My first solo

Last year, due to multifarious reasons, I was contemplating quitting my corporate job in Bangalore, and foraying into something that excited me. I had already interviewed for a position as a consultant trainer (my current job), and had managed to clear it.

Despite my strong desire to quit and managing to find an interesting job, I gave myself some thinking time before I sent in my papers. I was reading articles about how people quit their corporate jobs and pursued their interests pretty much every single day for validation. My frustration levels were shooting through the roof, and I wasn’t able to find an outlet.

During this phase, I had gotten really good at my hobby of staring at the wall. It had become my meditation, and it was therapeutic. When you have a therapeutic experience, you tend to do things you have been putting off for a very long time, as inhibitions tend to disappear.

I decided to go ahead and actualize a dream that I had been nursing for 8 years.

After I got the bike, every single day after work, I would just aimlessly ride and deal with my frustration. My bike listened patiently, and it continuously kept acknowledging my presence through the silencer.

I was at the tail end of my contemplation phase of whether I should quit my job, and my bike suggested a solo ride.

I covered 500 km in a week, so that I could get the first service done before setting off on the trip. I requested for exhausting whatever vacation time was remaining, and my company thankfully approved.

Generally, I am an organized person, and to-do lists, checklists, and my google calendar are default tools of pretty much everything I do. When I am travelling, I usually take planning to the next level, as I like to be extra prepared in an unknown territory.

This time, I decided not to plan.

The motivation for this came from a promo video that I saw of Dave Vanderveen (CEO of XS Energy) on the unmistakable creative podcast. He talks about how we should scare ourselves, little bit, every single day, and embrace the fear. For people who know me closely, if I didn’t plan, then that means, I have dropped the idea. I seldom execute an idea without a plan.

I just packed my bags, and I only knew where my first destination was going to be: Agumbe.

To be exact, Kasturi Akka’s 150 year old residence in Agumbe.

Kasturi Akka’s family has been providing free food and accommodation to travelers for the last few decades. You pretty much live with the family, and nobody bats an eye about a stranger in their house. The stranger has the freedom to use the house the way the owners are entitled to!

Since my bike was still in the running in period, I wasn’t supposed to ride beyond 60 km/h. Owing to this, I reached Agumbe only by around 4 pm. Despite showing up late, I had a sumptuous lunch waiting for me, and I got my first taste of Kasturi Akka’s hospitality. First serving is made by her, and it is mandatory to eat everything that is being served. Considering I was famished from riding ~370 km, there was no question of wastage. I actually went for another serving.

Post lunch, Kasturi Akka asked me to rest, so that I would be refreshed for viewing the sunset. I pretty much passed out on an extremely comfortable, cushioned chair that was in the center courtyard of the house.

Saw the sunset, had an early dinner, and slept early to rise the next day before dawn to visit Kundadri peak for a spectacular sunrise.

After soaking myself in Vitamin D atop the hill, I headed back to Kasturi Akka’s house for breakfast, and to head to my next destination: Manipal.

Goodbye selfie with Akka!

I was supposed to meet a close friend for tea, catch up on his life, and ride through north Kerala to grab biriyani from Paragon hotel in Kozhikode (Calicut) as it has been on my bucket list for a while, and then head to Wayanad.

None of that happened. Beauty of not planning!

I ended up spending the entire day chilling with his classmates, but not him, from his M Phil (Psychology)class in their so called staff room. Since I didn’t have anything better to do, I volunteered to be the subject for a battery of psychology tests for lot of people. I had some free therapy that day! I also managed to showcase my engineering skills by fixing a pedestal fan in the staff room that was producing a lot of noise! My 7th semester Mechanical Vibrations professor would have been so proud if he witnessed it.

That evening, among all the people my friend introduced me to, I resonated with one person a lot, and we had a plethora of things to talk about. It felt uncanny as to how well I connected with this person in such a short period. That night, when I left her house, I knew I made a meaningful friend that day.

I had a “flora session” with my friend that night at his place, talked about life, and headed to Kozhikode for my biriyani next day morning. Despite Kerala being my home state, I never had the opportunity to travel through North Kerala. Everything about North Kerala was a stark contrast of South Kerala. The terrain, the dialect, food, people, and not to forget the overall landscape on either side of the highway was radically different from what I have experienced of Kerala. After crossing Mangalore, I entered Kasaragod, rode through Kanhangad,Payyanur, Kannur, Thalassery, and finally reached Kozhikode.

After a 15 minute battle with figuring out what google maps was trying to communicate, I found the restaurant, ordered biriyani, and checked it off my list.

Plan was to reach Wayanad that night, but again, going as per plan wasn’t the theme of this trip. Even if I intended to, circumstances ensured I didn’t. Once I started negotiating the hairpin curves en route, I was met with torrential rain, and I decided to stay in Vythiri (24 km before Wayanad). I spent two days in Vythiri, and explored all the touristy locations in the vicinity.

On the first day, I visited the famous Pookode lake, and decided to take a paddle boat to explore it. When I looked around, I noticed I was the only one who was alone in a boat. That’s when the true sense of solo trip hit me! But that didn’t mean my ego was deterred. I paddled hard to ensure that nobody got ahead of me, even if they had a partner to paddle.

Pookode lake

Called it a day very early, had a light dinner, watched some TV, asked my sister to wake me the next morning , and I went to bed after making a decision. Next day morning, when my sister called, I gave her the credentials to my office laptop, asked her to access my email, directed her to open the resignation I had drafted, asked her to fill the recipients, and gave the final go for sending it. I certainly spoiled few people’s Friday.

Boom! The decision I kept pondering on for so many months was made.

There were few more places to visit in Wayanad, and my last spot was Banasursagar dam. It was extremely windy there, and I soaked in it as much as possible. It was conducive for rewinding through the entire trip to understand what I had experienced. I don’t want to romanticize , but it certainly was a cathartic experience. I remember how a horse was part of that experience!

The next day, as I was riding back to Bangalore, after crossing Mysore, I noticed that I had crossed the 2,000 km mark. This meant there was no need for speed control anymore. I celebrated by pushing the bike over 120 km/hr, and felt that sense of exhilaration speed provides on my own bike! In hindsight, I’m glad I had to restrict my speed during majority of the trip, as it helped in the much needed introspection!

There are few details I obviously skipped because I wanted some things to stay with me, but it definitely taught me a lot during the trip. Every day was uncertain, and it was difficult for a rigid person like me to deal with, but the patient needed the bitter tasting medicine.

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