Riding through the Basque region of France

Ondres. The name almost sounds Mexican to me- it has a rhythm like ‘hombre’. But it is the most typical French village in the Basque that you can imagine- this tiny village, now our home for the last couple of days where we are staying with Nelly in her tasteful villa. The beauty of this region is simply breath-taking not only our village Ondres- but everything east of San Sebastian.

Green so green that it hurts the eye. The foliage is just overflowing- every twig or branch you see has more leaves than it should. The roads are narrow and every few hundred meters you meet roundabouts. The cars generally never obey the speed limits- two wheelers zip past so fast that they perhaps remain oblivious to the speed expectations anyway. Yet, there is respect for the passers-by. And there are smiles and pleasantries exchanged when you stop at traffic lights. And despite long queues of vehicles at traffic junctions, drivers are accommodating and mild mannered. Welcome to France, I smiled to myself as our motorcycle weaved through the long queue of vehicles. We were now attired right for the season- Anu in her poncho and me in my waterproof riding pants with a rain jacket on top- this morning we were caught unawares by the rain but not so any longer.

At the fuel station we stopped for air- and there we met David. The gentleman walked up to us and started a conversation in relatively coherent English. David is a proud Frenchman- and an even more proud member of the Basque community. As we posed for pictures, he corrected the angle for his French beret cap- just to make sure his identity was reflected in the right light. And standing at the fuel station, we discussed about politics, food, sports and everything else in between. And then he said if you have a few minutes I’d like to show you something- it is the typical sport of the Basque region. He had us- and he knew it. A few minutes later we were at an indoor stadium, watching a bunch of children play a special game. And thus it was- a bond was formed, a connection was made. He will visit India in 2018- and I hope we can also share with him something interesting and enriching. I guess this trip is all about chance encounters- and every detour, every smile and every ‘Bonjour’ may bring about new experiences.

Today was a good day- we had a second such encounter- this time it was 71 year old Rudolf. The man knew India well, had travelled through the subcontinent and was currently touring France on his bicycle- already 2000 kilometres from his home in the Netherlands. Eloquent and expressive, he was earlier into events and marketing- and knew several of India’s leading families including Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosale, DIlip Kumar, Nargis, Sunil Gavaskar. Kapil Dev, etc.- and they knew him personally. What a free spirit- what persistence- to travel thousands of kilometres alone on a bicycle. His tan was deep, his eyes sparkled as he laughed and he spoke from the heart like a child would. As he kissed us goodbye, his last words were Ï am going to race real fast down this hill now” … and off he went like a flash.

The blue of the sea, the grey of the clouds, the green of the plants, the brown earth and the dark tarmac- these were the colours that surrounded us today as we travelled through spectacular panoramas and beautiful architecture of the Basque countryside. Sococa, Sainte Barbe, Guethary, Bidart, Biarritz, Anglet, Bayonne, Tarnos and Ondres… these will not be strange French names anymore. For us, each have a smell, a smile, a coffee shop or a landscape that we associate with.

More and more, each passing day is making me realize that places on the map are for real- where people live, love and share lives. And in some strange way, these dots on the map play a role in our lives too- however distant or theoretical they may seem when you watch them on the GPS. For Anu and me, it is even more so- every encounter we have been having over the past weeks have been a case of ‘maps coming live’. With each passing day, I am beginning to look at every delay, every detour, every miss- as new opportunities ready to reveal its potential to us. At every moment, there awaits new experiences- we just have to be open to greet it and await for it to unveil itself. Amen!

159 thoughts on “Riding through the Basque region of France”

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    1. Thank you for the feedback and I really agree with what you mentioned about making it livlier. I know I need to do that. Not an excuse… but frankly I have been a bit short on time (riding and writing in parallel) therefore I could not give it the attention.
      However for the future narratives I will certainly bear your feedback in mind and (with more time to prepare them) I hope it will improve the presentability somewhat.
      Truly appreciate your suggestions… warm regards- Manas

    1. Thank you for the kind words. We used wordpress and a few friends helped in putting up the site. I am glad you like our efforts… hope to stay connected with you. Regards Manas

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  35. First off I want to say fantastic blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if
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    1. Hi Cyrus,
      Thank you for your appreciation and I am glad you like the blog.
      As you know, my wife and me are on our our (nearly 4 month long) motorbike ride- and I am writing on the go. I must say I am lucky- riding gives me a lot of time to reflect and often thoughts crystallize themselves. I usually write at the end of the day (or night)- after the ride, I sit back in the night and reflect… fresh memories are grainy easier to write about. For me, its about getting the flow started right- I look for a single idea / visual / reflection that moves me (sometimes I make a few drafts till I get to this single point of start- and just like you I too spend some time in getting that start) and thereafter the knots unfold in my head… and as they do so I jot them down. I am not sure if this helps answer your question- but thanks to your question I have a better idea about how I approach the narratives I share 🙂
      Happy writing my friend- it would be a pleasure to read some of your thoughts too! Regards

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    1. Thank you so much for the kind words. I am really happy you like it. You know, a long motorbike ride as ours creates a lot of impressions- and I am lucky that I can express some of it in the writings. Thank you for inspiring me to continue! Regards Manas

    1. Dear Jim, Thank you for writing-in. I am really happy you like the blog… please feel free to share it with your group. I’d request you to also offer the url –> http://dostionwheels.com/blog/ which may help your friends visit and review some similar content I am writing.
      What better reward for a writer than to know he is being read 🙂
      Thank you again… Manas

  42. Hello there! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from an established blog.

    Is it difficult to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure
    things out pretty quick. I’m thinking about setting
    up my own but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any tips or suggestions?

    With thanks

    1. Dear Alexandra, I cannot claim to have a great deal of experience- but I used wordpress and it was not too difficult. Good luck for your aspiration and I do hope you write your thoughts and share with the wider audience. Sincerely, Manas

    1. Hey there!! It is really a compliment for a writer to know that someone reads his content. So I must really thank you for writing-in and inspiring me to ride (and write, simultaneously). For me and my wife it has been an incredible journey so far- and we are experiencing so much that it forces me to get on the notepad and write down some of the impressions- even though it may have been a long, hard day. Thank you for your kind words… I am inspired to continue 🙂
      Warm regards, Manas

  43. Newly made friends you didn’t know yet when you where at the same places and barely missed them. It shows, that happens what must happen: Not when we expect it, but when time has come. May the angels accompany you on your trip!

    1. Thank you dear Thomas!! You are kind- in your heart and with your words 🙂 Your wishes really matter much. Warm regards… Manas

  44. I still want to share this memory London 1979. Ma lata mangheskar mother asked me to marry the daughter of meenah khadir so i almost became a member of their family. I kindly declined. Not many people could say no to the beautiful late Ma Mangheskar!!

    1. Well Rudolf… you are a really charming man- I am not surprised at all 🙂
      Its really nice to be connected with you my friend…! If you plan a visit to India sometime, do not forget to let us know please.
      Regards Manas

  45. I am enjoying and really like the way u written.Nature and culture of different region is in front of us.WIsh I best luck

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