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Chasing Freddie Mercury

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Noshir, Sep 5, 2018.

  1. Noshir

    Noshir Been here awhile

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    adventure (v.)

    c. 1300, aventuren, "to risk the loss of," from Old French aventurer (12c.) "wander, travel; seek adventure; happen by chance," from aventure (n.); see adventure (n.). Meaning "take a chance" is early 14c. Related: Adventured; adventuring.

    A number of years ago, Dad was called to tune a school piano at the hill station town of Panchgani. Situated in the state of Maharashtra - India, Panchgani was developed as a retirement place for the British in the region because it remained pleasant throughout the year. Looking for a place that met the brief, the surveyor finally decided on a nameless area in the vicinity of the five villages, and the place was aptly named Panchgani with 'Panch' meaning 'five' and 'gani' credited to a mispronunciation of the word 'gao' meaning village in the local language. John Chesson the surveyor was made Superintendent. Today Chesson is buried in the cemetery of St. Peter's Church in the same town. Another little know fact - this town was also the scene of an unsuccessful assassination attempt on Mahatma Gandhi - one of six attempts by the same man - Godse.

    While tuning the piano at the St. Peter's school, Dad was informed that this piano was played by none other than the legendary Freddie Mercury when he studied in this school as a teenager. And just like that the instrument took on a whole new persona. The beginnings of 'Queen' was 'The Hectics' and dad got to be alone with a rare moment of history! Unfortunately a few years later the piano was destroyed in a building fire.

    Today (5 September) was Freddie's birthday.

    In my time in India, both Dad and I have ridden several times to this town and I have even bicycled the distance a few times. The terrain here - The Western Ghats are the mountainous faulted and eroded edge of the Deccan Plateau that were formed during the break-up of the super-continent of Gondwana some 150 million years ago. In a way this region has probably always been 'action packed' albeit at a slower than glacial pace.

    Fast forward from our adventure together over 3 years ago, Dad and I have decided to go out riding again. This time round, I will be riding the bike he picked for his last adventure - a Honda 160 single street bike and at 73, he will now be riding his Suzuki 250 twin which he has custom setup for his bad back and limited flexibility. Taking in Panchgani, we will be mostly on back roads, riding every twisty I could plan and meander our way down towards another previously colonised part of India - Goa. Over 10 days, we then make our way back through the beautiful coastal areas, before finishing up an other adventure. No doubt this will leave us wanting more, as we are both still on a high from our last one.

    As with the last adventure, will be updating as we ride to share with inmates here.
    #1
  2. Snapper33

    Snapper33 Globetrotter Supporter

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    Excellent! In.
    #2
    Noshir likes this.
  3. Porus

    Porus n00b

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    Wonderfully area to explore just after monsoon...all the best..
    #3
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  4. WesF

    WesF Been here awhile

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    How wonderful you are doing this & resurrecting Freddies legend, l look forward to your posts!
    #4
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  5. GravelRider

    GravelRider AKA max384 Supporter

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    In!!
    #5
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  6. Steve_h

    Steve_h Long timer

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    An excellent and worthy adventure!
    Enjoy the times with your Dad. They are very special.

    Please carry on and keep us posted. :lurk
    #6
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  7. Noshir

    Noshir Been here awhile

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    Perhaps a serendipitous moment, or maybe signs of a world more tolerant, inclusive and wider thinking. Amongst many things the British took from their colonies, they also left behind a lot of others. One such thing was the section 377 under the penal code!!!

    Not sure if had anything to do with the day in the calendar of a certain musical legend's birthday, but the section 377 was 'de-criminalised' on 6 September 2018. Also ironic then, the Freddie connection between the countries. Perhaps the Raj did take more than precious gems :-). Then again he was quite the adventurer himself.
    #7
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  8. Noshir

    Noshir Been here awhile

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    While a Yellow jacket and Adidas trainers may suffice for a rock concert, a multiday ride through backroads after a massive monsoon need a bit more preparation. A big thankyou to @SteveRed and Adventure Moto for their support again on this ride with Klim riding gear.

    Not riding in the Himalayas this time means warmer temperatures. The region is nearing the end of the monsoon season and the odd colder days are expected. For this ride, will be in the Dakar Pants, Dakar and XC Lite Jerseys, Badlands gloves and the Klim F3 helmet.

    No doubt this quality gear will keep me comfortable and well protected on the roads in India. At the best of times, the roads resemble offroad sections of an enduro event with some potholes bearing an
    uncanny resemblance to the map of the country. A statistic from a leading newspaper in the country put the fatalities caused by potholes at 3,597 compared to 803 from terror attacks in 2017!!!
    #8
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  9. djroszina

    djroszina Long timer Supporter

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    Farrokh Bulsara
    #9
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  10. Noshir

    Noshir Been here awhile

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    Farrokh Bulsara indeed. Nicknamed 'bucky' in school for his teeth, he insisted on being called Freddie.

    Though not particularly religious, I am born into the same Zarathustrian faith as Farrokh was. Numbering less than 100,000 worldwide, a certain eccentricity is a well known trait of the community.

    Their love and appreciation of the finer things in life - especially their bikes and cars is also famed. If in the used market for a vehicle, some adverts proudly state the community in the classifieds as a badge of authenticity...
    #10
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  11. heirhead

    heirhead worlds worst mechanic

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    Hello,
    Freddie was a flamer, (not that there is anything wrong with it), but
    one of the best performers of all time.
    May you and your father have a wonderful journey!

    hh
    wwm
    #11
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  12. Noshir

    Noshir Been here awhile

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    Not just any flamer. He was the 'Champion'. :-).

    Looking forward to riding with dad again.
    #12
  13. arraaom

    arraaom Adventurer

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    hari
    woaaa...amazing post.
    #13
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  14. Richarde1605

    Richarde1605 Long timer

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    Perhaps the love and appreciation of other lives. 100,001 now :-)

    Sent from my SM-G950F using Tapatalk
    #14
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  15. djroszina

    djroszina Long timer Supporter

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    “Now get on your bikes and ride”. Every time I hear that, it sends a jolt of energy and Euphoria through me.
    #15
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  16. Noshir

    Noshir Been here awhile

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    About 300 meters from where dad lives, a great 'sizzler' restaurant opened up a few years ago. Great food, excellent quantity, reasonable prices, decent ambiance - all the hall marks of a good honest restaurant. I have often eaten there on my visits and had a few chats with the gentle giant of the gent who was running the place. On one of my visits I was informed that he passed away. Only researching my writing for this report, I found out whom I had often talked to back then!!!

    Little did I know, the gentle giant was a person by the name of 'Farang Irani'. Another Zarathustrian - and amongst other things - the bass guitarist for Freddie's original band - The Hectics!!!

    This is turning out to be quite the tour, and we haven't even started riding yet.

    I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike....
    #16
  17. Noshir

    Noshir Been here awhile

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    Scaramouch, scaramouch will you do the Fandango...

    It is great when a piece of luggage is also a lyric to that famous rhapsody.

    Thanks again Adventure moto and @SteveRed for the Giant Loop Fandango tank bag. Will certainly keep my camera gear handy resulting in more pictures/video footage.
    #17
  18. Romero

    Romero At Cinépolis or OXXO Supporter

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    I lived in Stone Town for six months.......

    I'm in!!!!
    #18
  19. A-shok

    A-shok n00b

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    Pune, India
    Hi Nosh,

    Super reading. Please update your ride report! Cheers and safe travels!
    #19
  20. Noshir

    Noshir Been here awhile

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    28 September 1980 was the first Queen concert at Madison Square Garden.

    I visit the restaurant run by Farang Irani the bassist for the band Freddie had in school. A photo remembering the gentle giant dorns the cashier desk.

    20180927_182852.jpg

    20180927_182734.jpg

    As chance would have it, we began our ride on... 28 September. A hearty breakfast, bags on bikes, a bit of fumbling around with our intercoms and we were off.

    This time i am using a chinese phone with ip68 rating on airplane mode as a gps. Heading out, i am quite impressed with this AGM unit. Having pre-prepped my gpx files, i have each day mapped out on the backroads of Maharashtra, meandering our way to Goa. Up the lush green hills south of Pune, after a very heavy monsoon, the roads are not in the best condition.

    Dad seems excited until we hit the first bad patch of road. He very quickly makes it clear his pride and joy - a Suzuki Inazuma 250 - is a road bike and not meant of this. I seem quite happy on the Honda 160, even though i need to keep it above 6500 rpm.

    Turning off the freeway at a place i have been to numerous times before, i was confident i would find the spot. However the last time i was here was over 20 years ago. Time marches on and so does construction and development. Predictably so i miss the turn and even have difficulty finding the spot despite the gps track. This, after all is India.

    Nothing beats local knowledge and just asking around quickly informs me that the turn used to be where the gps indicated, but now it is moved!!! With none of the old landmarks i was in new territory.

    The town - Shivapur - is well known locally of a 'Dargah' that is home to a Sarcophagus and a Stone both telling a tale of a Sufi saint - Qumar Ali Darvesh - born six centuries ago. The Dargah is famous for its levitating stone which needs 11 people to touch it with their index fingers and take the name of the sufi saint before proceeding to lift the 70kg stone.

    As we ride past, not much seems to have changed in this village in the last six centuries unlike the freeway that passes by without even acknowledging the village. All the more reason to stay on the back roads...
    #20
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