April, May and June
The three months when only the mentally touched (whose number is thankfully on the rise) plan escapades on the Indian highways.
The three months when some really funny things happen on the road.
Like, your bike may suddenly wobble, fishtail or generally behave as if it is a bit touched by the sun and you realize that the asphalt you have been riding on all along has suddenly gone semi-solid.
Or, when you stop to wash your face somewhere on the road and do it in a hurry, your eyes start burning. Because, inadverently, you have washed the salt of your sweat from your forehead and brows, into your eyes.
Or, when you have been sensible enough not to ride out and then run into a mate who was mad enough to, you get to see his dried lips, his bloodshot eyes and his sunburnt arms, even as you are hearing him say "Man, it was bloody, awesome hot!".
The three months in question are of course, April, May and June.
But then, these are also the months when you are guaranteed maximum sunshine, minimum traffic and shockingly sensational dawns to ride out into and backlit, cloud-limned sunsets to stop and gaze at.
For me of course, these three months have always been a personal muse, right from the days I have had AP10R8691.
April, here in the Deccan is when you suddenly realize that the days are hotter than it was in March. And the best time for a night ride. Since the road is still relatively cool in the nights.
May is when you cannot sleep, especially if you have been partying more than you have been riding and when the mosquitoes decide to take advantage of the power cuts to dive-bomb you, the best thing to do of course is not delude yourself into believing that you can still sleep, but just to sneak out onto the road.
June is in its own way, a bit" hat ke", the time when the showers start, the clouds start teasing with squalls and thundershowers almost every day, the weather cools down a bit and being on a road you know means that a part of your being is playing Met Office. Wondering if it will rain if you are suddenly greeted by the dark leadening of skies, wondering if it is raining after that rise on the road you know of if you are riding through a heavy downpour, wondering if that hotel / dhaba you know of besides some turnoff is the best place to stop and order some chhai, while you wait for your rain-drenched undies to dry.
If you are photographically challenged (and I have been for somewhere close to 2 years now), these are the months to get out of the city. Because, you are guaranteed a different sight of God Light, every evening. And you get around 2 complete hours to frame, compose and play with shutters and apertures, if you want to take that lovely "awesome" picture of an old temple, a disused bridge or just some rock-formation besides the road. 2 entire hours of slanting light, which will not over-expose your photographs, which will not flare and spoil a perfect composition; 2 entire hours when you can leisurely peer out of your camera's viewfinder and wait for the colour tones on rock, brick&mortar or landscapes to become magical!
Jeez, did I not just get carried away?
Naturally then, I have been on some lovely rides in these three months. Apart from the three rides to Vizag (and those crazy returns to Hyderabad), there were some other rides which do belong in my all time "memory bank",
1.) The ride to Karimnagar (with Chandra as a pillion) that me Amit and Rohit undertook in April 2003. Riding through the night (hey, there was a moon in the sky), to finally reach the Srirarm Sagar Bund. And then riding on the Bund itself through a billion pesky early morning insects. Then riding back, losing each other and finding each other, all of us fighting sleep in their own ways.
2.) The ride to Cheriyal and to Mulukanoor (through interior roads that seem to lose themselves in scrub and fields) in May 2004. This was one of those slow rides when I even stopped to give a lift to some villager, whose head-dress ruled out my mouthing "You got a helmet?", and then onwards rode even slower thanks to the running commentary I got about the cost of land per acre, the irrigation policies of the government, the chances of formation of Telengana and so on.
3.)The awesome ride to Samudralingapuram with Supradeep in April 2004. Supradeep running in a new Piston and me a bit TLC minded as I had new Piston rings, both of us basically tag-teaming, without getting into three digit speeds, outbound Hyderabad on the Mango-lined Nagpur highway, stopping at Ramayampet, then getting off the highway, intent on being inbound Hyderabad by the Karimnagar road, to suddenly come across a quaint village called Samudralingapuram, in a quaint hollow of terraced fields and Toddy palms. We joined the Karimnagar road through Siddipet, reaching Hyderabad, easily at 9.30 in the night, totally clocking around 260 kms in a bit below 5 hours of riding time. Exactly why I term it awesome, considering that most of the time we barely touched 90kmph.
4.) The second ride to Uma Maheshwaram, exactly a year back, i.e. in June 2005. To see a friend's newborn at Nagarkurnool. And then to get lost among the badlands around Achampeta in search of one of the entrances to Srisailam. This ride was one where I got closest ever to a bird (considering that I have a simple camera and no telephoto lenses), maybe the bird itself was touched by the heat. And then of course the night ride back to Hyderabad, from somewhere near Kurnool with no low beam (too tired to change the bulb) and no horn (thanks to a dead battery).
Of course there have been any number of rides apart from these that I can remember. Mostly "fast clips" on the Karimnagar or the Adilabad stretches, where I usually have had no specific reason, but just the need to be on the highway. And I must say, relatively speaking, even from a pure riding perspective, it is fun to be on the road in April, May and June. After a point, the heat just becomes another irritant to live with and anyway as long as one is riding, there is a breeze.
Sure, most of the time, that breeze is like someone has opened a furnace door on you.
But then again, madness is a relative word, isn't it?