March 13th, 2011

A Cold Winter Night…..A Lonely Highway…..80Bikes….. 100 Bikers…..

There we were!! Again on the highway, rumbling on our rides, along with friends, on a winter night, ignoring the biting cold, for another grand success, of R0lling Wheels Bikini’s Club, a Motorcycle Touring Club of Kolkata (INDIA) . The plan came up suddenly one morning at our club Adda. ‘Let us have a winter short trip’, that was what was proposed by our members and was unanimously supported almost immediately.


So …. Where to go?? The question loomed for a few minutes in the club room. Almost everyone was thinking for a spot to visit, when suddenly, the name Chandipur came up. There was a little discussion and VOILA!! It was chosen by all!!

Now the date was to be fixed. And so it was, on 21st January – 23rd January (Friday – Sunday). Members started to pour in their names. Krishnenduda (Krish), Bapida, Tirtho, Tanendra, Jeetda, Kedar and I (Pritam) confirmed their participation. Few more members started to manage their planners to attend the trip. All was set. Rolling Wheels was once again on the roll.

The days flew by and the 21st neared sooner than we expected. On 18th I started to call every member one by one, but had to take three bombshells !!

i) Atish could not make it for some official reason.

ii) Suprabhatda and Chanduda would not participate due to some family problem.

iii) Kaushikda (KB), our club President, may not join us, again thanks to official problem.

iv) Souravda could not confirm but was trying every possible way to join us.

Somehow, every one of us felt a sense of loss, for all those who will not join us. We are going to miss our friends a lot.

Finally it was 20th, and was time again to call every one and take the final confirmation. Atish, Suprabhatda and Chanduda confirmed they won’t be able to join, but there was a fresh breeze when I called KB and Souravda. They managed and sorted out their problems and are joining us with a full blast !! Hooooorrayyyy …. That was the reaction of all of us.

The next few hours flew past and it was time to get out on the road. Members arrived one by one at the club, a little after ten. Well… That is not the end of surprises. Rahulda, a long time friend of us, was joining us on this trip. Though he is not a member of RW, it was a pleasure to have him in our midst. This arrangement and Bapida’s answer to the last moment nature’s call made us to start late. Finally our bikes started rolling exactly at 12 o’clock in the night.






The initial few kilometers went eventless. But at the 50th kilometer we had to stop for a cigarette for it was too chilly to go on. After about 15 minutes of cigarette break, we started again. This time Bapida took over the lead on Kedar’s bike with Kedar as pillion. I will tell you a secret here, my friends. Kedar was really lucky to have Bapida in front. He was having a complete protection against the wind gust, thanks to Bapida’s healthy stature. Cannot say for others but, I was really jealous of Kedar at that very moment.

But … jokes apart, we were almost at Kolaghat, which I knew within 30 minutes because, the road was all very jam packed. There was a huge traffic jam starting well before the bridge. The weather was very warm here you know, thanks to all the pollution coming out of the exhausts of the big bore truck engines. We had to find our way through the maze going left and right, between this and that truck. Even, we had to have some on road off-roading since we had to get off the road and ride on the loose soil beside. All along it took almost half an hour to cross the bridge. Speaking for everyone, I think we all could smell the famous hot tea of Sher-E-Punjab, for which we all were craving. Souravda, ever eager, went ahead without stopping at the exit cut-out. We all were surprised !! But … we didn’t have to wait for long. He was back with us within a few minutes. I guess at first he missed the flavour of tea but eventually was caught by it.

Sher-E-Punjab seemed to be waiting for us. The whole parking lot was empty and there wasn’t a single car (FORGET BIKES !!). The employees were quite taken aback seeing us, the crazies, in the middle of a chilly night, on motorcycles, going on a tour !! We had a very warm welcome along with some really hot and creamy tea. Slowly we all regained our strength and became alive with excitement and jokes. The cold seemed to be far far away. After spending almost an hour it was time again for rolling. Next target Kharagpur (night halt).

The 55 km drive was uneventful. But the chilly wind howled around us like a cold blooded beast trying to stop us from achieving our target. Well friends … it failed, no doubt, all thanks to the brave hearts of Rolling Wheels Bikers’ Club, who made the Chandipur trip a success. While on the way to Kharagpur the road suddenly changed its texture from asphalt to concrete. It was time to find a Dhaba for the night halt. We were already at Kharagpur a little later than the projected time. It took us 25 minutes to find out a Dhaba fit enough to accommodate all the riders as well as our rides safely. The first thing we all did after parking our mo’bikes, was to order a hot tea A.S.A.P. The manager of the Dhaba showed his promptness and in no time we were sipping the smoking hot tea made especially for us. It felt heavenly. We settled slowly. KB was first to realise that he was terribly hungry and ordered Anda Bhujiya & Roti. Tirtho and I were next to order the same menu. Bapida ordered Tarka & Roti. Now, the cook was in real problem to maintain his speed. Rahulda, realizing this, went into the kitchen and WOW … He was cooking. Well, nobody knew that he was hiding such a talent within himself, for he really cooks nice. The Anda Bhujiya he prepared was marvellous and was scooped up before he could even think of tasting it. Again the same order went out and this time Kedar helped Rahulda in the kitchen. It seemed a feast was going on and the Dhaba people went dumb seeing our KIRTIs. They merely helped us with small stuffs like bringing the water, spoons, and other accompaniments. Our seemingly insatiable hunger subsided slowly and we all were beaming with a self-satisfac … no sorry STOMACH-SATISFACTION!!



It was 3:30 in the morning and the chill went sky high. We all were shivering to the limit. KB and I went out on the way to take some Light-trail snaps and were instantly hit by the biting wind. But we ignored and went on with our mission. What a night it was, out on the open highway. The sky glittered with the shimmering stars. It was difficult to get Light-trail snaps on NH-60 as traffic is very little on this stretch especially at night. But still we managed to get some snaps after waiting for quite some time. In the mean time, Krish tried to get some sleep. Jeetda was already sleeping after wrapping himself up with all the warm clothing he had. He had a high fever just the previous day, so had to take protection. Kedar was also sleeping tight. Bapida & KB were having a chat. Rahulda was missing. I tried to sleep a bit. But thanks to Rahulda, he was in a very playful mood and within few minutes every sleeping beauty of Rolling Wheels were sitting up. But Rahulda had trouble to wake up Kedar. Finally, after a splash of a glass full of fresh and cold water Kedar was up with a face that of a kid, whose new toy has been taken away and hidden. We all ordered another round of hot tea for the cold was still biting on our skin. The tea came within 10 minutes and was gulped down even faster. We all were so busy with our chatting that we did not notice it was already 5:30 in the morning and though it was still dark, there was just a hint of red in the east. We felt adrenalin rushing through our veins once again. It was almost time to be on our rides.



After freshening up, we had one more round of tea. It was 6 sharp in the morning that our engines started. We were once again on the roll. The sun was pretty reluctant in showing its face. The veil of clouds was finally up at around 7:30. We took a short pit stop to take in all the warmth possible. Quite a photo session went on and we all were really having one hell of a time. Seemed like all the worries and problems of the world were far behind us. Bapida, always immaculate about time started pushing us. We were getting late and he started his famous Chal … chal … chal … chal … Well we started once again and after almost an hour’s ride we were at the Bengal-Orissa border. It was a little congested there and we had to bypass a little traffic. All was going just fine when suddenly disaster struck. At first I was not sure what exactly was happening with my bike. It was behaving oddly. I thought I was riding on a fish. Then it occurred to me that I might have a flat tyre. I had to stop to take a look and yes, it was a flat tyre. The rear tyre of my bike was hit by a puny little cobbler’s nail and it was flat like a piece of paper. The entire team was way ahead of me. Fortunately, there was a puncture repairing shop just on the opposite side of the road. No time to waste or to wait for my team to come back. I took my bike to the shop and waited for the shop owner to come back. He was having his breakfast at a nearby store. In the mean time Bapida and Krish came back looking for me. The entire team was stuck a few kilometres ahead. My bike stood on one wheel as the rear wheel was detached pretty carefully under Bapida’s cautious supervision. The shop owner understood pretty well that it was quite important for us to have the puncture job done carefully for avoiding any similar incidents up ahead. Krish could not wait any longer and went out to have a look for some breakfast. He found a place quickly and while the repairing was being done we 3 had bread and omlette and it felt heavenly for we were quite hungry. It took almost 40 minutes to make sure the bike was ready to roll again. After much appreciation of the shop owner we started again to catch up the team waiting ahead. We three were greeted cheerfully. But after we mentioned our breakfast … well friends guess what happened!!



We started once again. Strangely, the weather changed drastically and it felt quite hot. The ride was becoming a little boring as there was little traffic on the highway. After a 2 hour long journey we were finally nearing Chandipur. We had to take a diversion to get on to a state highway. It went for a few kilometres and from there we had to take another diversion on to a city road. Suddenly it seemed all the people in the world were out on the streets. It was a super congested city road filled with pedestrians, bicycles, rickshaws, autos, cars and a few four legged species as well !! It was almost a 20 kilometres stretch. Finally we could smell the salt in the air and realised that we were at Chandipur. Now it was time for booking a hotel. We went to the OTDC Panthanibash. It was full !! But we didn’t just quit there friends … and finally settled for the banquet hall they had, all thanks to our dear Mr. President KB & Sauravda who had a friendly relation with them due to his previous visits & fluency to Oriya language. The banquet hall was more than large for the 10 of us. Mattresses were set on the floor to sleep on. It was a new experience for every one of us. The welcoming look of the mattresses compelled us to take LYADH … but only for a very short period of time. Lunch was served and we all had to pull ourselves up with a lot of will power against the pressing tiredness. Lunch went smooth and as always the hoteliers were struggling to keep up with our devilish hunger. For almost an hour and a half, we devoured FOOD. And after that, guess … guess … yesss we all went to sleep. Every one of us just had to touch the mattresses and was asleep instantly. Kedar and Bapida started to snore as well. What a deadly DUO !! I guess even a tiger would have thought that there must be a BIGGER TIGER than him inside the room !!



Finally, at around 7 p.m. we woke up slowly and had freshly brewed coffee. That was quite refreshing and we were all coming to our proper form.

“Hey, what about the bonfire that was to be arranged ?” said Jeet.

There was a roar of support. And within minutes the President and the GS had to be out for the arrangements. Meanwhile I went out with my camera to take some night snaps. The Panthanibash has its own beach area. And Ohh … how beautiful it was with the half moon overhead. The white waves could be seen very far though. Water was nowhere near the beach. The wind blew steadily from the sea reminding of the soothing sea-breeze. It was only eight, but seemed like it was 12 already. I took a long walk on the wet sand towards the water. Once out of the light I took a look back at the beach and it seemed I was the only person alive … alone !! I missed my Mom like never before. Sea-beaches have always been her favourite. Looking up at the sky, I felt like Dad was looking from above, hidden in one of the innumerable stars. Ohh … how I missed them both !!



But the memories could not linger for long. My friends were calling me to join them. I started to walk back towards the beach and felt my feet were becoming heavy. Tide was coming in slowly and I had to run. The bonfire site was chosen at the backyard of the hotel. With a lot of trees, the place was magnificent. Timbre was arranged by the hotel management and it was all ready, waiting to be set on fire. Well friends I didn’t know that setting something on fire could be such a troublesome matter. The first attempt was taken by Tirtho and Tanendra (T2) but was a failure. All the paper was wasted in vain to light up the woodpile. The man who brought us the timbre was called and told what the matter was. The wood was not completely dry. We were all very upset for time was running out and there was no fire. Tirtho remained silent for some time and then suddenly jumped out of the chair. PETROL … he shouted at the top of his voice. Before anyone could even react he was running towards the parking place with a bottle in his hands. When he came back he had the bottle filled up almost up to the brim with liquid gold. Again we all were feeling just like children with all the adrenalin rush. This time we were determined that there will be fire by hook or by crook. Petrol was sprinkled all over the piled wood and it was set on fire. The fire caught instantly but died down quickly as well. The petrol burnt out but the wood remained the same. Now Krish was furious with the man who brought us wood. He was still standing silently and watching our efforts go in vain. Once again petrol was poured and again it was lit. But this time I took the bottle of petrol and kept on sprinkling until the whole pile was burning like hellfire. Finally with our bonfire on the go we settled down.



“There must be music” said Bapida and all agreed upon. All were looking at me so I had to begin and Tirtho, my all time singing partner right from school, joined me. It was huge entertainment. On a moonlit night, under a tree shade, with a fiery fire burning all the way up … 10 crazy people were enjoying every moment, like there was no tomorrow. KB started taking snaps as the rest of us were singing and dancing as well. Tirtho and I had a ball dance along with our trademark song Phuloon Ke Rang Se … Dil Ki Kalam Se … Our celebration even pulled the other boarders out of their rooms and of course they were enjoying as well. It felt the world revolved round us. We became the centre of attraction of the hotel and there were people on the balconies listening to our singing. It went on for at least 2 hours, when finally dinner was ready and served. Roti, Dal Makhni, Aloo Gobi and Chicken. Elaborate dinner. We were very hungry and everybody just dug in without wasting a moment. After dinner we all went to the beach once again and ohh what a beautiful scene it was. The water was glittering, as if liquid silver, for the moon shone bright right above us. The air was refreshing and cold as well but not biting as the previous night. Chandipur, being on sea has a very pleasant weather almost round the year. It was 12:30 when we returned to our banquet hall. There went on another singing round until 1:30 in the night when finally everyone felt their eyelids were becoming heavy. As always Bapida and Kedar right after lying down started to compete with each other in snoring championship of the millennium !!



Someone was really shouting … “Hey … Buddy its morning already … Wake up you sleeping beauty”. It took me a while to open my eyes and register the matter. Finally I realised it was Tirtho who was vigorously shaking me to wake me up. It was 7:30 in the morning. And yes we were late, for the previous night was too hectic and got us all. It was time to haste and we all were up and ready within half an hour. We were going to Panchalingeshwar. It is so named because there are five Lingas of Lord Shiva, though submerged in water round the year in a fissure on a hill. One has to climb 200 STEPS (info collected from cold drink shop after reaching Panchalingeshwar) to reach, pray and well if one wants to touch him !! That is one tiring thing to do. 200 hundred steps up the hill !!?? I wondered why Lord Shiva chose such a place. Could he not come down a little bit ?? Only God knows why !!

We were all ready to roll when Souravda said he has to leave early and won’t join with us. Some matter has come up back at his home and he will have to turn back. It turned our mood just a bit. After all we started all at a time and now will have to part with one of our tour partners. That really feels bad. And there was always worry for he will have to travel almost 400 kms back to his place all alone. But still we had to bid him good bye and good luck. Our team started from Chandipur at 8:45 a.m. with one member short. We were nine members in the team now. Bapida took the lead. We were headed for Panchalingeshwar and were on a state highway. The road was quite smooth but a bit heavy with traffic. We had to find our way through the maze of trucks and buses. We had to ask a local tea shop for directions and guess what … we were misdirected to a longer route !! What a mess !! We had to take u-turn, that also on the wrong side of the highway !! That was risky but there was no other way. We had to go at least 2 kms on the wrong way before we got onto a city-village combo road which ultimately took us to a village road. This was very interesting road as it had a lot of turns and twists which we all were quite enjoying. Our riding pleasure was disturbed only once that also by a young OX !! I think it thought he owned the road and was practically enjoying his lazy walk. Me and Kedar was stuck behind it and had to blow our horns for at least 5 minutes before he gave us way !! IT WAS DEFINITELY THE OX EFFECT !!



Finally the peak of the hill could be seen a little far away. The road started to go up hill. And just as we were starting to enjoy the road we had to take an abrupt halt !! We were there already !! There was a tremendous crowd. The whole area was in frenzy. We parked our bikes and felt it was quite hot. We were all sweating and had to get rid of all the warm clothing. Tirtho, Krish, Jeetda and Bapida didn’t want to climb up the hill and stayed with the bikes. Kedar, KB, Rahulda, Tanendra and I started for the famous 200 steps climb (mentioned earlier). It was really very tiresome. After going up at least 100 steps we had to take a breather. Kedar noticing a small stream decided to take a bath for he was going for the Puja. Rahulda and I continued to go up. KB was nowhere to be seen and we were quite sure that he decided to go back. Tanendra waited with Kedar. Finally when we 2 reached the top we were stopped by the guards and were told that we will have to open our shoes in order to continue any further. We decided otherwise and thought it would be best if we turned back. So we did and finally when we were back on terra firma we were really exhausted from the exercise. KB greeted us with a chilled cold drink which felt heavenly at the time. Kedar was back after approx 30 minutes and it was time again to roll. Next target – Nilagiri helipad.

We took a different route this time. It was approximately 30 kms away. We had to alternately take city and village roads. Finally we were there at base of the hill. There was an army base. And there was a check post. A board on the side of the road said the helipad was 8 kms up-hill. But the ITR (Integrated Test Range) base officials stopped us and asked where we were coming from. We told everything about our tour and our club as well. They wanted a permit from the ITR. Alas … we didn’t have it. We can’t go through unless we had a permit. And to have that we will have to go back to Chandipur again to the ITR office (at least 50 kms back), that also on a Sunday !! All of our requests were turned down. The officials had to do their duty. But one thing we got there which we didn’t have throughout the tour. We asked for water and they brought us and ohh how sweet the water was !! It was taken from a stream and we thought we were tasting nectar. It was our only consolation at Nilagiri, because ultimately we were not allowed to visit the helipad. We decided to turn back from there as it was getting late. Everyone was quite hungry and it was lunch time as well. We went back to the state highway and from there we finally got onto the mighty NH-60. We selected a dhaba just beside a petrol pump. It looked good. After parking our rides I noticed that the drive chain of my bike was quite dry. I had gear oil of grade SAE-90 with me (I always keep it with me) and it was time for a little care for my stallion. After lubing my bike’s chain, I did the same to Tanendra’s P180 and KB’s Apache 160. It is a messy job, lubing the chain. After freshening up I felt the hunger that has been building up for since the last hour. We ordered rice, dal, aloo chips and chicken. KB had roti. I myself was reluctant about having rice for it makes you a little heavy and at times sleepy as well. But I could not resist … after all being a Bengali and not having rice in lunch is a painful thought. The lunch went pretty smoothly and the whole dhaba was listening to our never ending cacophony. Bapida finished first and went out to check all the bikes. One by one every bike was inspected minutely and it was Kedar’s bike that gave Bapida a big frown. Kedar had run to answer his call. His bike was leaking oil from the cam pinion cover. It was quite a leak and Kedar admitted that it was going on for some time now. Finally he had to buy a 500 ml engine oil to refill the chamber. It was too risky to go out without having a backup of oil. There was neither time nor a mechanic who could fix the problem. So we had to carry extra oil in order to avoid seizure of the engine due to lack of proper lubrication.

It was time to roll again. But this time another of our partners had to part his way from the team. It was Tirtho this time. Some official work came up in Bhubaneshwar and he was informed from his head office to attend to it as early as possible. So he decided to start from there to Bhubaneshwar. It was roughly 250 kms from where we were. There has never been an incident like this before. Me and Tirtho are friends since last 14 years and biking partners for last 5 years and we have never parted before while on the same journey. It really felt bad. It was really a difficult situation for both of us. He asked me to join him but I had to return home by any means for my Mom was all alone. I was worried about him as well. He will have to travel 250 kms approx all alone. It will be dark very soon and that worried all of us. After digesting a lot “GYANS” (advices) from me he finally told me “Arrey Yaar … kahe ko tension leta hai !! Tension lene ka nahi dene ka hai … you people carry on. I will be informing you time to time whenever I take a halt.” And so it was agreed upon that he will be sms-ing me whenever he stopped and after reaching Bhubaneshwar will either call me or Bapi. After bidding goodbye to my long time partner my heart grew a bit heavy. And we started lazily. The heavy lunch made us a bit slow as well.



The NH-60 was as always free from heavy traffic. Only occasional 10-wheelers from Southern India could be seen. Slowly we gathered a little more pace. The weather was becoming cooler. It was a sheer riding pleasure with the setting sun in the backdrop, open highway in front and cool and calm of the weather. There were some occasional pot holes on the NH-60. The concrete in these places have been eroded away and these were pretty disturbing. We all had to take one or two at times. Then there were some really camouflaged serial bumpers. Just imagine friends … on a highway you are going at a speed of 80 kmph and suddenly without any hint there were at least 6-8 bumpers. It really shakes the whole of your body at that speed. Every joint feels to be rocking. That is one very bad experience. Still our pace began to rise steadily and finally we were going at around 100 kmph. That was real fun time. It was 5 in the evening that we all agreed to take a halt. The light and shade of the time made it quite disturbing to get a clear view of the road. And we needed a breather as well (cigarettes). Soon me and KB became busy with our cameras. It was a perfect dusk for all of us. Darkness was creeping slowly and we had to wait for 35 minutes to let it become completely dark. We started again this time Bapida and KB in the lead and me as the tail ender. KB had HID installed on his bike and so did I. Our lights shone bright through the night like diamonds and it was easy to mark us out both. So one in the lead and one at the tail. We were not very far from crossing the border and within half an hour we were back on Bengal soil. Back on NH-6 traffic was as always pretty heavy. We had to start making our own way through the maze of trucks and other vehicles.

It was around 7 that we had to take another halt for we were quite tired and feeling sleepy. We stopped at a dhaba 30 kms from Kharagpur. We had tea and breathers. Me and Rahulda ordered anda bhujiya as we were feeling hungry. The halt was of 30 mins approximately. It was time for us to start again. This time Bapida and Rahulda started early for they had to attend a marriage ceremony which could not be avoided. Jeetda joined them as well to avoid the cold that was increasing with time. It was me, Kedar, Krish and KB who started a little later after Bapida, Rahulda and Jeetda left. We were also in a hurry to get back home soon. While getting ready to roll, we heard from Tirtho and he has reached Bhubaneshwar safely and well before expected time. He left out the part of fast riding but nevertheless we were not late to understand that he has been riding quite fast. Finally we kicked off with KB in lead and me at the tail. We decided not to take any more halts. Our next target was Dunlop. I took a look at my watch and it was 7:30 p.m. already and we still needed to cover 100 kms (approx). The NH was quite heavy with traffic. We managed to maintain only 80 kmph on an average. When we reached Kolaghat it was 8:30. We faced a huge traffic jam starting well before the bridge. A new bridge is under construction over Rupnarayan River. The existing bridge is not enough to handle the huge highway traffic. It is old as well and the police control the volume of traffic on the bridge at a given time so as to avoid any kind of risk factors as well as bottleneck situations. We had to do real off-roading this time. We even had to pass under a hoarding and between the two posts which were holding the hoarding in place. It took us a sharp 35 minutes just to cross the bridge. The whole place was terribly dusty and polluted and we were really trying hard to find our way through the mess. We got relieved when we were on the NH again. But we had to make up the lost time and started to maintain 80-90 kmph on an average once again. KB got separated and went ahead of us. It was now Krish, Kedar and me. We could not find KB and Kedar as being pillion went on trying him on the mobile. Finally after quite a while KB picked up and told that he was on the way towards Dhulagarh Toll Plaza. He will wait for us at the toll plaza. We were still well above 30 kms away from Dhulagarh. After about half an hour we could finally see the dimmed vapour lamps of the huge toll plaza at Dhulagarh.

I felt a strong surge of emotions inside me. It was a mixture of happiness and a little melancholy as well. I was feeling good for every minute I was nearing my house a bit more. And felt sad because this wonderful journey with my friends was going to end very soon. I missed my partner Tirtho. I wish he was there. Finally we were crossing the booths of the toll plaza. KB was standing just after crossing the toll plaza. We took a quick breather after joining him. It was 9:40 that we kicked off from the Dhulagarh toll plaza. We were just about 25 kms away from our club.



The journey was about to end soon. As we approached the Bally Bridge, I felt I was already missing the highways. I missed the beautiful evening we had at the hotel sitting and singing by the fire. I missed the beach of OTDC Panthanibash, Chandipur.

But every journey should come to an end for a new journey to commence. Being one of the oldest members of Rolling Wheels Bikers’ Club, I could feel deep inside my mind a feeling of achievement was building up every passing moment. It was not pride … it was not over confidence. It was a feeling of achievement which was possible only because we had the zeal to make it possible.

We dared to make it happen. Which I am sure will happen again and again in the coming days of our club…Rolling Wheels Bikers’ Club.