Enough aboout GATI, for the time being, there will be a different thread focussed on them started soon, and you will soon see that what you have read here about them are not the only stunts they have tried to pull off.
I want to give some background on the people I was dealing with in Manali. Initially, of course, I did not know anybody there, and in spite of some efforts, there did not seem to any motoroid with decent contacts. Luckily, when I went there in June, Amit got me in touch with somebody, and through him, got in touch with Ravi Thakur from Himalayan Caravan Adventure, an agency that organises tours, treks, bookings, et al.
This was important for me as I needed a RELIABLE local mechanic who would swap the off road tyres for street ones at Manali. Ravi took me to Anu motors, one of the largest Enfield rental outfits in the whole area, who has a fleet of at least 40 bullet 500s, a well equipped workshop and the mechanics to maintain that fleet after the bikes are misused by tourists.
With both Himalayan Caravan and Anu Garage, there are plenty of situations where people (their clients) need to keep luggage at their premises when they go on tours - and you can bet that nothing gets touched, much less opened. In fact when the accident damaged bike came in , there was still stuff in the now lidless sidebox, and the bike was parked outside, but the mechs there told me not to bother about getting the stuff in as "nothing gets stolen here", and thats the fact there. The bike was parked outside for a half a day before I could return from the hospital and everything was right there, complete with undisturbed Rohtang sand on top.
I had got quite friendly with the mechs there too, and most competent mechs develop a rapport with somebody who is not frightened to get his hands dirty while his bike is being worked on. I was able to help them some as well as they were unfamiliar with the ZMA, though they could probably assemble a bullet drunk and blindfolded with hands tied behind them, they are that good. Plus falling off the mountain and coming out scratchless makes you a bit of a celebrity with them
Well, as you might be knowing I spent 3 days in Manali the first time round waiting for the roads to clear (they cleared a week after I cut my losses and left) and during this time I was in absolutely no mood for sightseeing/shopping - I spent my time with Ravi in his office and we built a good personal rapport with each other. He very kindly actually offered to keep the off road tyres and the bag containing the thermals in his office, saving me the expense of shipping them to and fro again from Mumbai to manali. After the accident, he again very kindly volunteered to ship the bike and the luggage back via DTDC as he knew the people there.
Unfortunately, thats where things began to unravel, as he got some bookings and had to leave for a one week hike out of mobile coverage, so could not follow up personally, he had to rely on Mr Sunil Kumar, his assistant, who did not have his contacts. It turned out that DTDC would charge a ridiculous 19000 odd to transport the bike, more than a Kullu Mumbai air ticket. It was also difficult to get a transporter as the CWG was on - and nobody he could get in touch with wanted to go anywhere near Delhi. That meant that we would have to use GATI again - and to use GATI a vehicle would have to be hired to get the stuff to Mandi first.
Mr Sunil actually managed all that and spent an entire day getting the bike to the GATI office and completing the formalities. To top it all up, he paid the shortfall out of his own pocket prior to my reimbursing him, as the extra transport charges to mandi were not in the equation when I left him enough money for what I thought it would cost to ship my stuff.
So you can se here that these people were defnitely not strangers, and moreover, friends I could trust. Even the manager of the GATI franchise at Mandi - he actually offered me lunch with him while I was waiting for the bike on the inward journey, which I was a bit uncomfortable about accepting. This gentleman was also honest enough to tell me that it would take a little more than the usual time to ship to Mumbai as he wanted to ensure that there was enough luggage to prevent the bike from toppling in the transport to Ambala. This is another guy I would trust, unfortunately, most of GATI's other employees restore the average.