india 2012

India 2012, My first early bath – part way to Kathmandu

Plan A preparations for this little jaunt went without a hitch, sadly the implementation (for me) was a disaster.
I organised the trip for John & Claire Walsh, Mark Kotting and myself to fly to Delhi, hire a Royal Enfield Bullet each and ride to Kathmandu, returning to Delhi by a different route.
We acclimatised ourselves the first day with a bit of sightseeing in Delhi (mainly the Red Fort) and  spent the second day with Lalli Singh, completing all the paperwork, having a lesson on bike maintenance and taking an hours practice ride in Delhi’s traffic. All without mishap. It has been made very clear to us that we are borrowing the bikes from Lalli Singh as personal friends (we have a signed document to prove it) and not hiring them. That would not be legal. So all packed, bikes outside our hotel ready for a Hindu leaving prayer at 7am tomorrow and Agra here we come.
The adventure is about to begin. Breakfast at 6, a Hindu prayer to Ganesh to wish us good luck conducted by Lalli Singh outside our hotel, and by 7am we were led out of Delhi on to the Agra road. A toll road Expressway/Motorway but free to bikers. This was a dual carriageway to hell where undertaking was a given and a horse and cart was a frequent companion in either lane in either direction. We deviated to Fatepur Sikri, the. city built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar and completed a seriously arduous days ride in a rather luxurious prebooked hotel 500 meters from the Taj Mahal. The last hours drive into Agra was total nightmare ducking and diving in dense rush hour traffic in fading light. Tomorrow sightseeing with some pics of the great Taj
A fantastic day today, tempered only by the heat which must have reached the mid 30’s – I don’t expect any sympathy. We had excellent guided tours of the Taj Mahal in the morning, a leisurely lunch in the cool, and Agra Fort in the afternoon. Both places were awesome in concept, scale (pause for power failure) and craftsmanship. Seeing is believing but in my mind only if you have researched the Mughal empire. Superb meal this evening Mughai chicken plus Kingfisher. The road to Kanpur tomorrow, 7am departure, through non tourist India, hopefully 3 days riding to Nepal.
The expression “all good things must come to an end” has certainly applied to this little jaunt. After a very successful day in Agra on Saturday we made good progress to Kanpur on Sunday despite a puncture – found flat overnight and repaired in 1/2 hour within 50 metres of our hotel. Our journey helped enormously by the Uttar Pradesh policy of setting all traffic lights at red on Sundays. We left Kanpur, an enormous and grotesquely polluted city, heading for Lucknow, obviously missed our turning and shot off on the NH2 heading south not east. And then it happened. As I was undertaking an artic. truck at c.80k which swerved violently into me and I was unceremoniously swept off. I came to sitting on a roadside bench surrounded by most of India’s 1.2 billion people, feeling a bit woozy but fairly sure I hadn’t broken anything. A few abrasions to my hands and left arm. I spent a couple of hours in the local government hospital on a drip. They x-ray’d my knee and dressed my wounds. First class prompt service. I spent the rest of the day and the next in a grotty hotel in Fatepur (where the accident happened) – a lot of time was spent with the police who in the end were helpful (ie the Chief was most obliging), whereas his non english speaking troops insisted on much paperwork and photocopying all my bike documents. Regrettably, on Lalli Singh’s advice, I was obliged to make a written statement stating I did not wish to take any action against the driver. He had been arrested after the incident – local lads had chased him and brought him back as he hadn’t stopped. I clearly would not be able to ride for quite a period due to the serious bashing sustained by my ribs so I wouldn’t be able to complete the journey so here I am, having flown back to Delhi. When once everything was totally sorted out the other 3 are continuing. I am now trying to change my flight to return to UK ASAP.