It’s two weeks since I reached Mumbai. What has been different. It’s the same country I was born in. The same family and friends. Mumbai looks the same. It’s just more hotter.
The welcome at Prithvi Theatre, Juhu was an emotional highpoint. That’s where I had started from. My cousin Kunal threw an impromptu snackfest for all present. Family was present. Bikerni-Madhuri rode with me into Prithvi, alongwith Triumph bikers, led by Arash. My mom blessed me on arrival. My school friend Sunil Patel who had seen me off came. Biker-Pradip who I met in Indonesia as well, was there. My Social Media sponsor-Vineet was there and took some nice interviews. My dear friend Malavika Sangghvi had Press-announced my arrival a week earlier. It was warm and welcome.
The first few days went in family visits. The next few days with friends. I found some people looking the same and some ageing more in a year than others. I guess it’s more to do with social situations rather than the ageing process.
I sent my bike for a final checkup to Shaman-Triumph. They were happy to see it and I went to meet them and set up my top box Hepco-Becker pannier. I bought a flame coloured Airoh helmet for myself.
At a movie preview of 102 Not Out, I met the Bollywood pretty people. Some had heard of what I did, some didn’t. Few get on bikes, so to comprehend is difficult.
Reading the newspaper everyday, I realized the commercials had gotten bigger. It was still politics-cricket-films.
I ate fruit and curd everyday. Something I missed a lot. Ofcourse home cooked food is a blessing.
And one day I rode to Goa on lovely roads, to where I now live. The Pune bypass was complete and wonderful. Someone had kept their promise of doing a good job. My wife was in my car being driven by my neighbor Jude who had kindly agreed to fly down to Mumbai and drive back. I was on my bike: Sunbeam. Whenever I stopped, people came to see the stickers and then asked questions. I think they were proud that an Indian had gone around the world. That made my trip more worthwhile!
Goa was great and as preserved. We took the Belgaum route and Anmod Ghat was picturesque. We rode through the heavily forested reserves. Leaving at 4.45am, I reached at 6.30pm, just before the sun started to dip.
I kept wondering: what was different. I guess, I was different. I had become quieter. Slower and selective. Extremely sure of my purpose in any situation. Didn’t babble incoherent nonsense to win an argument. I was extremely relaxed. I still felt sleepy after lunch and a 30 minute doze helped. I felt sleepy at 8pm and slept well.
Season was here and so were the tourists. I met the entire neighborhood and the market and friends. Most of them were just like the people I met in Russia or Europe or USA or Asia. Even strangers on the road felt familiar. I could place most somewhere on my trip. It was awesome, almost eerie.
Same soul, different faces.