Agumbe: Ignoring the omens

Thursday, November 20, 2014 Unknown 0 Comments

Unlike my other travelogues, this post isn't going to help you plan a trip in any way whatsoever. This is a personal account of an exciting journey that I had set out on with some of my friends. Writing this had given me a chance to relive that thrilling day and I do hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did while typing it.

On the eve of August 6, which was a holiday owing to NITK’s Institute Foundation Day, 7 of my classmates and I formed a plan to hire bikes and ride to a nearby hill station named Agumbe. Cops, breakdowns, relentless rains, a fainting friend: What we imagined to be a slow leisurely monsoon ride ended up becoming a luckless and yet, exciting adventure.

Here’s a timeline of the events that took place after we woke up on the morning of the 6th.

Bike Clinic (Near Pumpwell Circle), Mangalore
Contact them on +91 98 86 114622 to hire bikes

0900: We wake up at 9 instead of 6 and reach the bike rental garage only two hours later at 11. Overestimated ourselves, didn't we?

1100: The manager at the garage asks for photocopies of our IDs before renting us his bikes. Sukruth and Ashutosh leave to look for a shop to get it done. An hour passes and they still haven’t returned. Things start to get tense.

1230: They return at last. Turns out there was this blackout at the shop and BOTH of them had funnily forgotten to take their cell phones from college!

1300: Didn't have enough money on us to pay the advance. Bhojwani, Nirlendu and I go to 3 different ATMs. Funnily, they’re all out of order! Thankfully, the next one we go to isn't.

1400: 4 bikes for the 8 of us. 10 minutes into our journey, we’re going uphill on the Chowki flyover when the bike that Bhojwani and I are on unexpectedly breaks down! We push the bike to a service station where the mechanics tell us that it would take them 2 hours to get it repaired.

1600: We have lunch and return relieved that we're able to start at last when we get yet another shocker: Nirlendu falls unconscious!

He had forced himself to come on this trip despite not feeling well. Sukruth holds him close and rushes him back to NITK on his bike. Seeing that the plan was going nowhere, 3 of our friends decide to quit, hand back their bikes and return.

Bhojwani and I were in no mood to give up yet though. We choose to head back, meet Sukruth and Premi and then plan our next move.

1800: We decide to continue with the plan even if it’s just the four of us. The initial plan was to return from Agumbe at 1800 and here we were starting our journey at the same time!

1830: We're passing by Padubidri and it starts to pour heavily. Very heavily. We consider getting back while we still can but then decide against it. 

Start of the journey
Breakdown at Chowki
Rains at Padubidri

1930: Drenched, we halt at Manipal, hoping to continue after the rains subside. Instead, they only get worse. Spent the next 4 hours in Dollops.

0000: People in Manipal had warned us against travelling to Agumbe at night since the area was a Naxal-affected one but we hadn't come this far for nothing had we? We mount our bikes again. 

0100: We’re passing by this locality named Hiriyadka when 2 policemen gesture us to stop our bikes. They ask for the bikes’ papers and we realize that we had forgotten to take them from garage’s manager! The cops scold us and tell us to get back quickly before we could get caught by a senior officer.

We restart our bikes and it starts to rain heavily again. We turn them off and stand under a shelter. A police jeep approaches us and stops right next to our bikes. Our worst fears are confirmed. It’s the Superintendent himself!

After learning about us not having the bikes’ documents, he asks us to hand over their keys and get inside the jeep. We negotiate with him in the rain while he sits comfortably inside his vehicle. In the end, he pardons us, seizes our IDs instead and threatens to contact our Dean unless we hand over the papers the following morning.

0200: Drenched and disheartened, we ride back to Manipal, stop near an ATM, remove our soaked t-shirts and shiver in the cold trying to dry them. 4 shirtless college boys outside an ATM must have looked fishy, for another police jeep came towards us.

The cops get out of their vehicle and shout at us to put on our t-shirts and get the hell out of Manipal!

0230: We ride to Udupi. A short distance from the bus stand, the bike that Sukruth and Premi are on comes to a halt: The fuel tank’s empty. Could our luck get any worse today?!

We tinker with the tank a bit and manage to start the bike and take it to the bus stand. Bhojwani and I roam around the town to learn that the first petrol pump was to open only at 6. We’re stranded!

0300: We’re back at the bus stand. A few moments of silence and we see another police jeep coming towards us. Desperate not to be forced out of Udupi, we explain our plight to the cops and manage to convince them that we weren't up to anything at all. Exhausted, I sit quietly on one of the seats and fall asleep only to be awoken by Premi’s scream of delight an hour later.

0400: Unable to sleep, Premi had dismantled the bikes and managed to find their papers. There was now nothing to stop us from getting to Agumbe! Apart from the fuel, that is. We wait till dawn.

0600: Breakfast at a shack. We depart after refuelling our bikes. An hour later, we’re in the Hiriyadka Police Station to collect our IDs, ignoring the cops’ hour long lecture.

Outside Hiriyadka Police Station

Riding in the rain

0800: 20 kilometres away from Agumbe and that’s when the chain of our bike breaks!

We take the bike to a mechanic near this town named Hebri. While he asks to wait, we go to a restaurant, have breakfast and fall asleep on the tables there.

1000: The bike's been fixed but proceeding to Agumbe now would mean that we’d have to exceed the 24 hour window we were given to return our bikes. We’re in no mood to pay a fine and hence decide to head back to Mangalore. Biker boys Bhojwani and Sukruth take the wheel and race along the NH 66 at 100 kmph to get us back on time.

Temporary halt near Hebri
Sleeping inside the restaurant
Crossing 100 kmph

1200: Bhojwani and I are now ahead of the other bike and we’re passing by our college. Well, the world had to know what we were up to didn’t they? ;-) We enter the college and proceed to the academic blocks in a bid "to be seen" when a car a few metres behind us sounds its horn. We look behind only to discover that the man inside the car is the Dean himself! Bhojwani rides the bike through the gaps left by people leaving for lunch and dashes to the nearest exit of the college. Close shave!

1215: We’re passing by Mangalore Port when Bhojwani confesses to me that he had just fallen asleep for a few seconds while riding the bike. Frightened, I start talking about the most mundane of things just to keep him awake.

Bhojwani and his stunts :P
Premi with the bikes
Bhojwani & me: Selfie on the NH 66

1230: An hour left to return the bikes. We’re 5 kilometres from the garage and it’s now our bike’s turn to run out of gas! Bhojwani and I push it to a nearby petrol pump and request the workers to fill petrol worth a meager 20 rupees. Why pay the manager more after all? :P

1300: 2 kilometres to go. We’re at a roundabout near Kadri without our helmets on. A policewoman blows her whistle and signals to us. We speed away in the opposite direction!

We then put our helmets on and return to the roundabout hoping that we wouldn't be recognized but I think we had almost forgotten how jinxed we were that day: The cop blows her whistle again. Bhojwani accelerates while I lower my bag to hide the number plate :P

1315: 500 metres away and we get a call from Premi. They've been detained by the cops who want to see their bike’s papers. Turns out their papers were with us!

1330: We return both bikes and have lunch hoping that our bus wasn't going to crash on its way to college :P


Funnily, the fact that ill-omened things just kept happening to us during our unfinished journey to Agumbe ended up giving us yet another experience we would always remember. How true that travel isn't about the destination! SoSpeakUpNow!, push yourself to set out on these trips and forge all those unforgettable memories!