I (James) knew after I sold the Bullet in 2009 that I was never going to buy another vehicle to drive in Indian traffic ever again…
…but that didn’t mean we were sentanced to being chauffeured around South India in cars and auto-rickshaws. It just meant we were going to have to go back to our comfort zone is all.
Between my rather intense surgeries we did some searches and found a couple of bike shops online, epic-walked our little asses off, and ultimately found a cool bike shop that had exactly what we needed. Well…kind of.
Our new bikes are both upright (Wedge-style) mountain bikes which are hard on our (not so young anymore) backs and necks and unlike pretty much everything else here in Hindustan, they were fucking expensive!
Of course, we had to go see the new Star Wars movie because it’s the one English-language film playing right now and…well, it’s Star Wars! With the new bikes, downtown Trivandrum (nee Thiruvananthapuram) isn’t so far away. Only about 10km. Gulp.
Let’s do it!
And of course, we couldn’t stick to the main roads. They’re busy and freaky, so we were all about getting clever and using neighborhood roads. What we didn’t figure on was that the neighborhood roads are very much “back road” quality, where they’re not “country lane” or “field path” quality. In other words, rough, rutted dirt showing the stony bones of this granite and marble part of the continent.
Also, it hadn’t been clear how much the main roads followed (or had created) gentle grades. The back roads were steep, both up and down like a yoyo belonging to a kid with ADHD. The ruts and watersheds made the downhills torturous to navigate, so you could go up a bad-ass hill and get no real payoff.
At the bottom of one such hill, while Dena checked her unusually inaccurate navigation with the mobile phone, I stepped off to shoot a local Hindu temple. I very quickly got yelled at for stepping too far into a sacred place. All of this religiosity is kinda silly to me, so I only got this one photo.
Mumbling about going back to the main roads, we tried one more time to find the path through the mini-mountains. We skirted a wall on a small path until the path became very narrow. When even that petered out, I realized I had ridden my bike about 200 yards on top of a low wall with a ditch to each side. When I tried to turn around, I fell off the wall and landed on my hands in a pile of broken marble with my brand-new bike on top of me.
I scratched my hand up pretty bad and lightly sprained my ring finger, but other than that I was no worse for wear. We used most of our water cleaning the scrapes and single deep puncture on my right hand and soiled the one clean handkerchief wrapping until it stopped bleeding. Then it was the moment of decision. Are we going to miss the movie today?
No fucking way!
With all that roundaboutation, we were impressed to find ourselves only 5 minutes late for the movie. Still unacceptable, of course. We saw a later show.
Meantime, they wouldn’t let us leave our bikes in their two-wheeler parking area so we rode aimlessly around in circles throughout Thampanoor, through the East Fort, got some t-shirts, and basically sweated buckets in the 90 degree tropical weather.
We’re settled into the apartment, bachelor-pad style (very little furniture). Not too much to say there except we like some of our neighbors.
Then there was another surgery, but not the one that had been scheduled. The previous one hadn’t healed how the doctors wanted, so they had to cut my gums away from the bone and pull it down, then suture it tighter down around the implant. It was incredibly painful, but only for about 12 hours and then I was ready for another bike ride.
To the Space Museum! Yay!
First, we went back to the beach because, if you look on the map, a very strange thing happens. This great big lake that we live by looks like it empties out on the ocean but there’s a small bit of beach that separates the two bodies of water. We went to take a look.
As usual, the beach is a special kind of industrial area. The fishers are almost alone there, using the beach to stretch out and detangle their nets and store their boats.
On and off the sand, day after day.
Not sure how often this happens, but we saw one boat make a break for it, sans crew.
And then the sand spit between the lake and the ocean. Yep. It’s real. There’s no sailing in and out there.
Alrighty then. Seen that.
Then we started to circle the well-guarded Vikram Sarabhai Space Center. It’s protected by a 12 foot rock and concrete wall topped with razor wire and lots of smiling, machine-gun-toting Indian men who are more than happy to point us in the right direction as long as we get the fuck out of their faces.
We found all kinds of cool stuff, but what we didn’t find was the Space Museum. After further research, that’s because it’s in the absolute last place we would ever look. St. Mary Magdalene Church. What a hoot! We rode by it three times and never even thought to look at the Christian edifice.
As usual, we got totally exhausted and practically starved ourselves to death on the ride. In short order, we were sitting in front of a thali, stuffing our faces and happy to have been on a beautiful ride.