After a late lunch I find my mechanical mount and start back towards civilization. I leave the limits of the camel fair and into a brewing sandstorm. Long distance visibility is down a bit, and the stinging sand against my skin isn’t pleasant, but I can still make out the road safely. It is on this road from Naguar to Jodhpur I run into my first of motorcycle problems, where only a few minutes into the desert I run out of gasoline!
When I rented it they told me how much petrol to put in for the trip, so I am completely taken off guard by this surprise. I can only assume they were talking about a one-way trip, but this communication mishap left my journey half a tank short of! A dreadful creeping fear that I’ll be stuck on a desert road starts to take me while I search the dusty horizons in hope of salvation.
Luckily, another biker rides along side and offers me a lift to the petrol station a few kilometers away. We return to my bike with a liter of fuel, but before I have the chance to thank him, he starts demanding a gift. It seems that nothing less than my whole backpack will appease him and he begins to get a bit aggressive. I start the motorcycle and quickly depart away from the threat. This person offering help only as an opportunity for extortion is a bit depressing and a real contradiction to the standard of random kindness I’ve found elsewhere in India. I increase the distance and keep looking over my shoulder to see if he is following, but he never appears.
A dose of petrol and another hour on the road, the bike stalls out and won’t start. At first I wonder if there is a gas leak, but there is still liquid in the tank. Then engine is warm, but not overheating. Further investigations find that the spark plug is cracked and that feeling of being deserted in the desert creeps back. What curse does this bike have on it anyway?
Life seeks to balance the equation using my new motorcycle problem to show that the Rajasthanis are not all bad. The road has a few buildings a kilometer back, but before I start my walk to them another biker pulls up on a similar motorcycle. He happens to have a spare spark plug and is willing to give it to me for an insignificant price! I thank him profusely and finish the ride back to Jodhpur. I am still happy to have taken the motorcycle today. The problems I’ve encountered have only made it more adventurous!
. . .
Just before the falling sun clears the horizon, I make a stop at the Umaid Bhawan Palace for a couple quick photos. It’s a nice place, but the stress and long riding have worn me out. I decide to call it a day and head back to the rental place, but I’m distracted with a diversion on the way when I spot a large structure swarming with locals. The modern building is fronted by an outdoor food court with a festive atmosphere and just calls to me, so I pull into the crowd of other parked vehicles to investigate further.
Inside, I find a bargain-price discount super-store, kind of like Walmart. But there is no haggling involved here, and the relatively low Indian prices make this a worthwhile shopping stop. I browse through the assortment of weird clothes, fancy linens, miscellaneous books and coveted souvenirs and stock up a small bundle of favorites. Satisfied with my new acquisitions, I cheerfully make my way back to the parking lot… where I find the motorcycle in absence!
A kindly police officer informs me that it was towed for being in a no parking zone while I glare back to the lot where I left it. There are still a ton of other cars and motorcycles just as before. I don’t want to provoke him any further by requesting the explanation as to why it was singled out, so I grudgingly take his advice to visit the police impound lot.
What a day. I’ve been craving some adventure, and here it is. Complete with speeding through the desert, odd cultural situations and enough obstacles to fill a day with challenge. Fortunately, the police waive the $100 fine and I am allowed to make my way back to the hotel. On the way, a smile lights my face as I imagine meeting my friends over beers on the rooftop and having to answer to “How was your day?” Even when it seems difficult, life is still pretty good!
Tags: - Photography, - Transport & Travel, - Transport: Motorcycle, Asia, Desert, India, India: Rajasthan, Motorcycle, Rajasthan