It was only 10 AM in the morning but it was sizzling hot. The sun was beating down on my head and I stood alone on a deserted back road near to dhordo. I was so far from the highway that, walking out was not an option. I had a 360 degree view of the entire desert and I could see no man nor vehicle for miles in any direction.
I sighed and thought about what to do. At first, panic started rising inside me as i mentally went through the possible outcomes of being stranded here. Some were drastic and others not so much. I shook my head again and asked myself to shut up and got down to work.
When i had left the dhordo camp, I was told that there was a short-cut back road which would take me straight to gaduli and further onto koteshwar/lakhpat fort. My other option was to take the highway back to nakhatrana and then onwards to koteshwar. But, with this shortcut route, I’d save over 50 kms and I had chosen this option without hesitation.
But, I never considered the fact that, the back roads of a desert area might be filled with thorns. Not more than 6 or 7 kms from dhordo, my rear tire had a flat.
I looked at the flat tire at hand again and worked my way through…first i removed the panniers, then the skewer and then took out the tire, got the tube out and discovered there were 3 flats on the same tube!! Slowly, i fixed them one by one…By the time I had fixed everything and was back on the saddle, it was 10:50 AM.
As i started turning my crank over, I cursed myself for having deviated from my planned route and for not having considered the possibility about thorns on these roads.
By 1 PM, I had covered less than 20 kms (from the start point, dhordo) and I had gotten close to 9 flats on both the front and the back tires (even after having changed to new spare tubes on both front and back tires!!!!!). Every single time I had patiently gotten off the bike and had followed through the motions and had fixed the punctures repeatedly.
So, when i stopped for the umpteenth time because of another flat at 1 PM, I gave out a loud exasperated roar and kicked the cycle hard (sorry about that fellow bikers and cycuu). There was of course no one to see me. I decided that I wouldn’t ride anymore on the backroad and started walking my cycle. After what must have seemed like half an hour, I could see the highway and my heart leapt with joy. As I reached the highway, I saw a motor cycle approaching and I sighed with relief, Atleast, I’d get somewhere today!!!!
The gentleman told me that Hajipir was just 10 kms away on the highway and he told me I’d find some kind of a mechanic there. Excited, i fixed the puncture on my rear wheel in quick time and then sat on the saddle and stormed off towards the village determined to reach it before another flat!
As i reached Hajipir, I made a bee-line for the lone hotel/stall there. I was hungrier than ever. To my utter bad luck, the shop had closed for the day and I had to contend with a few biscuits.
Then, I found a small mechanic shop and the mechanic was about to shut shop for the day and leave. However, I begged him to help me fix all the flats on my cycle. He hesitated for a bit and then opened his shop again.
I had 2 tubes on my bike and another 2 tubes as spare and I had used them all up to get to hajipir. In half hour, he fixed close to 16 punctures on all 4 tubes!!!! To avoid further pinch flats, I asked him to pump the tires upto 70 PSI.
After 45 mins, after having sorted out the entire puncture problem, I was ready to ride towards lakhpat fort (my destination for the day). When I asked the mechanic how much I should pay him for his work, I was expecting he’d say at least Rs 200. To my utter surprise, he said Rs 20. My mouth fell open and I asked him why so less?? He said since i was in trouble when i came to him, he would not charge me extra. I had no words to this and I forced him to take atleast Rs 100 for his work. But he simply wouldn’t. After a lot of friendly haggling, we settled down to Rs 60 and I paid him that much.
I got on my saddle and started riding towards Lakhpat. As I rode, I thought about what happened. In most places you’d haggle on prices to pay LESS for the services obtained and yet, I had just haggled with an honest, kind hearted man to pay MORE!!!!
Such is the contrast of life in our crazy world!!