An apple a day won’t keep ‘Dr Biker Brother’ away

Apple, the proverbial fruit from the tree of knowledge, consumed against instructions, led Adam and Eve’s banishment from the Garden of Eden.

The fall of an apple on the head of Sir Isaac Newton, while sitting under a tree, led to postulations for the law of gravity: “every particle attracts every other particle in the universe with the force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between their centres”.

Hinduism and Buddhism believe in karma, the spiritual principle of cause and effect, and fate for every decision an individual has made has led them to their present scenario.

Scientific or karmic, an act that I had done in 2007, led me to a great and gentle individual, R. Ramachandran from Temerloh.

I had operated on his brother-in-law’s eye at Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah in 2007. It was coincidentally the same day I got my posting order to Hospital Sultan Ahmad Shah in Temerloh.

During the post-operative review the next morning, my patient casually asked about my new posting. My transfer order was a hot topic among the ward staff.

The patient mentioned that his brother-in-law stayed in Temerloh and provided his contact number.

Later, I reported to the new hospital.

Unfortunately, there was no accommodation available immediately at the hospital quarters, and the few motels were not available for stay at that time.

I contacted Ramachandran and introduced myself. When I told him of my predicament, he was spontaneous: “Come over to my house. There is a spare room you can use.”

Here you have a perfect stranger calling, and this fine gentleman was offering his home without a second thought. That’s Ramachandran for you – always there to help anyone.

I drove over to his home. He was gardening. I later learned that gardening was his passion.

I met his wonderful wife, S. Saraswathy. They were gracious hosts and had warm personalities. I stayed at their home for several days until I got my accommodation sorted out.

Our friendship blossomed, and soon we were brothers from another mother. Our families became close, and we were a regular feature in family gatherings – good and sad times.

Fifteen years have gone by, and the bond further strengthened over time. Our monthly early morning Maran temple visits became a ritual.

I was his go-to person for all medical-related matters. It was my form of payback for the timely help he gave me in my time of need.

Ramachandran and Saraswathy have three children – two daughters and a son.

His elder two are married with children, while the other daughter is a veterinarian, doing her masters in the UK.

Ramachandran’s son, Maheswaran and son-in-law L. Kumaraesan are riders too.

The Covid-19 pandemic curtailed our regular meet-ups. However, last weekend’s ride was for a long-delayed meet and an excuse to see Ramachandran.

Fellow rider Dr Harjeet Singh and I started our journey at 3am. We rode through the old Route 1, Kuala Kubu Bharu, Frasers Hill, Raub, Mempaga, Bentong, Lanchang and Mentakab.

Our ride took us across the Rawang bypass and along Route 1. At Batang Kali, we took the turn off as we headed to Kuala Kubu Bharu and Frasers Hill.

From the turn-off at Batang Kali, it was 40km to the base of Fraser’s Hill, where the road had twists and turns going past the Sungai Selangor dam.

The music of choice was the classical pieces by Mozart.

Ironically, the music was interrupted by my daily alarm set at 3.30am. Instead of waking me up from sleep, it broke me out of my trance of the serene ride.

We reached the base of Frasers Hill. It’s a 9km one-lane road up and a one-lane road down.

The entire road was narrow, unlit, and covered with wet foliage, sandy gravel, and broken twigs – making the ride treacherous and dicey with a deep ravine on our left.

There were broken bamboo branches with sharp points hanging at chest level, which can skewer you if you do not notice them.

We only used the first three gears to the top.

The Baroness and Christine – the names of Dr Harjeet and my motorcycle – were not built for high speed, but their high torques came to the fore in pulling up the steep ascent with tight turns effortlessly.

Reaching the top, the architecture of the buildings reminds you of a quaint English village square.

We rested for a short while. It was tiring tackling the tight stretch up. We took photographs, and it was another 9km down, also in low gears.

Egos aside, I would like to state that Dr Harjeet and I handled the treacherous route up and down Frasers Hill, hitting all the tight turns in good form and line.

I waltzed with Christine up and down Frasers Hill, accompanied by Mozart’s concerto.

Finally, we reached the Bentong-Raub trunk road, where we could pick up speed.

The opposite lane saw heavy traffic as motorists headed to the east coast for the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration.

We travelled on the recently opened Mempaga Central Spine Road, accompanied by dense greenery on both sides of the road.

Our planned meet up was at 7am, and we reached with five minutes to spare.

I had extended the breakfast invite to two friends from Kuantan, who were Ramachandran’s mutual friends – D. Mala and P. Chelvi. They too arrived on time, by car.

The meet-up was fun and jovial that a stranger got taken up by the conversation and laughter and joined in for a short while.

Dr Harjeet easily assimilated into the group. The food was delicious. So was the piping hot bru coffee served in the customary brass cup and a small bowl.

It was then time for the customary group photo as we said our goodbyes.

The returned trip was via the East Coast highway, but as Dr Harjeet had planned to go to Ipoh, we were to part ways at Genting Sempah.

I proposed so, but my trusty Christine disposed of the idea, and I followed Dr Harjeet up to Tanjung Malim via the old road, where we finally parted ways in the opposite direction.

Dr Harjeet (left) and Dr Narendran leaving the restaurant in Mentakab.

In the process, I added another 120 km to my ride. It’s the least I could do to keep my friend company.

We both reached our destinations safely, and so did our friends from Kuantan.

It was a fun, fulfilling morning filled with an epic road trip of over 450km, rekindling the flames of friendship that had mellowed to an ember over the past two years due to the pandemic.

The adage that states an apple a day keeps the doctor away may be true, but it will never keep a biker brother away.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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