantastic section of the road, always a gear higher than what it should have been. My gracious riding partner, this gentleman; thankfully recognized this situation and offered to take a pit-stop to clear the mind. We stopped for bio break and refill somewhere before Salem and washed the grime off the visors which by now was a graveyard for insects. The gap between the headlight and the number plate too had tried to swallow 2 dragonflies which i carefully extricated out and washed the spot. An energy drink later we hopped on to the seat and continued on.

After splitting up with him. It was a lonely ride for another hour or so till a familiar sight appeared next to me in the inside lane. It happened to be the same guy in the XUV who had accompanied me briefly in the first leg. We nodded a thanks to each other and he sped on to his destination. From thereon it was me riding alone all the way down. Somewhere before Avinashi around 4 PM, I was stopped by a cop and on seeing proper paperwork he inquired why I was riding with the lights on? I tried to explain that I was tired after my escape from Chennai and was hoping it would aid visibility in case I have a tumble, upon which I was allowed to leave.
For majority of the distance, the roads thankfully were fantastic for riding, No sooner was I thanking the agencies for the conditions of the road, did I arrive at the famed L&T Bypass in Coimbatore beyond which my journey turned to hell till I crossed the Tamilnadu Border. Beyond Madukarai, the road work (The 4 laning exercise which i hope they complete at least by May) made sure that the visibility with the visor was close to Zero. As I opened the visor, something flew right into my eye making it water severely. It was just pure will to reach the house that pushed me on for the rest of the distance.

Around 7 at night after nearly 9 hours on the road, I arrived at the gate of my house. Took a minute, silently admired by bike still spewing heat from the inside the Trellis frame. For all the worries plaguing my mind throughout this journey, Never did my bike waver a bit or offer me a trouble. True Definition of Soulmate i guess. Had to take a photograph to commemorate the moment. Switched on my mobile after the last three days and shot this.

My Duke, my tryst with the rain gods and the ride of my life-img_20151204_184901.jpg
My Duke, my tryst with the rain gods and the ride of my life-img_20151204_184909.jpg
Finally pics from my mobile

Last edited by rohitoasis : 20th March 2016 at 11:01.
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Old 18th March 2016, 16:19   #6
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Default My Duke, My tryst with the rain gods and the ride of (for) my life. (6)

Afterthoughts.


Throughout this journey I had not informed my family about taking the bike on the road. After taking the photo above, I called them on phone and informed that i had come a bit out of Chennai to get a mobile signal. They were in fact worried to the core for the past three days because of the mobile connectivity and queried where i was and how far away from the flooding. I asked them to come over to the Gate. The look of elation to see me in one piece was a priceless moment. As I parked my bike inside, I thanked the Duke for keeping up with me for the journey in-spite of the rough conditions a of the past few days. The next day I took her to the KTM service station and gave it a thorough wash and a lube job. Only after i was sure she was OK did I call up with the doctor and asked for a prescription of painkillers.


I look back at that journey with no proper riding jacket, no gloves and feel it was not the best of the ideas. Few friends who rode at the same time to Bangalore sustained slides. All this compounded my worries of riding the bike back.


The bike still lies at my house. Walking daily to office helps me maintain my weight, but on hearing the familiar rorty exhaust when someone crosses me riding a KTM, I do miss riding my bike very much. Compensating days in office for the days of absence ensured that I could never have a weekend long enough to bring it back yet. I happen to photo document most of events in my life, but the fading battery on this day makes this ride an exception. It exists forever only in my memory. As i recall this journey, I also give a thought to those riders and drivers whom i met by Chance and may never meet again in future.

"Was this journey worth it?", some people ask.

For the look of relief and elation i saw in my family's face that day, i have to say; Yes.

I am hoping somewhere in the coming months I tag along with a group of riders and ride all the way back.

At the same time have to get a set of riding gear delivered at home before the journey back. If anyone can suggest websites and brands which I can get delivered in Palakkad, Kerala, it would be really helpful.

Also welcome are company of riders with suggestions on suitable weekend to ride back.

This is the first time i have penned down my memories. I fear it might be up to the mark. Going forward i wish to have more journeys to document more comprehensively in this forum. I wish to thank for your patient read.

Last edited by rohitoasis : 19th March 2016 at 14:05.
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Old 21st March 2016, 09:39   #7
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Motorcycle Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 21st March 2016, 15:25   #8
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Eye watering recollection of the events. It feels genuinely terrifying to even imagine how bad things were for the people of chennai.

You sir are a brave soul. And reacted with good judgement

And by the way, as far as I know, any vehicle will be fine unless the intake of it drowns into water. Any vehicle can take water till that level for brief periods of time. Extended periods, you will need to replace engine oil, coolant etc. Electrics might be gone. You have to take chances with them. But engine is robust and survive unless water seeps into the intake.

Did your "check engine light" come on at the end of the journey or was it always there
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Old 21st March 2016, 16:27   #9
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Eye watering recollection of the events. It feels genuinely terrifying to even imagine how bad things were for the people of chennai.

You sir are a brave soul. And reacted with good judgement

And by the way, as far as I know, any vehicle will be fine unless the intake of it drowns into water. Any vehicle can take water till that level for brief periods of time. Extended periods, you will need to replace engine oil, coolant etc. Electrics might be gone. You have to take chances with them. But engine is robust and survive unless water seeps into the intake.

Did your "check engine light" come on at the end of the journey or was it always there
Thank you for your kind words. Your query on check engine light did get me thinking. I am fairly certain it does appear always in Power on Mode (As soon as we switch on Engine Kill Switch) just before you start the bike.


Will be at home this Easter weekend. Will recheck this and tell you. This long weekend i plan to spend sometime on the saddle riding the twistier sections in my native place.
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Old 21st March 2016, 17:31   #10
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Did your "check engine light" come on at the end of the journey or was it always there
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I am fairly certain it does appear always in Power on Mode (As soon as we switch on Engine Kill Switch) just before you start the bike..
The Check Engine light is always on when you turn on the ignition. Once you fire up the engine it goes away.

Rohit, very touching recounting of events. With regards to gear, I guess you have Spartan in Chennai who make riding jackets, pants, gloves and touring boots. You can have a look, try them on for size and then either carry it along with you on your journey home or get it shipped for a fee from the store to you house address. They make some pretty decent gear and I have their riding jacket, pants and gloves for nearly 2 years now and have used it over 8500kms of touring. They have held up well and have not seen any wear and tear over these many number of kms. You can also have a look at the riding gear thread for the reviews and options available for you. All the best !
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Old 21st March 2016, 17:46   #11
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Guess you are now officially married "Man and Machine". The memory of the circumstances and the faithfulness of the machine will last for a life time and bring a smile to your face each time you think of it. I once had the pleasure of a Duke's company from Trichy to Thanjavur on the stellar highway that connects the cities. The way the rider kept pace at 120+ all the way through made me really go wow at the machine and the rider. I was driving an SX4.

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Old 21st March 2016, 18:36   #12
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Hello rohitoasis! A really touching story, one which truly shows the passion you have for riding. I can really see the love you have for your ride; you don't have to spell it out, it shows in the way you write

I had moved to Bangalore a couple of months before the floods. My parents and grandparents stay in Chennai, and luckily their area was not water-logged. But a few of my friends had water flooding right into their houses and suffered a lot of damage. Hope you get back to riding your KTM soon.

As for weight loss, fast walking really helps. And try cycling too

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Old 21st March 2016, 19:28   #13
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The Check Engine light is always on when you turn on the ignition. Once you fire up the engine it goes away.

Rohit, very touching recounting of events. With regards to gear, I guess you have Spartan in Chennai who make riding jackets, pants, gloves and touring boots.
Thank you sir. I appreciate your inputs. Will stop by at Spartan and check it out for sure. Had heard of it a while back. Isn't the store somewhere in the East Coast road.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Venkatesh.C View Post
Guess you are now officially married "Man and Machine". The memory of the circumstances and the faithfulness of the machine will last for a life time and bring a smile to your face each time you think of it. I once had the pleasure of a Duke's company from Trichy to Thanjavur on the stellar highway that connects the cities. The way the rider kept pace at 120+ all the way through made me really go wow at the machine and the rider. I was driving an SX4.
Wow, This first sentence of yours is something i am going to bookmark.

I have touched its top speed only once before in the Dindivanam Pondicherry road, but guys in my riding group used to do that occasionally in their rides. It sure has a very giving heart and can surprise quite a few powerful cars.

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Hello rohitoasis! A really touching story, one which truly shows the passion you have for riding. I can really see the love you have for your ride; you don't have to spell it out, it shows in the way you write

I had moved to Bangalore a couple of months before the floods. My parents and grandparents stay in Chennai, and luckily their area was not water-logged. But a few of my friends had water flooding right into their houses and suffered a lot of damage. Hope you get back to riding your KTM soon.

As for weight loss, fast walking really helps. And try cycling too
Thank you sir. For me, my bike is the perfect all-rounder. A hoot in the city with its telepathic handling and an stunning acceleration, a decent tourer for normal Indian roads. I sure hope to be back on it soon enough. Just wanting a safe and well planned journey back.

I hope all your friends have now restored normal lives. Our street still has some affected cars as a reminder of the event, but most of my friends have got their cars sorted out.
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Old 21st March 2016, 19:38   #14
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rohitoasis,

The painful events have been very well captured here. Well written mate! I am sorry to hear the hardships the Chennai folks had to go through. Great courage on your part to have ridden to Palakkad without proper riding gear. I am aware of those stretches you spoke about since I drive to Palakkad often. I am glad you made it through finally.

The man and the machine - dangerous but well played!
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Old 21st March 2016, 21:31   #15
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Originally Posted by sudeepg View Post
rohitoasis,

The painful events have been very well captured here. Well written mate! I am sorry to hear the hardships the Chennai folks had to go through. Great courage on your part to have ridden to Palakkad without proper riding gear. I am aware of those stretches you spoke about since I drive to Palakkad often. I am glad you made it through finally.

The man and the machine - dangerous but well played!
Thank you for your kind words. I am extra cautious usually and was hesitant for to take this ride. Plan to have a return ride with the ride gear.
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