91 months ago

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- Route

Dooar Hills to Purnea

Distance: 242.0 Km / 150.8 Mi Duration: 05:15:41


I was up by 4:00am and ready to leave my room by 5:00. Eager to hit the road as I had a very long run, I was aiming Patna which was 520 kms away. There is no decent town in between that I could halt overnight. It is the notorious Bihar that I had to cross through. There was nobody at the reception to check me out or get my luggage that early from my room a kilometre away. I walked to the reception leaving the bag behind to find all the Mahindra adventurers up and bright for their Bhutan adventure. It was their first day and there was a bustle at the foyer. Somehow I got my checkout done around 6:15am and when I was leaving the premise Raj Kapoor (the organiser of the tour) was giving a last brief on what to expect during the ride. I had to weave through their briefing wishing them luck. I envied the lot as I would have loved to be on that adventure too.

When I came out of the hotel premise and riding downhill the horizon had mist over the forest it looked beautiful. I hit Chalsa town and saw hordes of ladies brightly dressed in a procession as it was Chat puja. Its a big thing for all Biharis's and North Indians. I went over a bridge and saw that tons of them had assembled in the river below. They would break their fast after sunrise and offered their puja to it. Then they would dip in the river and break their fast.

I was on a proper highway heading towards the forest through after which I had to cross the Teesta river bridge at Jalpaiguri. My GPS decided to save some minutes by diverting me through the shortcuts of a tea garden. At first the roads looked and felt amazing hence I did not bother. Later on I realised as the roads deteriorated that I should have stuck to the main road. I went through most of the tea gardens on the hills with a dry riverbed on one side. The roads then eventually disappeared and I found myself on a dirt road. The tea gardens started thinning out at the forest land started to become obvious. Its at moment like these I question myself "what am I doing". Its the forest of wild elephants & one horn Rhinos and an encounter so early in the morning would not have been an endearing one. The good thing was once a while I would cross tribals walking who had a surprised look seeing me. The moment I would stop they would vanish into the foliage. Finally the dirt road lead me to an open gate which eventually got me back on the forest highway. With a sigh of relief I carried on and made it eventually through Jalpaiguri over the River Teesta Bridge to mainland India. There are two routes to enter or exit the Northeast one is through the coronation bridge from Sevok and the other is Jalpaiguri. I had entered from one and exited from another. Mission accomplished. It was West Bengals turn to welcome me with love and they greeted me with a road test. They offered me roads that had so many pot holes that I had to stick to riding on the dirt lane while breathing in the dust I was raking. At Fulbari Goshpukur Bypass I came upon a canal that was created to divert the river water to farmlands which did not have easy water access. Thanks to its existence the road running parallel to it was in great shape. When the channel ended so did the road and so did my happiness.

Somewhere post Kishanganj the border of Bihar starts and its so obscure that one would miss it if not alert. A few kilometres later there are lots of barricades on the road and every vehicle has to stop before entering. Bihar has lately become a dry state which means liquor consumption or sale is banned here. It is so strict that if caught consuming or selling you get non bailable jail terms. It has become a big issue with many as it is seen as curbing ones freedom to choose but the ban has stayed on. Due to this every vehicle is searched. My vehicle did not seem to have the space to carry anything other than me hence I was asked to move on without a check. The efficiency of the barricaded post is such that it does not cause any traffic jam. The roads started to improve and it kept getting better. It was around 10:00 I had tea and biscuits for breakfast. I was feeling famished and within a hour I was looking for a good place to stop for an early lunch. I was nearing Purnea and had just crossed a toll booth when I decided to have my tyre pressure checked. It was coincidental that I got a call for Vinay Baldev Kalia who is one TV's stalwart production designer congratulating me on my one-man mad mission. Thats when the boy who was about to check the tyre pressure informed me of leakage.

The ground beneath the bike was wet with green fluid. I once again had a radiator pipe issue. The makeshift pipe that I had managed to put could not handle the fluid pressure or the temperature thus it split open. Fortunately Mohammed the mechanic had a shop right next to the tyre shop & we pushed the bike into his garage. He opened the pipe and searched the whole Purnea for a solution but could not find any. This being a small town people tend to go for the duplicate stuff to save on money. The chance of getting original spares of any Indian make vehicle were close to negligible said Mr. Gulab the owner of the biggest auto spare outlet in the city. We got a make shift pipe after a search of 3 hours which I do not think will last me more than 100kms. So I called up the Triumph Roadside Assistance and spoke to Shabrez. I told him what the problem was and asked him to send the mechanic with the radiator pipes for Rocket III. To cut the story short I learnt that the roadside assistance is basically a tow service from the area of your breakdown to the nearest dealer workshop. IT DOES NOT SEND ANY MECHANIC TO HELP YOU RECTIFY YOUR PROBLEM. I am surely going to cancel my yearly membership of the assistance as I think its money down the drain. Its SUMBLY a VERY BAD IDEA. (Pun intended) Mr Shabrez was supposed to call me back and tell me if how he would sort my problem. The gentleman never called back this is Sumbly not done.

I made SOS call to the Calcutta dealership, Atul in Bombay & they could not find a single radiator pipe of the premiere Triumph vehicle (Rocket III) with any dealership nor in stock in the corporate office stores. Thats a shame and this has happened to me twice. Triumph does not have spares in stock for its premiere vehicle. They want us to buy it, use it and then when it comes to their part replacement during servicing its when they inform they have no spares. Before I embarked on my journey in August I had my bike fully serviced in the Bombay showroom, got new set of tyres and rode not expecting problems. I faced my first problem in Chennai when I limped in with a clutch problem which the local dealership got it rectified this happened after 1400kms. My second problem started after 3700kms in calcutta and thats when I had my ECM changed. I lost 25 days in the bargain. When my ECM had gone bad they rectified it after 25 days. Thanks to Triumphs stupid way of handling logistics I missed out on the Puja ride and could not see how the Dusshera festival is celebrated across East India. This happened in Calcutta due to lack of spares and it had to be shipped from England and I had to bear the Tab of 65 thousand + labor + taxes. Now they want me to send the bike to the nearest dealer (Calcutta) who does not have the part anyways to replace it. So Triumph wants their customer to wait as per their convenience since my needs are not their priority. I wish Triumph guys Sumbly had a good guy to lead it and not guys with ego to throw back at their clients.

I have put a makeshift pipe and somehow rode the bike with care till the nearest hotel. I am waiting for Atul from Bombay to help me with a solution so that I can ride till Bombay. I have invested a lot of days, time & money in this I will not give up now. I have also called Zubin Ponnappa to help me with ideas as the manufacturing company cannot help me since its not their policy to have parts in stock. Lets see how this plays out tomorrow, I am sure I will ride to Bombay. I am not expecting any help from Triumph and I am sure I do not want their free towing service read Roadside Assistance which I have paid for. If it comes to giving up I shall pay for my tow and get my baby back myself.

I lugged my mechanic Mohammed with me to the hotel. I have checked into Hotel Shri Nayak which is on the main highway that runs through the city. The hotel is like the set of a scary movie and this too is an experience. Mohammed the mechanic and myself were starving and we had food together at around 6:00pm. I hope my intestines do not start a running protest tomorrow, I am already spread thin with my problems. The make shift radiator-pipe will not last long and hence I need a better solution. Hopefully that comes with the dawn tomorrow as good news. I believe I shall be riding back to Bombay lets see how this plays out.

Total distance covered today 278 kms Total Distance from Bombay 7809 kms

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