- 16 Jul 2019
"The first time I felt completely free was when I moved to Vizag for my graduation. I was away from home and that kind of independence is a crazy feeling. Vizag is a such a beautiful city. I would ride my bike to college on the beach road for about 10 km everyday, and believe me, that's how I fell in love with biking. As a child, I would sneak out of my house and take the bike for a ride. Back then, it was all for fun. But when I was doing it in my late teens or early 20s, it was a different feeling. For the first few years, I only rode in the city and never went out too much. I can't believe when I say this, but the total kilometers on my bike was just 2000. My first long trip was from Vizag to Kharagpur. One of my friends at IIT fell sick and I wanted to be there. I found no flights, no trains and the only option was to ride all the way. It sounds like a decision made in haste, but what a trip it was! That was the beginning of my road trips.
I stopped telling my parents about going on these rides solo or how long the trips would be. I didn't want them to be worried so I would tell them the truth only after I returned. After my graduation, I planned a long road trip with around 20 friends. A few days before we were supposed to start, everybody backed off. All of them! I thought for a while and realised this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. So I decided to take the trip alone - from Kanyakumari to Kargil. Throughout the 52-day trip, I stayed in zostels, met some incredible people of different age groups and backgrounds and made so many memories. Although I had completed a couple of rides ranging between 1500-2000km before my K2K journey, nothing could've actually prepared me for what was in store. To begin with, I chose the worst month for a road trip. It was August and was raining cats and dogs across the country. However I did not have the choice to delay because the temperatures in the north would start turning extreme. When I started my trip, I didn't even know the ABCs of such a long journey. My luggage fell off of my bike even before I got to my first destination. Unforeseen events like the demise of National political leaders and the Kerala Floods, lead to shutdowns, which forced me to take detours. I tried to enter the state to help in any manner possible but that didn't seem feasible either.
I have had the privilege of meeting some really cool people all the way who taught me a lot of things and put a lot of my thoughts into perspective about religion, family, relationships and life at large. From a Russian Policeman who left his job and started touring on his bike 7 years ago, to a Biker coming all the way from Italy, every conversation changed me. The experience that impacted me the most was with a mechanic who I met at Pilani, Rajasthan. I had met with an accident and couldn't find spare parts in that small town. So this stranger mechanic, without any hesitation, took parts off a vintage bike to replace them. I was sceptical about it at first. I was afraid he would drill a hole through my pocket by the end. After a 4 hour process of fixing the bike, he didn't charge me a single penny. He gave me a tour of his garage and showed me a collection of vintage bikes. These bikes belonged to his late father who had dreamt of completeing a journey similar to mine. He said that my journey would give his father peace. This moved me. Till date I carry the same parts on my bike, hoping to show his father a little more of the country.
It is moments and experiences like these that truly make you a better person. When I ride my bike, I feel peaceful. I've made some big decisions while riding my bike. It is my true love."
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