“Aditya, you need to change that code now. If we don’t change it before we give it for System Testing, we are doomed!” My Team Lead rants over the phone. It was the same old thing, I knew it would be this when I joined Infosys. “Ok, I’ll try my best to do it…… ” and then I glanced on to my watch. 20:05. “Hey I’m already late for home, can I do this by Monday?” I asked. “O Aditya. You know how important this change is.” She said. After a pause “Ok, but you gotta come as early as possible. When can you come? Your usual time of 11 in the morning should not happen”. Oh what the heck, I thought. “I’ll come by 9 sharp, Ok?” I offered. “Ok better come by that time, otherwise I won’t have time even to tell you the code changes”. And off I went. Shutdown my computer, picked up the headphones and the charger, and after 20 minutes I was at the station, munching on the peanuts. The train came and I, as usual, hopped on at the last moment and stood by the wide open door, or on the footboard. I put on the headphones and started playing my favorite for the moment – “Good Girls Gone Bad”. As the train swiftly moved, I saw the road. The wide open road. Very few vehicles were travelling on it. The 4-lane GST was almost empty, and I wondered how wonderful it would be to ride on Schwinn through these roads, the weather was perfect, cold breeze flowing by me. And then it struck like a bolt of lightning. Why not ride now?
It was wild. The wildest idea I have ever had in the past few months. Riding on my Schwinn in the middle of the night through the dark lanes of the GST? It was very tempting! I hadn’t ridden for weeks, maybe months you can say. The prospect of me getting up early to get a good decent ride through the GST without much interruption was growing dimmer after the initial first month. Either I had stay up all night doing some code or chats, or work hangs me from getting proper sleep, mosquitoes and dreams alike ready to disrupt my sleep. Yeah, I maintain that you need proper sleep before you can think about such a ride. It’s dangerous riding on these highways especially with druck drivers driving the massive lorries. It’s been just too long a time for me to hold on to not riding. And the clear sky, the bright moonlight, the cool breeze and the empty roads, there was no stopping me from hopping on to the Schwinn and ride!
And so at quarter past 12, midnight, I stealthily took out my Schwinn. My roommates were giving the CAT exam the next exam and I really don’t want to disturb them cuz of my adventure. The weather was the best, but there were few spine-chilling barks from the street dogs outside. Nevertheless, I set out for what would be my first real night ride!
The first few minutes were just, I’m going to be honest here, intriguing. Cows near blocked the path from my house to main road, packs of dogs howling and barking as usual and few people moving here around, probably going back home after tiring day at work, unaware that a crazy rider is about to start his journey! I was wearing the fluorescent yellow over coat for the first time, obvious that it’s a necessary precautionary measure for riding in the night. I did not fit the headlights and now I realize how important it is. The interior roads for the most part were lit, but those which weren’t were pretty darn dark! As I entered the Perungalathur junction, a group of policeman, apparently patrolling for the night, called me up “Thambi, stop there”. A sort of nervousness got into me, I guess when you are stopped by a policemen in the middle of night you are bound to. So the police started interrogating me as to what am I doing at this time of the night and where am I going. Then they went on advising me that crimes have increased in the area and that I shouldn’t be around. When I assured them that I will be riding along the GST and I’ll be back, they let me go. And feeling like a free bird I raced away to the GST and crossed to the other lane of the road, the one that goes away from Chennai. As is the case the lanes weren’t empty, on the contrary it was filled with trucks and buses plying on the midnight stretch. But nothing bothered as rode along, feeling more confident and focussed as ever. The latter surely is very very important.
Focus is everything here. One inch outside the shoulders of the road and you are guaranteed to be killed. So I kept focus on the road ahead as it wasn’t without potholes and tricky sand/loose soil. The path I had in mind was the 25.5km from Perungalathur through Vandalur, Urapakkam, Guduvancherry to Potheri and back. It was indeed a strange but refreshing feeling riding in the darkness sometimes. And darkness I tell you, there are many stretches which aren’t lit and tree cover makes it impossible for moonlight to shine on the path. This for me is scary. But I rode, All Izz Well… 😉 As I past Guduvancherry, I started feeling the first signs of fatigue. Having not gone for a ride for quite a long time, it seems pretty obvious that it wasn’t easy for me. But then I held myself and focussed on to getting that one opening in the highway to switch lanes and go back. And 40 minutes after I began I was there, in front of the SRM University. I got down and my lower body was pretty numb. My palms were deep red and my neck started to ache a bit. But it was totally great feeling, one I missed for a long time. And now it was time back home.
The fatigue has really caught on me. As I slowly began from where I have left off, the whole body was aching and my mind was giving me suggestions to take more rest. After quite a struggle I managed to bring myself back on track and put my focus solely on getting me back home. And what a change that made! In less than 20 minutes I rode past the railway gates of the Perungulathur station, past the Policemen and to my home. It was a very satisfying journey, and I remarked that to a very frightened street dog in front of the gate. I stealthily got my cycle back upstairs and had a good nice bath. Heading back to the bedroom, my friends were sound asleep. I joined them in the middle with the feeling that I have taken the Schwinn out for one of the best rides yet, and that it came of one of the most frustrating days at the office made it even more special.
2:35. It’s time for rest I deserve. Adios!