We were supposed to start at 6 in the morning . Sharp .
As usual , I was late . A lot . So I called up the team to let them know that I would be late and asked them to get going . I would catch up with them at Hindusthan Hotel, around 60 kms from the city , where some flag off celebrations had been planned .
It was the 15th of August , 2015 .
By the time I had been able to pack up and dress up , it was 9 . And it started raining in torrents. Not just in buckets , it was as if whole tanks of water were being hosed down. The heaviest rain I had experienced in a while .
Would this be the right time to get started ? Or should I wait for the rain to get over ?
But then I remembered . This was just the beginning. I would have to endure much much more in the days ahead . If I stopped now , what would I be doing when I would have to ride in the snow ?
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I put on my rain poncho atop my riding gear , straddled my bags on the back seat , went through the checklist one final time . And realised I had left my main helmet , the one I was supposed to wear on this trip, at my store . My store is about 5 minutes away from my residence. But Opening and then closing the elaborate system of locks and shutters is always time-consuming . And I was late . By 3 hours already. I debated going with the simple helmet I had at home but then remembered that I would have to be using the best helmet possible for this long a ride . Comfort, Safety, Visibility and Durability – all mattered. So I went to my store, picked up the helmet and returned home to bid a hasty goodbye to my family .
At around 9.45 , I was off . The torrential rain , almost sweeping me off . Very little visibility . In my Bajaj Avenger 180 motorcycle. Down the streets of Kolkata , past the AJC Bose Road flyover , astride the Vidyasagar Setu spanning the River Hooghly , and onto the Kona Expressway leading onto the National Highway 19 ( previously NH 2) towards Dankuni.
Dankuni is a small suburb of Kolkata , around 30 kms from Vidyasagar Setu on the NH19. One after the other, I rode the many flyovers leading to Dankuni.
And then … as I climbed the last flyover before Dankuni, my bike … puttered to a stop. And it wouldnt start. I tried time and again , but the engine would just crank up and doze off .
And then it went completely silent. Not even 30 kms from home.