My heart beat with the deep du-du-du-dududud sounds of a motorbike, everytime one passed me by and I wished … , I hoped … , and I was dying … to Get On It to explore the arid land of Jaisalmer.
The two little voices that reside on my shoulders, right under my ears, argued, like they always did since I got married, or maybe it was motherhood; the second iffy voice unheard of till then.
Vatif said, “What if you have an accident, who will help you in the midst of nowhere?”
Masti, the little adventurous me, said “Do it! It’ll be fun!” in the characteristic carefree voice.
Vatif groaned, “What if … You are Old! All that white hair, and no wisdom!”
Masti countered, “This is THE chance! Rent one and fly. Let’s GO!”
Vatif screamed, “Pagal hai kya! Crazy woman! What if … think about your daughter?”
Masti winked with joy, “Jee ley! Live it up! Mauka hai, one and only chance!”
I told both of them to shutUP and let me check out the options in the market. My daughter, who was quite surprised by the turn of events, and I walked along the street, checked out rates. My decision weighing scale was leaning in favour since my brother had taught me ‘how to’ on his enfield, thirty years ago and now-a-days these newbies were much lighter. I had occasionally driven someones bike to keep it in running condition, but that was twenty three years ago.
Please stop doing the math. I can hear your brain crunching! Secret out: I am almost 50. When is a better time to ride; now or when I’ll be riding chairs with wheels? Actually this is exactly what I said to convince myself at one of the bike-rental shops, which also sold colourful
slogans bedcovers for a side business. I said to myself, “What does a bedcover have to do with magical results on a bed?!” Yikes! Weird touristy gimmicks! Whatever sells … Runnn.
Both reasons decided it for me in the heat of the moment, that July summer day. Signed the paper, gave the drivers license, etc. and got a bike; it’s name more exciting than it’s form, Explorer. Yay!
For fifteen minutes the owner kept having me go uphill to practice and pretty soon I’d need to turn it around, when the bike would switch off. For an experienced person this would have been a huge clue for what was to come. But anyway, I spoke to the guy about letting me go downslope and on the main street for practice, because uphill is no way to go for a novice. “Besides, wasn’t the road to the desert going to be level?” Finally, it worked. He complimented convinced, showed me a map, and waving, let me go!
I asked my daughter to hop on and away we went. Clearing the town, it was a forty minute drive to the desert. 50, 60, 70, … 80 kmph, we were moving along fine! The breeze, though hot, was awesome for a dream just come true.
Watch out! Shifting sands, whispering mellow cautions in sync with Vatif’s “I told you so’s” came up suddenly for two girls taking in the sights and sounds. Major scares on the elegant ribbon of a road were an unseen speed breaker we flew over, and a jagged bitten off edge of the tarmac road, hollowed under by sands long gone.
If you have been to the Sam (read Sum) desert, you’ll know that there are no sights and sounds on the way. But for us, every moment, every hut, every person, every prickly bush, a line of camel riders, and silent rocks- all were unforgettable.
Reflections of our sandpapered faces, spiked up hair, were mirrored only in the shocked faces at the reception desk, back at the hotel; telling signs, to them and us, of what we had been through. We had a train to catch in forty five minutes, so reflections of the experience itself only began after setting down our luggage minutes before the screeching start, click-clack of the train, leaving the most exquisite railway station I’ve ever seen.
The golden city, with its amazing palaces, havelis, and homes, the dunes fading into the distance had found a permanent place in our hearts. Golden memories kept coming to life in our shoes, hair, and pockets, days later; quantities of which bespoke of the magnitude of a simple experience, running with your dream, and loving it!
P.S. The ride back from Sam was quite the opposite, with a realization that women on a motorbike was still a novelty in those parts. When traffic increases along with the curiosity index, you ended up with a motorbike which has a bad timing, and engine shuts off. Much like the people and vehicles slowing speeds, right in front of you or alongside, or who stop ‘n’ stare to sharpen their observation skills. Insight: we are a LIVE spectacle! Need I say more? I leave it to your imaginations to find unlimited amusement there 😄
I’ve forgotten the Arid details😉