Diwali was round the corner and it suddenly struck me to make use of one of the ideas I long had in mind. I had always wanted to visit small kids at orphanages in a large number of bikes. Nothing more could interest them, I believed. And so, I called up one of my friends and we started to get things in place. Everything was set. We just had to leave as per the rendezvous plan. Just before I could find more reasons for a good start, I spotted 2 flat tyres. Both, from my bike had given up. I was suspecting a leakage in the back tyre a week ago but was in the process of checking it. The front was much worse. I was still thinking hard of possibilities to make it. I decided to fill air and monitor it and was happy to see both of them holding well for a while. To Pondy and back was around 350 kays. And I decided to make it with 2 flat tyres!
Veda had come over from Bangalore last evening. He had informed me earlier about it and I offered him space to crash for the night. The both of us woke up as planned and swiftly got the gears on. A quick run to the fuel station for an air check and I was happy to be doing good. Next stop, Cozee Point, Bessy Beach. We had a few of members waiting there. We parked the bikes and joined the usual bike conversation that was running between the guys. The 5 of us were joined by another 2 very soon after which we left the place as the clocks showed 6.15. The next stop was VGP Golden Beach where were had to meet up with 4 other guys, with whom the team would wrap up for the day. It didn’t take us long as traffic was low early in the morning and the beginning of the ECR is too crowded on the left for a patient ride.
We spotted the big bikes waiting for us, but some of the riders were missing. We came to know they had left for a chota tea break. In came the two and the complete team had Praveen, Allen, Rajesh, Vedavyas, Kiran, Manoj, Vignesh, Anand, Srini, Sai and Eshwar.
Time wasn’t a big constraint this time. We were well ahead and we decided to spend as much time as we could on the way. I have never attempted the whole of ECR during the monsoons. This was my first ever ride of such a kind. I was taken aback by the lush greenery all around. It was pretty to say the least. I had my eyes glued to the sides and took time to enjoy them rather than speeding up for no reason. I was also leading the pack and had to ensure everyone was riding at comfortable speeds. We had some new folks riding for the first time as well. Some attention on them was also needed.
We were almost near Mahabs when it started drizzling. We stopped by the view point to very quickly wear the rain gear. It was mostly cloudy and looked like it was going to rain heavily. Fortunately nothing like that happened. It remained dry for the rest of the ride. There is a dangerous curve on the ECR very much prone to accidents. We found it to be very interesting and stopped for pictures.
Starting from there, we didn’t want to stop any longer as we had already been chatting and killing enough time. We steadily made it to Pondy and halted by the beach. We got in touch with my other set of friends who had already made it to Pondy. They had arranged for most of the things we planned to do at the orphanage. When I spoke to them, they told us we could go to the orphanage by 11.30, which would be the right time. We still had an hour and a half remaining. Hungry tummies wanted breakfast and we used the time for the same. We came back to the beach again and waited for a while, as my other set of friends came in by car. They were carrying the lunch in that as well.
The orphanage was on the way back to Chennai, about 15 minutes from Pondy. We had to follow the car as none of us knew about the place. We took a left from the main highway and I noticed the signboard to the orphanage. I was eager and was checking out every building, thinking if that would be the orphanage. I was wrong every other time and the car kept going deeper and deeper. We finally hit a building with decent space in front of it, completely occupied with small kids playing all over. They responded quickly to the sound of bikes and lined up outside the gate to watch us park our rides. Each one of them started shouting, “Pulsar… Pulsar…” and the debate amongst them looked never ending.
We were all dumbstruck as we had never been in such a situation, being watched by such lovely kids. We certainly did not expect them to be playing outside. Each of them had a toy gun in their hand bursting crackers. They had absolutely no hesitation in coming over and talking to us. We spent a about half an hour talking to them and taking photos. I can’t explain in words how each of those posed for photos and the immense amount of joy they have in doing so.
We were there close to lunch time and it took some time to arrange everything we had bought. We had to stop them playing and they were asked to assemble inside for lunch. Each of the kids, waited until food was served and the prayers were told. They started to eat with absolute silence and some kids still had the gun in hand! They were very hesitant in asking if they wanted something and waited for us to make eye contact with them. That meant we had to be alert and watch the kids. The kids demonstrated high levels of discipline and I was astonished by the values they had.
Soon after that, it was our turn to be fed. The kids took charge of serving the food for us. I was very happy when they cajoled us to have more with smiling faces. I was thanking God from the bottom of my heart for such a unique experience that I had never expected. The kids did not waste food. Not even a single bit. Some took a lot of time to complete. But they did. This meant, we can’t either. So I made sure, I got the right quantity and finished it without wasting.
We didn’t have much time left. We had bought some clothes, sweets and stationery to be given away. Thanks to Manoj for the stationery. We took to the kids to the terrace where the gifts were given away by everyone. We left the clothes and sweets with the care takers. We had pooled a few thousands apart from this. The food was arranged out of this and some t-shirts were also purchased. We still had a lot of cash left. We were not comfortable in giving it away directly and so decided to leave it with my friend who is a native of Pondy. We decided to spend it during the next occasion, probably during Christmas.
It was time to bid adieu. The kids had surrounded us as we were moving the bikes out. They kept waving till the last point where they could see us. Some kept running behind and stopped after a little while. But their smiles are still in our heart kindling the thought to go back again!