Friday, December 2, 2011

I Learned Something New About India

Scenery in the Western Ghats
The next day we planned to ride the 200 miles to Ratnagiri.  We spent a leisurely morning reading the paper before we packed up and got on the road.   Unfortunately, the road conditions made yesterday seem like a cakewalk.  The road wound through some beautiful scenery (from what I could tell the few times I actually felt confident enough to look up) past rice paddies, coconut groves, and small towns.  But the pavement was, um, lacking.  Again we would ride for a couple of miles on relatively smooth stuff, but then it would give way to bombed-out, rutted mess.  Judging by the craters, I believe that most meteor hits in the world must somehow be targeted at the Indian roadways.  At times it was so rough that we could only manage to ride at 5mph maximum.  Then, as if it wasn't bad enough, we got to the edge of the Western Ghats.  Now the rubble piles snaked through hairpin turn after hairpin turn, up and down.  And we were in a conga line of buses and trucks that obviously had to be somewhere NOW based on their need to pass in blind curves. 

One of countless hairpin curves
Somehow, we managed to make it to Ratnagiri unharmed (but much later than we anticipated due to our 25mph average speed for the day), found a hotel, some dinner, took some analgesics, and went in for a nice, hot, shower to soothe the aches.  When we checked in, the man at reception told me they had hot water (not a given in this part of the world), so I was kind of surprised when I waited, and waited, and waited for the water to heat up.  I tried the other knob, thinking maybe the right one was hot instead, but no.  At this point, I was kind of committed to showering, so I tiptoed under the cold spray (I should know by now, to just jump in!) and got the deed done as quickly as I could.  Before Colin had to endure the same, I called the reception desk to inform them that there was no hot water.  Somehow, the man thought I was trying to order dinner.  I said never mind and walked downstairs to try it in person.  “No garam pahnee,” (hot water in Hindi) I said.  That was when I learned that some places have hot water only during certain hours, and at this establishment, it was available only in the morning, starting at 7:00.  So Colin got a cold shower too.  Then, we both fell into bed, totally exhausted.

Oh, I forgot the funny story of the day.  Since the two of us look rather “unusual” on the roads, we often have other motorbike riders pass us and then slow down for a closer look.  Usually they just smile and give us an approving nod or thumbs up.  But today, two young guys on a bike rode next to Colin for a minute, looking at our bikes, smiled, and then one said something to him.  He couldn't understand and asked the rider to repeat it.  The guy apparently asked in very clear English, “Do you want to smoke some weed?”  Colin laughed and declined their offer, and they rode on. 

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