Monday, February 28, 2011

The Process of Planning

It's probably no suprise that a trip of the magnitude of our little journey to India requires a fair amount of planning. Planning is Important. Planning is the difference between returning home flushed with success, a trip worth taking taken well, and spending three weeks in jail because you don't have a visa.

The problem here is that neither Rob the Racist nor I are the planning type. You know the type - hyper-organised, everything managed down to the nearest second etc etc. Boring and predictable. Micro-management. More accurately, neither Rob nor I like planning and we're rubbish at it. We're more likely to spend the trip in Tihar prison in Delhi (one of the largest, most overcrowded prisons in the world but one that does have a website) glaring at one another and loudly and exasperatedly proclaiming "You said you were going to sort out the visa!".

That is, until we hit upon a solution to our fatalistic attack of the casual. We realised, drumroll please, that you cannot plan if you are hungry or thirsty. Ergo, planning should be done over food and drink or, more accurately, over beer and pizza. Problem solved. Planning sessions have now become twice weekly occurrences planned, ironically, well in advance. We are now, or should be, the best planned expedition on the planet. Space shuttles have been launched with less time spent "planning".

The real problem with this approach is not our magpie-like ability to be distracted by pretty much anything, but instead the fact that we do really try to plan things. We spend the first hour of the evening (approximately three beers worth) discussing things like gear, routes and bike rental. We then spend the next three hours talking about interesting things like climbing and girls. Three hours equates to about five or six beers, which means that we tend to forget whatever we spent planning.

The upside of this is that we have to have another planning session to discuss what we have forgotten. As you can imagine, we're starting to relish this planning malarkey.

The outcome of three "planning" sessions this weekend is that we now have roles. Rob is to be head motorcyclist-ist and he-who-knows-how-to-repair-motorcycles. Seeing as he is actually a motorcyclist-ist, that should be fine, except there's a slightly worrying look of uncertainty, like a poodle being shown a card trick, every time I mention that he's probably going to have to do things like repair a bike or fix a flat tire. My role, and one that I am suitably qualified for, is, basically, to look impressed at all the motorcyclism, pretend to know what they're talking about and try not to die*. And, if I manage to do all of those, I will be rewarded with the privilege of editing the written output of the trip and being blamed for no-one being willing to publish it.

I'll do my best not to mess that up then, shall I?

* I've spent 31 years trying not to die, so I guess I'm qualified.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Captain

Rob the Racist has been derelict in his duties, so he's no longer allowed to wear the mesh vest that says 'Captain'*. This is because I went and booked our first nights' accommodation at the super helpful and mellow Smyle Inn.

An airconditioned room for two people and an airport transfer for R200? Bargain.

* Despite this being a rather fetching look for him.

Progress is now as follows:
(1) Book accommodation for our first night or two in Delhi
(2) Get our visas
(3) Work out where to rent reliable motorcycles from in the Shimla area
(4) Buy the necessary gear.
(5) Oh, and actually work out what the necessary gear is.
(6) I should probably learn to ride a motorcycle.

Oh, and..

..Rob doesn't know about the planned route.

Won't it be a nice surprise for him?

Inhospitable terrain

So, the Great Indian Motorcycle Roadtrip is taking shape.

The route, roughly, looks like this so far:

View Larger Map

Not that that makes any sense to, well, most people. Except Sumit, who's an Indian from India and has already given us seriously important assistance. Hats off to Sumit.

Sumit also said we should go to Lahaul-Spiti. Here are some photos, purloined off the web:

I'd argue that it looks like a destination, non?

So, all that we need to do now is:
(1) Book accommodation for our first night or two in Delhi (any recommendations?)
(2) Get our visas
(3) Work out where to rent reliable motorcycles from in the Shimla area
(4) Buy the necessary gear.
(5) Oh, and actually work out what the necessary gear is.
(6) I should probably learn to ride a motorcycle.

No worries then, should have it done by lunchtime.

Vague Stirrings of Fear and Loathing

(A cross post from cipherland)

"As your attorney, I advise you to buy a motorcycle. How else can we cover a thing like this righteously?"
- Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

It seemed like a great idea at the time. That time was, however, blurred by alcohol, fatigue and a need to impress. But I wasn't going to admit that as time passed and more commitment than a vague "That sounds cool, I'm in" was needed. Commitment, but no admission, was made despite the gnaw of worries. What the hell was I doing? This is madness. This can't possibly end well. I lack the essential confidence and courage to pull off what is, essentially, a test of courage and confidence. Am I man enough for this?

I'm going to have to be because, emboldened by some kind of collective mania, I booked the plane tickets. This Frankensteinian monster is lumbering on inexorably and dragging me along with it. It's really going to happen. Shit.

Later, Rob the Racist, aka my attorney*, explained a vague itinerary. I was again blurred by alcohol and fatigue, but had no desire to impress on this occasion. Luckily, the itinerary was abstruse and indefinite enough to not require significant input that I would have been unable to provide. As commitment had been made, there was no need to do anything other than nod, shrug and hand over leadership to Rob. He is the team captain, the experienced leader. I am the team halfwit, the jester. The idiot who has never ridden a motorcycle, going on a motorcycle trip up the highest motorable highway in the world, a wild and inhospitable streak of gravel zig-zagging through the mountains of country not known for hospitable roads, drivers or climate. Basically, if I don't off myself, the trucks, intestinal parasites or roads will probably get me. Or the altitude. Or the Indian army.

This is not my comfort zone. This is not easy or practical or well-planned. Or even planned for that matter. This is my unreality, an environment that I will not be able to control or mitigate.

This is not a holiday. This is an adventure.

Fuck it, let's do it.

* He is actually a real attorney. This may come in use.