Honking sound pierces through my ears. Alen spins the wheels in the front and successfully breaks through the organised chaos, or Indian traffic as you like it. I find it hard to follow ‘cause my path’s been blocked by tuk-tuks, motorbikes, ladies with suitcases on their heads, cows, coaches, dogs and all the other unmentioned traffic participants. Even though we’re out of the centre the number of people’s not decreased. Groups of smiling children in colourful school uniforms wave at us to say hi. Grandpa at one side of the road sells coconut, while at the other dusty side of the same path I see people cleaning just slaughtered pig. It will surely keep company to that chicken on sale already. We’re having pleasant +35°C outside, which is super convenient for the meat not to go off. I see flower stands all around and women buying jasmine corollas to decorate their heads. I bought one myself to enjoy the odour. All the things mentioned occupied my mind and I completely forgot on basic human needs. Off course, my little personal red light alarmed me in the last second. I believed that it’s best to share that info update with Alen. He just asked sarcastically: “And where would you like to do that?” And he was right. There are no restaurants, and way too many people ariund. Plus, it seems as if every bush is already taken. One hour later and we’re still riding. I try very hard to think of everything else but the toilet thingy. I focus on breathing and doing my mantra: “so, ham”. But there’s no use of that, ‘cause the thingy thing usually always wins. I remembered Alen telling me that story about Aris, a guy he met on his way to France. According to his philosophy, you don’t joke with “holy needs”. And he followed that full-heartedly, as he’s done his business in the centre of the city. I wasn’t that far from his ways, to be honest. We’re approaching the ramp with the sign “Anamalai tiger reservation” instructing people to enter with motor vehicles only. Walking out is strictly forbidden, and walking through the reservation is completely non-negotiable. As we pass by the guard he decides to let us in, even though we don’t meet the standards. In any case, passing through for two- wheeled vehicles is allowed. And since we have two wheels he didn’t care much that we use our own legs to ride them. Now we’re taking the old, bumpy, narrow, asphalt road. There are no people, and you’ll see one motor vehicle in every 10 minutes. I shouted to Alen: “I’m so sorry, but I have to!” I’ve put my bike down and ran straight into a ditch. 20 metres ahead of me I can see a clear sign saying: slow down, panther crossing zone. There is a high fence protecting the nearby village behind me, and up the road I see Alen doing his sketches and murmuring about my toilet place. Right after my ditch adventure we’ve met our first buffalo herd.
We’re rolling through the valley among weary trees that seem to be crying for rain way too long. I gaze into the distance, beyond the fog upon yellowish trees and green hills. That’s our direction. As we’re still in the valley we stop by the inn to grab some breakfast. Each of us gets 2 meat balls and “chai” (aka black tea with milk). If only my nanas could see me now. They would just nod with disappointment: “But wait, that’s all you’ll take? How about adding some fried meat? Look at you son, you’ll end up all skinny.” Yeah, but now they can’t do a single thing about it! Nevertheless, I’m missing the point here. Anyway, I drink the chai and gaze into the hills. I know there’s gonna be a lot of green around as we ride into humid areas. I bet that Mowgli and the “Jungle book” gang will be up there, too. I can’t wait to hit the road. As we share the distance with the city the road grows narrower. Cycling is still quite pleasant ‘cause the forest gives us shady shield. As we ride I keep saying to Petra: “Look at that hill! Check out this tree!” but as if something’s telling me that she’s not that interested. And suddenly she says she’s got to go to the toilet. “Oh damn it, like now? Why couldn’t you do it at the inn?“ Well, one must admit that technically that wasn’t an inn, as together with the toilet it lacked some other elements. However, that waiter has to take dump somewhere, right? Even though we’re far from the centre, still there’s so many people. It’s not like leaving Gospic and all of the sudden not a soul around. Moreover, there’s a high chance of meeting someone in the bushes straight after you’ve unzipped your pants. People wait in lines in front of those bushes. And now she feels like going to the toilet! I told her she’s free to do whatever she wants but not before we go a little further. And just after we’ve started going faster we found ourselves at the ramp. Mr police officer directed vehicles through the area. I haven’t got a slightest clue what’s happened but somehow he waved at us and got us through. We’ve entered Anamalai tiger reserve, a part of Indira Gandhi National Park. Traffic is pretty quiet on that narrow asphalt road. After a while I heard rattling noise. I’ve spotted Petra leaving her bike in the middle of the road and running straight to the bush. Off the topic, that’s her usual way of parking a bike, just like a random drunkard leaves his Volkswagen in the middle of the way. While keeping watch for her, I’ve spotted a sign” PANTHER CROSSING ZONE. GO SLOW.” Just take your time Petra, no pressure.