Diu – A place that etched itself into my memory easily for many reasons..
-My first long trip ( 986 km the trip meter read )
-My first trip to Gujarat
-A challenging ride
-Diu itself !
For people who have a memory like mine ( which has frequent synaptic failures ), Diu is a Union Territory – a part of India that was acquired to the Republic post Independence. The term ‘Union Territory’ itself should give you ideas on why we chose this destination, but no, Diu has places you’d want to see and a weather in June that you just can’t miss.
My brother Mano ( comrade 1 of this trip ) is working in a company based out of Gujarat. Thanks to Spicejet for their offer and hence the trip(and no thanks for the poor leg room and delayed departure). Atul ( comrade 2 of the trip ) on seeing the post in FB about our trip was willing to join and the ‘Diu Trio’ , all pumped up, started off at 4 AM on 25th June with two bikes and three of us with Blu – RE Classic 350 and Thandoo ( that’s what Atul’s named it) – RE Thunderbird 500 . We had planned to take the Bhavnagar route and Atul was familiar with this route as it was his second trip to Diu. We were averaging 80 and planned to stop every one hour. Mano rode the first hour and it started to dawn slowly. Such rides in the early part of the day are so refreshing – the chill breeze and the sun waking up for the world. It is rare I believe, to see a flock of birds in ‘V’ formation to fly as low as 7 feet. I was the pillion rider for a while and was fortunate to see this flock flying just inches away from me. Probably, they felt so free because there was no human habitat or interfering towers ( disturbance ) for around 30 Kms.
When we stopped near Pachchegam for a break, everything was all good and fine. A tea and some water, we geared up and I started riding. I have no clue if this was a bad omen or jinx, it began to drizzle in 20 minutes. We had anticipated rains but not a downpour. Poor planning on the luggage and we had to borrow a Maize flour bag ( maidha maavu saaku ) to cover the luggage. Atul was all prep and he had no trouble with the rains. It was me and Mano and I am sure he is blaming me right this very second ( Come on bro ! ). Nevertheless, the ride was on !
There were rains now and then but we were relentless just like the rain. None of us had second thoughts or even the slightest idea for a long break. It was a Saturday and most of the shops were closed. Breakfast was interesting at 11 AM. I don’t what they call that oil fried pakora there – but that was all we could get – a plate of it, three teas and a plate of onions. Food was so tasty then for us.
This route covered the interior parts of Gujarat. We could see a lot of people with the traditional Gujarati outfits. It really felt good when many stared at us – some with amazement, asking us where we were from, our plans and a few looked at us with pity because of the rains. Rain was also determined to test us. But we waved it off and kept riding.
When we were heading towards Una, 80 kms before Diu, I was riding the Thunder bird ( averaging 90 kmph ) and a small piece of iron flung and nearly brushed my face. It was from BLU’s carrier on which we had mounted our bag ( with maize flour cover ). Our luggage was about to fall and it might have even pulled them down. I sped ahead and stopped the other two and there was our bitter realization. The luggage set-up on BLU had miserably failed. We had to mount all the luggage on THANDOO and started off again.
It was raining cats and dogs. Mist was covering the helmet pane and visibility was getting low even at 12.30 PM in the afternoon. We had to wipe the helmet every two minutes. The breeze had gone and it was windy, slightly making the balance heavier. We had to maintain the average – 80kmph and we did not plan for any stop between Una and Diu. This was the last stretch of riding and I was riding THANDOO with the luggage. The bungee cords were taut enough but I had to be a little cautious.(because if they got loose, they might whip your back – peeling off shirt – and even flesh if you were very unfortunate).
I have often heard people saying that only the journey mattered and the destination did not. I agree, although partly, because when we saw the arch that said ‘Welcome to Diu’, we felt a satisfaction and raised our thumbs up to each other. If rain hadn’t played its part, we wouldn’t have felt that rush and excitement. We had made it to Diu around 1 PM – ( 8 hours from Ahmedabad covering 420 + kms ).
There is a small bridge that connects the North and South Diu ( or two parts of it ). The ride and sight on this bridge was awesome – simply because of the sea and the breeze. We were easily able to find the hotel because it’s one of those that gave a sea-view and we specifically looked for one with it. We reached there all muddied up, completely wet, tired but also thrilled. It took us an hour to refresh. We simply enjoyed our lunch, the view and the rains. It was an open restaurant just on the road opposite the beach. It was still drizzling but everything was just … cool !!
We dozed off before getting back on the road. It was drizzling sometimes – the kind of drizzle when you don’t need to look for shelter. A ride in such a drizzle is always refreshing if the roads are good and there is less traffic. Everyone looked happy, some shops were busy with customers and we were striding around. We went to the bridge again. Man, what a place that is. We thought it was time we needed new dps for our profiles and stopped for some clicks.
The next day, I was up early and went out for a coffee in the sea-view restaurant below our hotel when it was still drizzling. We had no agenda or any plan for that matter. There is only one fort that was built centuries ago by the Portuguese – this is some place you shouldn’t miss. We got a few more profile pics there and then started off to the Naida caves in Diu. There is some symmetry in these caves that seem out of the world. This is a natural formation I believe and it is another must-visit place in Diu. The day was moving slowly. We had lunch, rode around the small island part of Diu ( connected only through that bridge). We were back in the fort for sometime and had a lengthy conversation. I’d say that the Sunday evening at the fort till 8 PM was the fruit of the trip.The evening was fun – we were exploring some eat-outs and looked for ice creams, thalis, kulfis and what not ! ( Atul and Mano – try remembering the ‘Goindasaamy comedy ! ). We found a very good restaurant for dinner and it was sumptuous. It was 1 AM when we got back to the hotel. We need to rest because the next day was our day back home – we needed to travel 520+ kilometers from Diu to Ahmedabad.
The final day of the trip – we saddled up and started off at 11.30 AM. It was hurting a little to part with Diu – more like seeing off a friend at the end of a fun-filled weekend. But good things stay good only when they are momentary and short-lived and we geared up. The plan was to cover Somnath and then detour to Rajkot highway to Ahmedabad. Somnath was 80kms from Diu – covering some interior remote areas of Gujarat but had some beautiful roads. These areas are like old paintings – grey and still, life was in slo-mo I believe.
We could average only 80kmph because it was not a NH. It was around 1 PM when we halted for lunch. Mano suggested a good place for lunch at Somnath – a hotel run by the Somnath Trust. A delicious thali at 80 bucks – was filling. Some say that one should be fortunate to get Shiva’s dharshan at Somnath. Our schedule did not permit us for the dharshan. ( A few more decades’ time is available and that’s more than enough for my Somnath dharshan ).
At 2.15, we were back on the roads and I got to ride. Such a great and maintained highway – we averaged 100 in some areas and stopped at every 1 hour. By the time we crossed Rajkot, it was almost 6 PM. We were right on schedule because we had targeted to reach Ahmedabad at 8.30. The dinner was in a road-side hotel where I had ‘Dhal Khadi’ and the other two chose South-Indian – for they wanted it at least once in the trip. It was 9.15 and we had almost come to the end of the trip.
The ‘ciao’ moment at Mano’s apartment – we raised the thumbs up and hugged before Atul left for his home. We were tired for sure, but there was an overwhelming satisfaction – this was the first of the many trips to come. It really felt good and still does !!
I have always loved bike rides. Before Diu, it was all the shorter trips in my FZ-S, the maximum being 300 kms ( to and fro ). But this was the first long ride – there are so many take-aways from a trip like this. It boosts a little confidence in us – especially when you are riding when the weather isn’t very favoring. We have read about all the diversity but visiting the places for real, makes us understand why it is good to be a part of such diverse cultures. It also kindles the hunger to visit the other parts of the country. For one, Gujarati’s enjoy their lives -so simple, less greedy. They are contended with what they want and peek into others’ lives when necessary. But the oxy-moronic part is, they have such good roads and very little road sense!!
Mano has been making me jealous already with his rides and there is a lot to catch up. The name ‘rubberneck’ that we use to call ourselves sure will have a meaning because a rubberneck is one who is very curious , likes roads, food and people.
A customary also heart-felt note of thanks to everyone with whom we kept on sharing our locations and to those who helped us with directions and tips.
Photo session recap !