Last week I had a meeting with the Chairman of the WIAA - the organisation that gives out the necessary paperworks to cross borders with your own vehicle.
We met again a week later, I handed him another 200,000 rupees in cash (wtf) and I received my Carnet-de-Passage. My RC (Registration Card) of the bike I’d already managed to get the day before. Apparently that little thing had been laying around in a post-office for two weeks and then got sent back to the issuing authority. Classic.
Conclusion: all the paperworks are complete - I can start riding!
Loading her up
I love traveling light. But when you are traveling by motorbike - not. possible. The bike herself weighs 191 kilograms - before loading her up like a donkey. With all the spare parts that I’m bringing, plus 10 liters extra fuel - she weighs close to 230 kilograms.
Basically, I’m bringing half a motorbike in spares. Spare chain, clutch plates including housing, 2 tubes front tyre, 2 tubes back tyre, brake pads, 2 clutch cables, accelerator cable, 2 air filters, 3 oil filters, fuses and 2 liters of engine oil.
Basanti can break down all the time (Please don’t though) - I’m prepared.
Riding with a fully loaded motorbike does requires some getting used to. The balance is completely different and going around sharp corners not so smooth anymore (working on that..). But the best way to get into it - is RIDING!
Delhi - Mathura (183 km)
Don’t go crazy on day 1 - is what I thought. As my first destination I picked Mathura. Close to Agra - famous for its Taj Mahal - and at just 183 kilometers from Delhi, it still took 3,5 hours to reach. Driving fast is just not on the cards in India. Cows, dogs (and people) cross the road at any given time. Like some sort of suicide squad. What is wrong with them?!
Leaving Delhi after spending a full month sorting out paperworks and working on the bike was the best feeling ever. I am a traveller. I move. Sitting around and waiting for a month is not my cup of tea! In my eagerness to leave Delhi, I didn’t even have breakfast. No food, no water; just drive!
I came to regret that poor decision soon enough, but luckily, several dhabas lined the road. After a nice meal of Aloo Parantha (my favourite Indian breakfast!) - I rode the last 100 kilometers before reaching Mathura.
Holy city of Mathura
Mathura is the birthplace of Lord Krishna and it attracts millions of pilgrims each year. It is one of the Sapta Puri - seven cities Hindus consider holy. The holy river Yamuna runs right past town, and temples, both old and new are dotted around the city.
Riding a bike into town as a foreigner was a sight that was new to most people. Clearly. As soon as I stopped at the first guesthouse I saw - a crowd gathered to check me out. I could park Basanti inside a (extremely dusty) garage, which was better than on the streets. But I had to make an awkward turn to ride in, and my palms were dripping with sweat as a group of men had gathered to watch me make my move.
I pleaded to the people. “Please go on with your lives. Please stop watching me. PLEASE!”
It didn't help.
I managed to ride the bike inside without falling on my face. Thank goodness.
Mathura proved to be a highly photogenic place and wandering around the streets was rewarding. The city is slowly being taken over by monkeys though. So if you are slightly petrified of monkeys (like me) - use your zoom lens to capture them, but KEEP YOUR DISTANCE.