After Mo and Jessi’s little breakdown, they did enough rough roads, adventuring, surviving and realise they need some time “off the saddle” to stretch their legs and ease the mind so we decide to split ways. One last more mountain pass and off we go our own journeys.
Meanwhile, my Instagram and Facebook inbox are slowly building up with requests of fanatic Indian riders who want to meet with me. I almost feel like a star here! This is in the beginning quite amusing and funny but soon I realize I wouldn’t want to be Johnny Depp anymore (apart from the looks and money, maybe). A privacy bubble is literally inexistent in India. Random strangers lean over your shoulder and look at what you’re messaging to you mom, people stalking me by calling me 10+ times a day or every time I stop at a small tea-stall, a sudden group of overly enthusiastic men storm towards my motorbike and me and take selfies, pictures of the bike, sit on it, ask me an abundance of questions, which I answer with: “You might be surprised but I don’t speak Hindi, sorry mate!”
This is a completely different culture for me, which was sometime quite hard to bear, and resulted an emotional rollercoaster with ups and downs. India is too crazy for words but absolutely fantastic!
I slowly drive down out off the mountain region and stop at a really nice place called “Rider Café, Shimla”. This time I contacted Rishi, the owner, first and we happily meet the next day. But not just for a regular chat… His mother, who is the chef at the café, made an amazing typical Indian breakfast and I was fortuned enough to join them and their whole family. Those flavours, colours and smells are just fantastic! What an experience. After some good laughs, a full tummy, sticker exchange and bike inspections, it is time to embrace the heat and crowdedness which comes: New Delhi.
It is big, ginormous, huge, hectic, full of traffic, full of people and, ….. , quite polluted. I leave early in the morning and was prepared for the madness but still it surprised me how vast and never ending New Delhi is. Hours go by before I finally cross the city and can continue my way.
I have to admit, the Taj Mahal stole my heart… (btw, it’s huge!) After traveling for several months now, you somehow (not on purpose) start to put many things into perspective or compare with other things you’ve seen. “Oh, this looks nice! But I saw already a castle in Pakistan which was way more impressive..” – or – “Oh, this reminds me of a smaller version of the grand canyon..” and so on.
Seeing the Taj Mahal, is not like this and amazed me in every way: how unique and beautiful the whole site is, how early the gardens are filled with tourists (pictures are taken this is 6am), how dedicated some people are taking selfies (special clothes, rituals and strange dance moves) and, to my surprise, how you still can find some calm and beautiful perspectives and viewpoints. For once, I appreciated the air pollution which actually enhanced the views and sunrise drastically.
The Taj Mahal is made of Makrana marble, and lots of it! Unfortunately, there is a big threat to the beauty of it… Acid is the most dangerous for the monument. The inadvertent emission of sulfuric oxide, due to road traffic, causes acid rain. This rain colors the Taj Mahal yellow (marble cancer), tarnishing it, and, worse, eroding it. This is especially bad for all the sculptures and incrustations of stone. I hope they soon find a solution to preserve this beauty eternally.
Unfortunately, my time is running out in India (already) since a friend is flying over from Belgium and meeting me in Nepal to do some trekking in the Himalayas.
As we motorcyclists know, the rider’s community has no borders, specific language, age or race. And this is exactly the same in India. Good people with a passion for riding, willing to help, share stories and always keen for a ride. On my way to Nepal, I met so many lovely fellow riders, their families, was hosted at their homes, helped me fixing my bike, rode together for a bit or had a good laugh. Thanks guys! If you ever come to Belgium, I would do exactly the same!
A couple of days later if safely arrive in Kathmandu, the city between the mountains. It is quite amazing how big this city became, filling up the whole valley full of tiny streets, cosy vibes, great food and an amazing assortment of culture! Once again, thanks to the rider community, I can park my bike in the shed of a fellow rider for the coming weeks. This time we’ll use our own engine to go up the mountains, explore nature and gain new experiences…
We’re going trekking in the Himalayas!
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