Whenever I see it, I get chills. I will never forget this day, her smile, those flowers, or how bad my ass hurt.
I took this photo in a chrysanthemum field somewhere in between Pune and Aurangabad in India. At the time, I was still heavily involved in fashion design and had discovered I was living in the one state in the world where a fabric known as Himroo is woven (I even wrote a story about that Hunt for Himroo, here).
I knew it was a five hour journey from Pune, and I also knew that the Ellora and Ajanta caves just so happened to be in the same city. I’ll share photos from these caves in a future blog, but if you have ever watched an episode of Ancient Aliens or just so happen to be a scholar of ancient rock carved cave temples, these gems will be familiar to your mind. Needless to say, after seeing the photos of Ellora, I was hooked! I had to go!
A local Punekar who was being extremely helpful, and still remains a friend, chimed in and offered to drive. The catch? It would be on his motorcycle. The bigger catch? We aren’t talking the Harley Davidson Ultra Classic luxury motorbike coach that I was used to. We were talking a Hero Honda rinky dinker with a skinny little two person seat. Still, being the ever adventurous twenty-something dying to get my hands on that damn fabric, I packed my backpack, tossed in my laptop (it was midterms, afterall), and we hopped on that motorcycle at 6 am and took off for Aurangabad.
On the way up, I snapped photos of everything. I still remember the group of people tie-dying shirts with a brilliant indigo on the side of the road that I missed, but, I will one day share with you the sculptor constructing new roadside temple elephants with you (you may remember this story from the previous life of Girl Vs. City).
I watched in awe from the backseat of this motorbike as we went through ghats and villages, tiny roads and big roads, and passed fields and fields of flowers being harvested for the festival season. Chrysanthemums are very popular in Indian culture and used for Pooja ceremonies, offerings, and much more.
On the way back, I tried to snap photos of everything but by that point, it was hard to focus on anything except the numbing pain in my toosh. If you have ever been on the back of a motorcycle for an insane amount of time, you will know what I’m talking about. Now, take that pain and multiply it by bicycle banana seat and we may be in the same ball park.
At one point, I had to stand up. I begged my friend to pull over and as I climbed off and squealed in glee, I saw women picking flowers down below. I instantly started snapping. My friend suggested we walk down and join them for better photos. In America, we don’t exactly just go traipsing on to other people’s property, so at first, I strongly declined. As I watched him slide down the embankment to the field, however, I thought, ‘What the hell. YOLO!’ (YOLO wasn’t actually a thing yet…if it’s ever really been a thing.)
They stopped picking and watched us approaching. As we got closer, smiles grew on their faces and they were eager for photos. We stayed with them for about fifteen minutes, snapping away, picking flowers, looking out for cobras, and getting our stretch on.
We waved goodbye, climbed back up the embankment, and set off for the next three hours of a lesson in how to take a road trip.
I’ll never forget that trip, and I will never forget that moment. There are amazing stories from this butt blasting journey that I will be sharing with you – ancient forts, temples, amazing people, adorable villages, artists, etc…
Had we been in a car, I never would have had half of the experiences that we had. On this trip, I widened my world by opening it fully to the outside, embracing every second of raw nature in a raw country. I had my day brightened by beautiful flowers and I hope that I brightened their day with my excited giddiness and admiration of their beauty.
Do you have any motorcycle road trip stories to share with me? Leave yours in the comments, I’d love to hear all about your adventure!