got our Enfields running
got out on the highway
looking for the Five Falls
and whatever comes our way


Noon. We roll out from Varkala helipad. Our destination is a waterfall about 120 km East in the state of Tamil Nadu, neighbor to Kerala. Grahame was there a couple of weeks ago. Although he has some memory of how to get there, he can’t recall the name of the place. Memory clouded by marijuana fumes. We stop at every village and fork in the road to ask directions until we find out that we are heading for the town of Tenkasi. I rented an Enfield "Bullet", heavy and sluggish, like Grahame's memory, still built to this day the way the Brits built them 50 years ago. Humberto rides with me. Sybille rides two up with Grahame on his new model Enfield ‘Thunderbird’.

It has been nearly 20 years since I rode a motorcycle. I did a few test rounds yesterday. I am both excited and apprehensive at the prospect of riding the infamous Indian roads. White knuckled I make it across town, where we fill up and roll out. Rolling, rolling, rock and rolling. 

By the time we stop in the first village, I am sore in the groin and I have blisters on my fingers from gripping the clutch so tightly. Soon we come into curvy mountain roads. The centerstand is dragging on the road when we lean into the curves, and a few times we come out of blind curves "over" the center line. Scary. Slow down time. Got to make this moment last. Feeling groovy.

After a while Humberto takes over the driver’s seat. The Enfield, built by the Brits, has the gears and breaks reversed - left to right, up and down – compared to his BMW at home. There is a lot of grinding of gears in the first kilometers. Before long, we hit another one of many hairpin turns and Humberto mistakes the clutch for the brake, sending us into the turn too fast, off the road and into the dirt…dropping the bike…fortunately very gently. Humberto mumbles something of a Portuguese curse up front followed by an apologetic ‘Sorry Peter’ as we go down - such a gentleman. We both get up swiftly from under the Enfield and check ourselves - just scrapes and bruises. Pfew! We are very lucky - riding without helmet in T-shirts, shorts and sandals. We take a deep breath or two, even three, bring the bike upright and check for damage. Minor stuff. Within 15 minutes we are back on the road – I am driving again, a bit shaken but none the worse for wear. Soon we meet Grahame and Sybille who have turned around to come look for us.  Funny thing: just when we are about to get going again, an ambulance rounds the bend. The driver looks at us and in sign language asks if we need assisance.

When we cross into Tamil Nadu, the landscape changes rapidly. Lush green rice paddies turn to palm groves stretching all the way to the distant mountains. The thump-thump of the engine bounces off the palm and banana trees lining the long stretches of smooth black top in the afternoon sun. Yeah baby! This is riding. Relaxed in my seat now, a few times I bring it up to the top speed of 90km/h, but then only for a few seconds = I travel not to arrive but for the sake of the journey.

And if you don’t believe there’s a price for this sweet paradise, just remind me to show you the scars

11:04 Gepost door pieter | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

De commentaren zijn gesloten.