CYCLE TOUR - DISCOMBOBULATED


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November 17th 2009
Published: November 17th 2009
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The Start of the Second LegThe Start of the Second LegThe Start of the Second Leg

Outside the Britomart Tansport Centre in Downtown Auckland. Northland was home terrtory in a way, now I was about o set off to places less wll known.
By the time the train pulled out of Auckland's Britomart Transport Centre I was feeling slightly troubled. Not in any kind of serious way, just a bit flat.
I'd had a wonderful week at home with Judy - a week in which we'd caught up with family and a few friends and had time to ourselves, an opportunity for me to tell her about my travels and to hear what was happening with her. And to plan for the next few weeks and months. Now, suddenly, I was on a train to an uncertain future and all that I cared about was behind me.

MOMENTS OF DOUBT


I asked myself, why was I making this journey? What was it going to achieve and what good was it going to do me or anyone else? Deep down I knew the answers. I was overdue for a break from my desk job. I wanted to live for a little without deadlines and daily pressures. I wanted time to go at my own pace and to reflect. Maybe I'd raise a few dollars for charity - that was a positive (relax Dear Readers, this is not a plea) and I'd come back fitter and
Right On TimeRight On TimeRight On Time

On the basis of my totally unscientific survey, I couldn't fault the train service. It departed and arrived exactly on time.
healthier and rejuvenated. But it still felt selfish.

RY COODER - MUSICAL INSPIRATION


It was made worse by the fact that the previous night we'd gone to see Ry Cooder and friends at Auckland's Civic Theatre. His slide guitar has brought pleasure to millions over the last four or five decades, but he's also used his music to try to effect change by highlighting the plight of the less fortunate - the migrants, the lost and the lonely. It was a wonderful performance but it made me reflect on how one man can do so much with one life.
And on top of this was the soporific clackety clack of the train, and the passing view. I watched construction work on the railway lines and peered into the backyards of people's homes.

A WELCOME CONVERSATION


All this was jumbled in my mind, so it was almost a relief when the ticket inspector plonked himself down opposite me and asked where I was getting off. Pukekohe, I told him and explained a little bit about the trip. We fell into conversation he explained how he'd been born in India, had spent several years working in Singapore but decided
Arvind, the Ticket InspectorArvind, the Ticket InspectorArvind, the Ticket Inspector

Within minutes of meeting him, we were engaged in a conversation about values - money, happiness, life and death and the most important thing to him, the education of his children.
he wanted somewhere better for his children. He had a brother in the United States, but he wasn't attracted by the prospect of money. Education for his children, he said, was the most important thing. And if that could come with a pleasant lifestyle, even better. He'd heard positive reports about New Zealand's education system, so he made his decision to come here. He'd worked for the rail company for four years now and he and his family had settled into New Zealand. His children were doing well.

WAS THAT A HINT OF REGRET?


We talked about India and it's rapidly growing middle class and for a moment I sensed what I thought was a kind of wistfulness, that perhaps he figured he'd left to soon and that if he'd stayed he might have been part of India's economic miracle. But then he repeated, money's not important.
"We're born into this world with nothing and we leave it with nothing."

BACK ON THE ROAD AGAIN


I nodded in agreement and the conversation drew to a close as the train pulled into Pukekohe Station. We waved goodbye and I climbed on the Beast of Burden. Suddenly I felt better. Arvind
Hard to Make MoneyHard to Make MoneyHard to Make Money

The train was on time, but where were the passengers? I was travelling off peak (mid morning) but for most of the 70 minute journey I shared the carriage with no more than 1 o 2 other people.
the ticket inspector had made me feel better. It was time to live for the moment, to enjoy the physical exertion of riding the bike, to feel the wind and to appreciate the people I encountered along the way.
The road undulated gently to Tuakau and Port Waikato and it wasn't long before I found top gear - gear 27 out of 27. The Beast hummed and suddenly it wasn't a beast any longer - it was Lisa the Lithe. She was a she and almost feline, powerful, agile and perhaps a sleek black. Never mind that the beast is a nondescript cream enamel. Suddenly she was black and sweeping me down the road. Suddenly, all was well with the world.



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18th November 2009

Safe travels
As we drove out of mangawhai - with The Rolling Stones " Beast of Burden " blearing from the utes stereo - we crossed paths - and then you were gone. Back to the city - flat whites and traffic lights. It was good to see you down Ponsonby Rd. and good to hear of your travel tales. " Me he manu motu i te mahanga" - Like a bird escaped from a snare. Travel safe MB. Good times!

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