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Old 4th October 2016, 12:27   #1
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Default From a broken leg to a bike trip: With 3 motorcycles to Valparai

It all began last year. Life was just going on. Nothing exciting was happening and I was pretty busy at work, doing overtime while trying desperately to meet some idiotic deadlines. Friends were relegated to the background with only occasional phonecalls and once in a bluemoon dineouts, family was pretty much ignored and taken for granted. And I thought that I was doing great.

And then, it happened.

I fell down from the stairs and broke the fibula on my right leg. Everything went for a toss in a spit second. I was in excruciating pain and was rushed to the hospital. Having never been experienced the pain of any broken bone till then, I was literally in tears. And adding to the pain, the required surgeon took a couple of hours to attend me since he had many more serious cases to attend to. Meanwhile the broken leg was kept wrapped tight in icepack and I was given some painkillers, but even then it felt horrible.

Then they did the surgery - for the first time in my life I got to see an operating room 'live' - they were all real friendly there and I tried to relax. I was given a spinal anesthesia and I went to a deep slumber. They made me wake up right after the surgery and showed me my leg before and after - the 'after' X Ray showed multiple nails and a steel plate attached to my lower shinbone - enough to scare me to another coma.

Anyway, I woke up the next morning unable to move an inch. The doctor came and explained that they did an open reduction (ORIF) on my leg and I was told not to move from bed. After spending a fortnight there, they finally put a plastercast on my leg and allowed me to go home with the strict instruction not to put my injured leg on the floor for the next 45 days.

After the Surgery
From a broken leg to a bike trip: With 3 motorcycles to Valparai-nirz8568.jpg


I could have continued working from home - but decided against it. The leg was in pain and the plaster-cast was way too uncomfortable. I never had a broken bone till then, so the experience was all too new and it was like being condemned to some sort of imprisonment.

So I had 24 long hours to kill everyday. I spent the first few days at home feeling really lonesome and bored. The sympathies of the dear ones slowly waned and they came into terms with me lying on my bed all the times. Only my dog was pretty much frustrated for not taking him out for the usual walks. I ate well, slept well during the daytime and spent long sleepless nights staring at the ceiling fan.

At Home With Nothing to Do
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Last edited by Rehaan : 18th October 2016 at 15:34. Reason: Combining posts :)
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Old 16th October 2016, 14:22   #2
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One day, one of my friends came and asked whether I needed anything - I asked him to shave off my hair, I always wanted to do that but the prospect of everyone staring at my shiny head had put me off till then. There I had the chance, I was not going out for a long time, had plenty of time to get the hair grown back before anyone stares at me. That evening while bringing me dinner my mum had the shock of her life looking at me grinning at her like Dr. Evil in wheelchair from the Austin Powers movie.

After striking one off from the Bucket List by getting a shaved head, I began to think - what next? Having accomplished pretty much nothing in life till then, the list was pretty long. And being confined to the wheelchair the options were pretty dismal too - no climbing Everest, Mont Blanc or Meru. So I pretty much resigned myself to watching films off the IMDB list. And after a while that too became boring.

Then one fine day it happened. I had to visit the doctor occasionally and my friends used to come and drive me to the hospital. One day while bringing me to see Mr. Doc, my friend asked me whiling driving my 2011 Polo, " Hey, when are you going to change your car?"

Honestly, it never occurred to me till then that someday I would need to change my car. I was never a grease monkey, I never got excited hearing the exhaust note. I used my car to travel, not for experiencing the thrill of driving. And I thought I would use my Polo till it breaks down at some point. That night, lying sleeplessly on my bed a new thought occupied my head - a new car!

I have lived a major part of my life in Austria and Germany and for me, my car had to be a German - no reasoning or logic behind it, it is there like a preference for Weizenbier or Hefeweizen and Bratwurst. Or akin to the total disregard for Bayern Munich being a staunch Borussia Dortmund fan - You just cannot pinpoint that to anything specific.

And given my financial standing and being in India, the choices I had were pretty much limited, it has to be a VW and that again a Polo. This time it could be a 1.5 Diesel - I thought again and again, read Team Bhp and fixed my mind on it. I would sell my 2011 Polo and buy a new one. So I phoned one of my friends and asked him to get me one for test drive when I get the plastercast off my leg. Days passed and the plastercast was removed. I saw my right leg again after two months time - It was swollen, misshapen and red.

Meanwhile, the doctor had asked me to walk again - seeing me so comfortable in wheelchair I suspect he might have thought that I was content spending the rest of my life on it. So it was away with the wheel chair and in with the elbow crutch and the next thing I did was to phone that VW sales guy to bring a Polo for test drive so as to get my family's approval.


Plaster Cast Removed
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Knowing that I was in the lookout for a new car, my friends started bringing me some auto magazines and soon it began to pile up in my room. One day my uncle came visiting me and saw my new found interest and asked out of the blue - "Want my Enfield??" I was like , "What?" I had never ever thought of owning an Enfield till that day. I said, "No!"

My leg is a mess and this is one bike someone with a steel plate in leg would not even dare to own.

Even now I dont know what made him offer his bike to me, perhaps he wanted me to get well soon by giving me something that motivated me positively. I dont know, but from the next day, this was before my house.


The Gifted 'BULL' I Cant Ride
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Last edited by Rehaan : 18th October 2016 at 15:37.
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Old 16th October 2016, 21:32   #3
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Then the VW sales guy called me and told me that he found someone to buy my car and the next day he would come to get it. But instead of bringing a Polo TDI for test drive, he came in a Jetta demo car. Polo demo car was somewhere else and he took the only test drive car to come to me to take my Polo away to her new home.

And then the twist happened. My mum very very uncharacteristically came out to check out our 'new' car. She was mighty impressed that finally we are buying a 'real' deal with a boot - not some pretentious car like thing with its rear chopped off. She asked the sales guy in total nonchalance, "Mone, (son) when are we getting our own car? I don't like brown, but bring only black ."

Hearing that I got a small heart attack and the sales guy the pleasant surprise of his life. I think he might have got a week's leave afterwards - he came to sell a 8 lakhs car and instead sold us a 20 lakh+ one!

I loved the Jetta especially in its new avatar. But never had I thought of owning one - the thought never even came to my mind till then. Then I reasoned - I would be definitely keeping this car for at least 7-8 years - so settle for some thing good!

The Last Picture of my Polo - in the Background

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After a couple of weeks waiting finally the Jetta came in.
The New Black Jet

From a broken leg to a bike trip: With 3 motorcycles to Valparai-img_0496.jpg

And when the new car came, I wanted a new bike along with that. The Electra was good and was not ridden much, but the chrome was rusting in many places and I generally don't like owning second hand things even when they are gifted. So I sold off the Electra I got from my uncle and brought home a new Classic 350 chestnut red.

So I became the proud owner of a brand new car and a brand new bike - and I still wasn't able to drive or ride anything due to my leg.


The New Classic 350

The Seats were originally biege, changed that to black the very day the got the bike
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Old 16th October 2016, 22:00   #4
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So I had the bike and the car I never thought of owning - all because of a broken leg and the vagaries of my idle brain. Meanwhile a couple of my best buddies too joined the Royal Enfield bandwagon and the talks invariably led to bike trips and exotic destinations. All were tied up with their work and the best they could do with was three days utmost. I was totally free for any number of days since I was by then officially 'jobless' but then my physical condition was not that great. Taking into account all these constraints we decided that it should be a short leisurely trip through good roads and must not at all be physically demanding. None of us were avid bikers but just plain Joes who just wanted to experience some thrill of riding the Bull.

After reading so much about Valparai and the scenic Athirampilly route via Sholayar, we decided that it ought to be Valparai. I was a tiny bit worried about going on a bike trip with an injured leg, but then I thought - it is going to be just a leisurely ride through the forest with almost no traffic, I will never exceed 40 kmph, and some trusted friends are there with me and there isn't much scope for worrying. I told at home that I will be going to Valparai with my friends but never did I mention that I will be riding the Bullet all the way up there!

My mother would have roasted me had she known what we were upto!! But to my surprise she was pretty much excited herself that I was going there since she spent a bulk of her childhood there since my grandfather used to work there in some tea factory. So having done the groundwork and got my friends leaves sanctioned we booked the stay via Ibibo. Got two tents in Monica Garden Bungalow for some pretty good rates. Ideally I would have preferred staying in the Bungalow itself but the rooms there were long sold out.

So, three bikes and four persons were fixed. We decided to meet up at 5:30 before Decathlon at Premier Junction, Kalamassery. The D Day came and true to the great Indian tradition everyone came 15-20 mnts late. We filled up near the IOC Outlet on the way and our journey started.

Disclaimer : Am not in any of the following photos/ my photos are in friend's cams :(

The Journey Starts Finally!!!

rendezvous before Decathlon at 5:45 AM
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Filled the Tanks to the Brim
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All clear to Go!!!
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It was nice riding the bike with the early morning cool breeze on the face whilst cruising along the vacant roads. We quickly covered the 40 kms distance to Chalakudy which is near the Athirapilly waterfalls. The roads were in real good condition and being early morning there was practically no one on the roads other than us. We stopped at a small tea shop near the Silver Storm Water theme park to have the breakfast since we knew that once we enter the Athirapilly - Vazhachal area there wont be any place to dine.

It was a pretty basic tea shop and the food was bad. But since we were in such good spirits and were pretty much excited about the coming jungle route, nobody didn't mind it that much.


Our First Pit Stop : Breakfast near Athirapilly Waterfalls
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Looks good in picture/ but tasted like Rubber
The egg roast which tasted heavenly with Appam in the bygone days is really a rarity now.
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The mighty bull 500 resting
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Old 17th October 2016, 00:03   #5
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By 8:30 am we began the next leg of our trip. The number of man made structures slowly decreased and the nature started taking precedence. After negotiating a few curves we reached Athirappilly waterfalls. Was pretty much surprised to see people filling up the place so early in the morning. Although I lived only about 50 kms away, it was a long time since I came this way. And the changes were truly disturbing. We used to come here when we were in the school - some 15 years ago and Athirappilly was during those time a really secluded place having only a couple of shops and all. Now it has become another Munnar with a lot of crowd all the time.
At Athirappilly
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Anyways, we proceeded further, reached Vazhachal, entered our details at the forest check post and started riding into the dark gloominess of the rainforest.

Before Vazhchal Checkpost
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After covering a short distance I saw a church in the middle of a clearing. Pointing that to my friend who was riding beside me, I caught the edge of the tarred road, got off balance and fell down. Nothing dramatic happened since I was doing some 10 kmph. But it made us all stop for a while.

The Place Where I Slipped
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And it was then we saw a Dezire packed with some 4-5 persons zoom past us... and little did we know that we would see them again real quick in a wholly different scenario

We all remarked casually why on earth are they doing such speeds in this deep jungle since if something comes up unexpectedly there wont be any room to manoeuvre anywhere. The road is pretty narrow and there are trees and thick shrubs lining the road.

Anyway, we started off and after a few meters we came to this sight. Just then, from the other direction a lone KSRTC bus also came and almost all the passengers alighted to see the damage. There wasnt much commotion or arguments - but rather plain resigned sad look on the owner's faces. The swift was coming from the Tamil Nadu area and rammed into the Dezire at a small curve. And the Dezire had no room to evade. The tyre marks of the Swift suggested hard breaking, but without ABS it was just inevitable.

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The driver of the KSRTC bus was really helpful to them and he was telling them about arranging a tow truck from Chalakkudy.
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The Dezire guys were on a trip to Pollachi and the Swift guys were coming back from Valparai - and it was a sad ending to their journeys - Holidays spoilt and vehicles damaged :(

We did not spend much time there since we had 'miles to go before we sleep.'

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Old 17th October 2016, 00:36   #6
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The forest route was a real delight to ride - slow undulating roads, fresh air from the cool breeze, the occasional seeping rays of the sun through the jungle cover - its dreamy to ride through.

And we did not see any wild animals, elephants, leopards or tigers. But heard some peculiar cries of birds - my friend was saying that it was the call of the great indian hornbill. I donno - anyway sounded strange.

And we did stop for a photo shoot in the middle of the forest - afterall it was a ride for the sake of riding and we were not at all in any hurry.
Getting the Tools Out
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Shot of a Shot
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Shot finished
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Old 17th October 2016, 01:10   #7
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After that we did not stop anywhere. Rode slowly some 60 kms through the forest. It was pretty boring and we did not see any wild animals at all on the way. The ride was sort of meditative - all rode without uttering any single word, wary as if not to disturb the peace surrounding us. We did see some bikers coming from the Tamil Nadu side.

After almost 3 hours we crossed the Forest checkpost near Valparai. They asked us why it took us so late to cross the forest and we told them about the accident involving the cars and didnt mention about our photo session

Just after crossing the check post we came to the Tamil Nadu border, there were no one manning their check post. Just a couple of meters into the Tamil Nadu area we came to a T junction and the Google Maps offline did a wonderful job pointing us the right direction towards Rottikadai - Iyerpadi and then further to Monica Garden Bungalow.

Crossed the Forest!!

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Offline Only

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Rest At Last
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All Smiles
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Rest after a Long Ride
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Old 17th October 2016, 01:21   #8
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Valparai was unlike anything I have seen before - there was nothing going on anywhere - pretty much a silent, dreamy place with the ubiquitous tea plantations.

After covering some distance we began to think whether its the right direction we were heading and it was then we saw a car joining the road from the other direction. We asked about the place we were heading and the guy was all smiles when he said, "follow me, am your chef there at Monica Bungalow!"

We followed him. It was plain luck that we found the fellow since we saw the name board bearing the name 'Monica Bungalow' lying in the shrubs near a small pocket road that turned right.

It was then we saw the Bungalow and the tents situtated further back.

The Bungalow

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The Tents - Looks like Army Barrack Tents

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Old 17th October 2016, 09:03   #9
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Thus, with the Chef guiding us the way, we reached our destination for the day. It was almost 1 pm and we were pretty hungry. The care takers asked us whether we had lunch and told us that they could arrange lunch soon. We immediately said 'yes' and went onto to check the tents.

The rooms within the Bungalow were full, but we were alone at the tents. Tents were - just a place to crash with a double bed and a clean bathroom - not a good place for any claustrophobic person. No intercom or anything else to contact the main building either and the staff gave their mobile number for the room (tent) service. :(

Sheets were Clean - But Was there a Moldy Smell Overall??
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There wasn't also much space for sitting or anything and the ventilation wasn't that good either. But what it had was oodles of privacy - it was situated in the farthest corner of the Bungalow and nobody - not even the staff comes there unless we called them through mobile. And there was also a place for campfire too nearby.


The Interior - Pretty Basic if you ask me
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We changed dress and took bath and two of them went to sleep a bit till the lunch came.

Siesta Time

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Some are Hard Core Outdoor Fans
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I called home and informed that we reached safely. Mama was fuming since by then she guessed that I did the entire trip on bike.

The lunch came pretty late - at about 2:30, but it was good and tasty. After lunch we decided to sleep further till evening and go out by 5 pm and dine from somewhere in the Valparai town.

It was a nice drive. We reached the small town before sunset and found a neat place where they served some great ghee roast with coffee.

A true Tamil Nadu Speciality

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Nobody else can make them like Tamilians

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Snacks Aka 'Touchings'

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No We Didnt Buy ANy

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Pretty Agile for the Age

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Old 17th October 2016, 15:07   #10
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No Gro Pro - Just Me with my iPhone







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Old 17th October 2016, 16:01   #11
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I must say that the highlight of the trip for me was not the bike ride through the forest, but rather the pleasant evening well spent with the friends. We just strolled through the tiny town observing the people doing their normal daily work. The local market, though not so big, was really nice to see. The array of local produce was truly impressive and even a bit exotic for us.

Though I understand Tamil a bit I cannot speak the language. And Valparai being a border town almost everyone understood Malayalam pretty well and some of the shopkeepers were even native Keralites.

We had ordered dinner from Hotel Green Hill as take away parcel. Collected that, bought also some snacks and drinks and rode back to our tents.

In the hills it gets dark pretty quick and we lost our way more than once. It wasnt that difficult to find the place, but we were just plain lazy and were in no hurry too.

Before Supper We Did Some More Posing

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Gangsta Chair - Lacked a Tobacco Pipe Though

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One of the staff helped us to arrange a make shift dining place in the small veranda before our tent. The space was premium for the four of us - but it was really nice.

Almost Ready

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After a very very long dinner we got into the tents and retired for the night. Being really tired from the days adventures I slept rather quickly only to wake up hearing strange noises from above. People had warned me about rats in the tents, but I think it was not just rats but rather civets as well.

Well, it wasn't that irritating and I was too tired to bother about it. The other guy who was there with me did not even hear anything when I asked him about the nocturnal parade by the wild things on our tents.


Lazzy Bones
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Old 17th October 2016, 16:35   #12
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Day Two

We woke up pretty late. It was almost 9:30 when we reached the dining area for breakfast. And that took another hour as well - it was a mix of Indian as well as continental spread. Some interesting old Tamil films were running on the TV and we spent the time watching them while having breakfast.

By that time the staff had become real friendly shedding their initial inhibitions. I think by then they had probably realized that we are some easy going lazy bones

We spent the better part of the morning there comfortably forgetting that originally we had planned to go to Aliyar dam. Anyway, the morning ride to dam was discarded and we agreed to head home directly after checking out. The route was the same one we took earlier.

A Moody Morning

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Breakfast

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Bulls-in-Wait

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Reluctant Return

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All Geared Up

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Some More Posing

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We did not stop anywhere on the way back save just one small halt near the Sholayar Dam. Even then it was almost dark when we reached the Vazhachal check post. And it also started to rain a bit.

Short Pause At Sholayar
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Reached Vazhachal
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Old 17th October 2016, 16:52   #13
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We stopped at Athirapilly till the rains ceased. And by then it was real dark. Started the bikes and began the last leg of our trip.

At Chalakkudy we stopped for eating something since we were all hungry having skipped lunch and found quickly a nice road-side shop.

I was more tired than hungry and when it came to ordering dinner we had no clue what to eat - was that tired even to think. So I blurted out Jilebi - great food to have at 9 pm!

Jilebi at Night
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The tea shop guy again came hopeful that we might now order something sane. Still we had no idea what to eat. So he suggested we order Appam and Butter Chicken.

Butter Chicken-on-the-Make

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The owner cum cook Mr. Jagadeesh was super friendly and narrated a lot about his adventures in Tanzania.

Chef At Office
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Appam Came - Where's the Chicken?
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Perfect
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Mr Jagadeesh was a delightful person with lots of interesting stories about his life in Africa. Initially I thought he was bluffing.

So I quizzed him about Ugali, Fufu (some typical African staples) etc and he explained me patiently each of them and many more. I had some African friends during my student days and I was made to eat these things whenever they were celebrating - (and boy! they were always celebrating). So we talked a lot of the life in Central Africa and he had indeed a lot to narrate.

Once upon a time...
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After a refreshing dinner and black tea we parted ways and headed home.

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Old 19th October 2016, 09:43   #14
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!

Last edited by GTO : 19th October 2016 at 09:43. Reason: Bump
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Old 19th October 2016, 13:13   #15
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Default Re: From a broken leg to a bike trip: With 3 motorcycles to Valparai

A fun travelogue I must say.

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Originally Posted by nevinfrancis View Post
That evening while bringing me dinner my mum had the shock of her life looking at me grinning at her like Dr. Evil in wheelchair from the Austin Powers movie.
Kudos!

Quote:
So I sold off the Electra I got from my uncle and brought home a new Classic 350 chestnut red.
Belated congratulations. I remember drooling over this promotional video of the Chestnut Red.


Quote:
I told at home that I will be going to Valparai with my friends but never did I mention that I will be riding the Bullet all the way up there!
Men will be Men!
Though no one in their right mind would tell at home. Did a similar thing once, 400 km bike ride in one day.

All said and done, ride hard and ride safe.
Looking forward to some more travelogues.
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