On Cycling-10

Konsultramesh
6 min readFeb 8, 2023
Anandhan Rameshraja at the right extreme

On a metaphysical plane, the destination may be the same, but the route to that final point may be many. For instance, we all believe in one Super Power whom we call by different names and worship in different styles.

Even those who follow the same religion may differ in choosing their deity. There’s nothing wrong.

On Day 1 of our Cycle Yatra-1 from Chennai to Hosur, covering a distance of 300km, we faced an unexpected twist in the planning and execution.

After crossing Tambaram, say 20-odd kilometers from Marina beach from where we were flagged off, it was decided that we would halt within two kilometers for a breakfast halt at a decent restaurant.

Syed Kausar Hussain, in support Isuzu reefer, led the team. I am in my seven-gear cycle, and Virender Chaudhry (owner of Algor Supply Chain from Mumbai) brought up the rear in his new non-gear cycle.

A kilometer after the crowded Tambaram rail-cum-bus terminus blocking half of the highway, the traffic thinned. The support vehicle was nowhere in sight. Nor was Virender.

A fork presented itself in front of me. Take the bypass to reach Bengaluru. Otherwise, proceed straight to Trichi, the signboard suggested.

Since our destination was Hosur on the way to Bengaluru, I presumed the support vehicle took the Madhuravayal bypass route and expected Virender to follow suit.

I climbed down onto the bypass and pedaled for a few kilometers. The support vehicle was nowhere in sight. Nor Virender at the rear. Still, I pedaled, hoping to sight Kausar and the support vehicle.

Why take a risk? I halted on the roadside, watching the zooming traffic. Bypasses are prominent in Tamilnadu, and knew sighting of any shop to buy anything on this 18km stretch is next to impossible.

I patted my pant pocket and found to my horror, that I didn’t have my mobile phone or wallet. Except for the cycle and the water bottle, I have nothing else. Luckily, the weather gods were not hostile, thanks to the early morning rain in the nearby Chennai city.

It became clear that I had taken the wrong route. I should have gone on the Trichi road, which again would guide me to Walajabad and then on to Kanjeevaram and subsequently link me with the same NH48, which I would have entered even if I had ridden on the Maduravayal bypass through connection via the Vanagaram toll plaza.

Yes, there are multiple routes from Chennai to Bengaluru or Hosur. But the realization was a bit late. I lost track of my support vehicle and colleagues. I was left alone with no money and no phone. What to do?

Why not wave down some passing motorcyclists seeking their mobile phones just for a call? Not a bad idea.

Unluckily, none stopped despite my frantic waving. My bad luck. Good Samaritans don’t exist. I am not an accident victim. But a victim of my stupidity: why did I hand over my wallet and mobile phone to Kauisar before Tambaram?

Tweedling thumbs won’t bring relief. Never give up. Luckily, it was early morning — around 10 a.m. Not night. So no need for fear in the minds of wannabe Good Samaritans, if any.

I noticed a cyclist 100 meters away cycling in my direction. I waved at him. Actually, he halted on his own, noticing the geared cycle leaning against the iron barricades.

“Any problem?” He asked.

I narrated my nightmare. Or is it a daymare?

He is a regular cyclist with Strava linkage. Strava is an app that cycle hobbyists use to track their performance. Young Anandhan Rameshraja was god-sent. He understood my predicament. He gently chided me for my stupidity. You know what it is!

Unfortunately, his mobile battery was on its last legs. So the question of reaching out to my colleagues is a strict no-no. Then I realized that I didn’t remember the mobile numbers of my colleagues. In this digital age, we store numbers with their names and hardly remember any phone numbers. The only number I remember is my wife, 2600km away in Greater Noida.

But where is the mobile phone? Anandhan offered some biscuits, which I partook in. Not that I was hungry, but any kind gesture has to be acknowledged through acceptance. I did just that.

Then, Anandhan decided to help me by trying to wave and stop others. Again, met with failure for some time.

At last, a scooter rider halted. He was briefed about my predicament. He offered his phone. I called my spouse and got Kausar’s number via Whatsapp. I dialed him. He asked for the location. The friendly scooterist sent the location. Anandhan smiled and told me that relief was on the way. Nothing to worry about.

I thanked both, and they left. My wait began.

Well, the drama did not end.

An hour passed, and there was no sign of Kausar in the support vehicle. He cannot reach me. I cannot reach him because I have no phone.

Kausar began tracking the location given by the scooterist. That gentleman shared a live location — kept moving! Kausar was under the impression that the helper was standing next to me until his arrival. When he realized his stupidity, the scooterist switched off his mobile.

It is no use hanging around. I pedal, hoping to reach somewhere I can access a shop with a phone. I can request to pay for the phone via Gpay or PayTM. Such an option is not available where I am stranded.

Three kilometers later, I noticed a broken-down Innova with the green leaves of a tree branch signaling that car’s status. From a road safety perspective!

I knocked on the driver’s side glass and asked for help. Just a call on his mobile. He offered. I don’t have Kausar’s mobile number since I did not write it down on paper when she shared his number via WhatsApp.

Again I reached my wife. This time, Kausar’s mobile number was written down on paper borrowed from the broken-down Innova owner. He has been stranded since the previous day — Sunday, and no mechanic is available or not ready to work on a Sunday. He was equally pissed off with people not helping.

This time, I explained to Kausar that I was six km away from Vanagaram/Porur toll plaza and sent my location. Told him clearly, that the Innova phone was not to be tracked. My location: six km before the toll plaza is to be the marker.

Again no sign. Innova left. Enough of the drama.

I decided to pedal to reach the Toll Plaza. Sun was out and began to trouble me. Wind added grist and slowed down my pace. I huffed and puffed. Crossed a long ascending bridge. Five hundred meters away, I sighted the Toll Plaza. Hey Ram! Luckily, it was a descending pathway. Unpedaled, I reached the Toll Plaza. What a pleasure to ride climbing down!

I was hungry. Thirsty. Approached a roadside vendor selling juice. I told her I didn’t have money but would transfer via mobile before leaving. She nodded.

I drank two full glasses. Here again, there was a misunderstanding. She thought that I didn’t have cash but would pay digitally. She did not understand that I didn’t have a phone.

I told her not to worry. I kept the cycle next to her shop. Walked up to the next booth — a PayTM Fastag one.

Spoken to the young sales executive selling PayTM Fastag. Told him I wanted his phone to make a call.

I called Kausar and asked him to transfer 500 rupees immediately to the PayTM executive number to pay for the juice. Plus, I gave my location.

Thirty minutes, he arrived. I felt like dancing.

Still, the drama was not over. The money he transferred to the PayTM executive did not reach him. Kausar paid cash to the juice lady.

We waited another 10 minutes before the PayTM executive acknowledged the money receipt and paid Kausar cash.

I thanked the juice lady and PayTM executive, a Rajasthani-speaking fluent Tamil.

The biggest lesson I learned: Never separate from your mobile phone. Wallet, you can afford to detach. Not mobile. After all, mobile functions as a wallet too.

Before leaving the Vanagaram toll plaza, I hastily grabbed my mobile phone and wallet from Kausar. Never to be separated again!

When I rejoined Virender another hour later, waiting at a restaurant on the road to Trichi, we had a protein-rich egg sandwich and some juice.

What about breakfast? What breakfast? None.

Truly, it was “Nightmare on the Madhuravayal Bypass”!

On second thoughts, the writer in me was happy that some such tragedy transpired on the first day of cycle yatra for me to ventilate in words!

Sick minds, you say about writers? True maybe.

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Konsultramesh

An avid watcher & practitioner in the world of communication