Zen rides

Once again, I set out to Shravanabelagola, on my bike. As always there was the backdrop of protests and fears about riding on highways. But promises of regular calls seem to assuage those fears, will know only later. But this is not about that.

Most rides, I approach with a list of things to think about, a la ZAMM with his “chautauquas”. Except that, none of that ever happens. If only I had the ability to control my thoughts. Most times, you’re aware of where you are, noting down the places – that amazing hillock framed by fluffy clouds, those shops, more hillocks and the tiny sheds or temples on top of them (“who goes there?”) and sometimes just “Will it rain?!”. There are moments when thoughts that you had held back bubble up to the surface – about all the problems you’d like to have solved, and how there never seems to be any solution for them. But then, such is life eh?

If am with my cousin on his super-bike, most thoughts start with catching up and not making him wait too much. But then, of course, my bike can’t be made to go any faster, so the flow resumes. Maybe, this is why I like bike rides. The flow of thoughts without needing any prodding, and a part always engaged with the act of riding itself – the need to overtake slower vehicles, while watching out for faster ones, it’s slightly trickier with my bike where the speed I maintain is around 80 km/hr and most cars can get to 100 easily.

So I made my way to Belagola and was there in quick time. I climbed up in 15 minutes flat – climbing 10 floors every day has definitely helped. After doing the obligatory visit to the shrine, I made my way down to my spot – the Mantapa away from the beaten track. I sat there for 30 minutes. Doing nothing, but watching the clouds flit by, watching an insect come close to me and then moving away – trying not to think any thoughts, especially none of return. There was nobody else around, as always. A place with a view, no one around, what more can you ask for?

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I did shoot a time-lapse video though, of the clouds moving East.

Long time back, I remember reading an article about a guy who has a favourite rock in Gokarna, where he goes and sits as often as he can. I never thought I’ll accumulate such places myself – but I guess its worth having some – places where you can just be, with no one else noticing your presence or impinging upon you in any way.  The key would always be silence – the coast or a hill, or a forest. Silence defined by the lack of human noises. Something increasingly hard to come by.

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I made my way back, deciding to try out a new road, from Shravanabelagola to Nagamangala. It went amazingly well for the first 10-15 Kms and then the rest of the 31 Kms left me badly shaken as the road was mostly patched up, and I had to bump along from one patch to the next. I was back home sooner than I thought. The constant fear of rains in Bangalore doesn’t help me much. But, until the next time…

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