Sunday, December 19, 2004

Day 2 - Nellore to Chilakalurpet

This is Day 2 - December 18th, 2004.

I expect to reach Guntur today, which I've estimated is around 220 KM from Nellore.

I wake up at 3:15 AM - today is going to be a long day, so better to start early!

I have a slight pain in the right leg... but I get going by 4:00. This time I am wearing my shoes. The town roads are bad. Due to the shake, my bag has already fallen twice (a single cord is holding the bag to the carriage). The road god (NH5) comes to my rescue soon and my bag sits stably - not for long, though! In the highway also the bag starts behaving in the same way. I turn around the bag, hoping that the new vaastu will help me - and it does!

Driving with lights in the morning is just OK; the lighting itself is not always enough. Visibility is normally a few meters. All of a sudden, I detect a sand dune on the road (dumped for some construction). Too late ! I ram into it, but nothing happens - it's sand after all !

My next target is Kavali. An hour later, I stop for tea. I am not happy at all. I have covered only 12kms till now. I decide to quicken my pace for Kavali still is 43 KMS away. There is a heavy fog and visibility is not even 100m at most places. I manage to reach Kavali by 7:30 and promptly say bhojanam kavali (I want food). I have a hearty breakfast - 3 poories, 3 idlies and coffee. The dhabawallah knows a bit of hindi - enough to enquire about my profession. I tell him that I am a software engineer and he immediately asks me about my salary. I prompty reply back with the old saying ask not a man his salary, nor a woman her age. However, he remains persistent, and asks sheepishly 15k?? I reply back that it is much more. Then I wonder whether this is the reason Chandrababu Naidu lost his job... 8 o'clock and time to leave. The sun, which till now was desperately trying to break the veil of fog finally has succeeded.

Continuing from Kavali, I make slow & steady progress (that really means slow progress!). My observation is that my speed has reduced for reasons unknown. A mild pain has started on the right knee and the left shin. That doesn't deter me and I keep continuing.

Along the road, the enterprising people are cultivating many crops - among them I manage to recognize gooseberry trees (and specifically bombai nelly).

I sense somebody approaching me and to my right I find the rear end of an autorickshaw. The auto is being driven in the opposite direction, with two customers at the back! All of us smile at one another.

I also notice a cycle with a pillion - the guy sitting behind has a bow with two strings. He is using it to shoot birds. I don't see him succeed in two tries. These guys have decided to race me - but they know neither about me nor my cycle. Soon they realize that it is a hopeless task and wisely give up!

The road worsens after some time and I decide it is time for a break. A tea and a few snaps later, I continue. The bad roads continue till sometime after Singarayakonda. The arrival of good roads is signalled by a toll booth (this is the first one I have seen today - compared to many yesterday). A short while later, two oranges and an apple disappear into the bottomless pit that my stomach has become. I manage to continue till Valluru (has a temple, some place to stay, etc) and stop there for bhojanam at 12:10.

Ongole is still 10+ kms away. Estimates are that Guntur is still 100 to 110 kms away. I am peeved by the differences between the distances shown on the NH arches and on the milestones. Lunch is good. I chat over lunch with a chap who can talk hindi.

After lunch, I quickly reach Onglole cross. The road is mostly good after this. However, nobody seems to have a clearcut idea of how far Guntur is, including the truck drivers! As an added disadvantage, there are no milestones at kilometer-intervals. I stop by a dhaba and drink some excellent tea (the dhaba owner is a punjabi). My chat with the dhaba customers (lorry drivers, who else?) is centered around my journey. My progress after this is slow. I (re)realize that looking at the speedo/odometers has slackened my pace. My solution is to select a nice gear and pedal without looking at the odometer. The results are visible after sometime - I have made good progress. At Medumarmetla, I get a shock - a milestone reading "Guntur - 83" ! It is 3:15 PM already and 83 kms will take atleast 6 hours. So my chances of reaching Guntur are practically zero! One option is to stop at Chilakalurpet, a town approximately 40 kms away. A tea stop gives me enough time to mull over the issue. I have finally decided to stop at Chilakalurpet. Guntur will have to wait till tomorrow...

It is only 4:15 PM now and with just 35 kms to go, I am sitting pretty - what's the need of haste, anyway? A passerby cyclist (Mr Hanumanth Rao) does me a favour and snaps a good photo of me and my cycle. I reason that the intutive ease of use of the digital camera has helped him shoot me so well.

One more dhaba and one more tea + one roti(no daal). Sunlight is fading fast and I am cursing my laziness. At 6:15 or so it is almost dark and my headlight springs to action.

Incident of the day: At 6:45, I see that a large vehicle has honked repeatedly and stops to the left; I also vaguely hear my name. I pay no heed and go on - the same thing happens again. This time, I have recognized that it is a VRL truck and the driver is Sharanappa, whom I met yesterday! We have a joyous meeting. We celebrate with tea and cakes - the VRL sides plays host. They were on their way to Vijayawada and were on the lookout for me. Just when they thought that I was too fast, they had seen me, and hence it was that we met. There is one more loory driver around who claims to have seen me in the morning near Nellore. The local drunkards helped us with a few snaps - the VRL vehicle, my cycle and the three of us (forgot to mention Basavaraj). I have noted down their address and I intend to send them a copy of the snaps. Our meeting lasts half an hour. Sharanappa tells me that he will try to get a Vizag parcel next and hopefully we'd meet again!

Half an hour later, I arrive at Chilakalurpet. Almost immediately, I settle down in Hotel Kalyani. The owner is a nice man - he instructs the guard to take special care of my cycle. The manager (Kumar)is also extremely co-operative and gets half a bucket of water almost immediately. We have a small chit-chat, as usual. The room is nothing to talk home about but the welcome I got was the best in any lodge.

On the manager's reccomedation, I went a hotel and had biriyani. I shopped for oranges. An internet center nearby attracted me but I was too tired. After demoing my cycle to a few onlookers, I was back in the hotel. I entrusted my cycle to the guard, went to my room and finished writing this blog!

I know - the question most of you are waiting to ask is: How are my legs?

The answer is that it doesn't matter that there is pain; as long as I manage it properly, there is no harm done! Here is one of the best quotes that would hopefully explain my position: Pain is temporary - Quitting is permanent [Leander Paes].

My plan for tomorrow is to see Amaravati and Vijayawada. Not much cycling - around 100 kms...

Here is a short summary for the day:
Time Odometer Place/Purpose
4:05 AM 9768.0 Nellore
5:35-5:40 9785.2 Tea Break
6:30 9800.0
7:30-8:00 9814.3 Kavali/Breakfast
8:45 9826
9:20-9:30 9835 Fruit break
10:25-10:35 9848.7 Tea break
10:45 9850.6 Singarayakonda
11:10 9856.2 Tollway ahoy!
11:35 9861.1 Oranges+apples
12:10-1:00 PM 9867.9 Valluru/Lunch
1:20 9874.5 Ongole (cross)
2:45-2:50 9895.9 Tea at dhaba
3:15 9900.0 Medarmetla
3:45-4:10 9906.3 Tea time
5:40 9921.1 Dhaba stop
6:15 9927.4 Martur
6:40-5:15 9932 VRL re-union!
7:30 9973 Chilakaluripet

So I have covered around 190 kms today (accounting for my meters underestimate).

Asleep at 10:00 PM!


Blogger sHs said...

Just Great..
I liked the sharanappa's incident...
you should be feeling really good after listening to them, that they were looking out for you.

9:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Shree,

Nice to c ur photos.
But I am awaiting for wheelly one!

Nice that u r maitaining blog neatly.
Any way keep us informed.

Will read ur blog leisurely,sakkatagide!!

Have u carried GPS set with u?,if not there is always scope for improvement (procsys term!)

10:55 AM  
Blogger Ranju said...

Hi shreekumar!

i never believed it when one our common friend's, Raghava, told me about you. How can anyone be so interestingly crazy? But then he passed on this blog address to me. And believe me... its absolutely fantastic!
Its a wonderful experience reading your blog. I wonder how you get the energy to ride for so long continouosly. Moreover, what do you think of when you are riding? all alone? left only with the company of your own conscience... life? politics? your past? friends? what exactly do you think about?
It makes me jelous when i think that you get to see so many places. Anyway, atleast i can experience these places through your postings here... keep up the good work.
AND ENJOY ( i know you must be enjoying thoroughly...)

All the best

6:34 PM  

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