Road Trip to Alampoondi

“I don’t think we’ll need much money” I stated as we packed for our trip to Alampoondi village on 9 December. “You’d better bring some, in case the motorcycle breaks down like before, remember?” Yes, I did remember the flat tire we got last year riding back from the Aravind Eye Hospital on Cuddalore Road on a rented motorcycle. I put about Rs. 2,000 in my purse, then stick the rest of the wad of Rs. 100 notes (another Rs. 4,000 or so) in a ziplock bag and throw that in my bag as well.

Rather than take the bus (Rs. 23 – $0.52), Mark and I decided to follow up our successful motorcycle ride to Mahabalipuram with another ride to Alampoondi. We didn’t have a map, but I knew that the village was just past Gingee, on the road to Tiruvannamalai, so we used the local method of getting from point A to B – stop at every unmarked fork and ask.

The South Indian countryside is beautiful. This area is paddy country, so we passed kilometers of rice fields in various stages of growth, as well as sugar cane fields and fields of flowers.

Just after we crossed the police checkpoint at Tindivanam, Mark says: “We’re in serious trouble.” Oh-oh, I think – we’ve been flagged down by the police for some reason… and we don’t have the papers for the bike… Mark pulls over and is holding the clutch lever in his hand – it has sheared off the handle. The cops motion us to a motorcycle repair “shop” just across the street. The guys there indicate that they don’t have the part, and gesture towards the town. Great! How to get there?

“Let me see if I can get this to work” Mark says, as he pushes the bike forward and somehow gets it in gear, with no clutch. We ride towards town and just before the main overpass through town, we turn off onto a side road and spot another repair shop. There, the mechanic takes one look, tells us to have a seat, hops on his own motorcycle to get the part, and has the new clutch oiled and installed in fifteen minutes and for Rs. 100 ($2.25).

Motorcycle Repairman Receipt for Motorcycle Parts

Wow! Rs. 79 ($1.78) for a clutch lever and cable, and Rs. 21 ($0.47) for labor.  Awed, grateful and much relieved, we continue onto Gingee to take a look at the fort before heading to Alampoondi.


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