Nandi Hills: Part I.

Friday night, sometime in January, at Peco's.

22.00 hours. I am sitting with a bunch of my brother's friends - actually they're my friends now and I'm going to stop referring to them as my brother's, that's right, MY friends. Bwahaha.

Getting back to the point.

I am sitting with them drinking beer. But no one is mindbogglingly drunk on account of how we're not teenagers anymore.

(A/N: I started writing this before Friday night's disaster.)

But we're all pleasantly tipsy, pleasantly amused, pleasantly, er, pleasant. Anyway, at some point, someone has the bright idea of driving to Nandi Hills first thing in the morning to catch the sunrise.

"Nandi Hills!" Everyone roars in agreement as we stagger out of Peco's. Okay, fine, maybe we didn't roar in unison. But we could have.

00.00 hours. We go back to Leo's house and chill there. There is myself, there is Leo, there is Yamini - together they are Leo-Yamini - there is the Undoable One, there is Hitesh, there is Shloke, there is Shloke's friend Mickey - who is now our friend Mickey. Everyone is stoned.

2.00 hours. Hitesh goes home with Shloke and Mickey, promising valiantly to come with us to Nandi Hills though he has work the next day at noon. Shloke and Mickey make no promises. They have work - before noon - and intend to sleep.

2.15 hours. Leo, Yamini, U.O. and I keep smoking. Man, we keep smoking.

2.35 hours. We pass out. Just before passing out, I observe to U.O. that I highly doubt everyone's ability to wake up at 4 am and drive to Nandi Hills.

"I will go," proclaims U.O. "I've made up my mind and when I make up my mind, man, I make up my mind."

I don't bother replying. I give U.O. a Look (completely wasted on him) and go to sleep.

4.00 hours. U.O. is up and insists on waking the rest of us up particularly obnoxiously. This includes a constant, loud refrain of "Wake up, wake up, WAKE UP WAKE UP WAKE UP WAKE UP!" and an unnecessary banging of doors.

4.10 hours. U.O. and Leo have an intense discussion about their bikes. U.O. has no papers. Leo has no license. Leo has no papers either, come to think of it, but he has a photo of them on his phone.

"Do you think that will be enough?" Leo asks anxiously.

No, Leo, it probably won't.

Now the thing about Nandi Hills, according to U.O., is that it's shut between 6 am and 6 pm. And by six, you have cops and check posts and things. The reason for this is that it was a favourite place for couples to make love among the trees or bushes or whatever, and a lot of people objected to this. But we decide to drive there anyway and give it a shot (getting access to Nandi Hills, that is, not making spectacular love on a bed of grass).

4.30 hours. U.O. and I go back to his place to pick up some stuff. We agree to meet Leo and Yamini by the Domlur flyover. Hitesh will meet us there too.

4.45 hours. U.O. and I meet up with Hitesh. No sign of Leo and Yamini.

5.00 hours. Still no sign of Leo and Yamini.

5.10 hours. Still no sign of Leo and Yamini and no one has cigarettes. Tempers are getting frayed.

5.15 hours. A bike passes. Is it Leo and Yamini? No, it isn't.

5.30 hours. "I'm going," says U.O. "If they don't come, I'm going, I'm going alone." One expects to hear a lone wolf type howl, but sadly, one doesn't.

5.35 hours. Leo and Yamini! U.O. not required to travel alone like the lone wolf he sees himself as.

5.45 hours. And we're off! Yamini on the back of Leo's bike, myself riding pillion on U.O.'s and Hitesh flying solo, a free pigeon.

So the thing about U.O.'s bike - he has a bullet, like my brother - is that he has no goddamn backseat. Since it was going to be a long ride, we tied a little pillow over where the backseat was supposed to be and fastened it with rope. That is what I sat on - for two hours. Did I complain? No, I didn't.

And boy, did I have stuff to complain about.

It was cold, so cold, I didn't realize it would be so cold, and my ears were freezing. I borrowed a thin scarf off U.O., but it was woollen with big holes so that didn't really help. But you know, I was trying desperately to be cool and not-fussy, so I didn't complain. Just shivered. And to make matters worse, U.O. doesn't have indicators, so I was forced to be his indicator.

I have felt ridiculous many times in my life, but sitting on a pillow on the back of a bike, with a scarf wrapped around my head, sticking my arm out and waving it around when it instructed to, is definitely up there in the top ten twenty.

6.15 hours. We stop for tea and cigarettes. Yamini ties my scarf more securely around my head.

7.10 hours. We reach the road that leads to Nandi Hills. It's surrounded by vineyards. The sun is up, a very gentle, peaceful sort of sun, like all early morning suns are, and the road is ahead and I'm surrounded by green on either side and the air is fresh and cold and wonderful.

Also, U.O. is a very good rider. To be travelling on a bike at a very high speed, but at the same time feeling completely safe and secure, is a delicious feeling. I strongly recommend it.

I receive my first glimpse of Nandi Hills. U.O. has already described it for me, but - ohmygod.

Imagine a road curving lazily at the feet of hills. Imagine that on your left, you see a sea of green, interrupted by clusters of huts, people starting their day, lazy cows, frolicking goats, and - for some inexplicable reason - grapes being sold every ten feet.

Oh right, that would be because of the vineyards.

But to your right now, imagine seeing a mass of hill rising, clothed in thick green foliage, with a vast wall of mist - as thick as cloud - guarding it. It's the sort of scene that can't have changed much over the years, the decades, the centuries. You feel that that mountain was always there, the wall-mist was always there, it was all, all, all, always there.

7.45 hours. We start making our way up the hill. The check post is unattended. We encounter morning walkers, morning joggers, and morning selfie-takers as we move up. There are quite a lot of people around. We reach the summit where we park the bikes, and then we do what will be documented in Part 2.


Kusum rao said...

Hey Thr,

Very nice blog and well written. Me and my sister are also planning to visit Nandi on our Activa. Was wondering if the ghat roads are safe to ride thr and if you have personally ridden a scooter thr? Also, did you guys switch off the engine downhill on the way back? Need some tips, Regards, Kusum

Trish. said...

Hi. I don't know anything about the ghat roads, and I was on someone else's bike. We didn't switch off the engine on the way down. Roads are pretty decent.

Anonymous said...

Come on... what happened to Part II?

Anonymous said...

Part II????? Get on with it...