Ride of a Lifetime!
It’s been a while since I returned from my life changing trip of 5 adventurous months across picturesque India. These 5 months have been life changing and nothing but learning experiences that I shall hold close to my heart for the rest of my time on this planet.
Many people I have interacted with since my return, have often asked me as to what I brought back with me from my first solo motorcycle ride across the country. Looking back I feel I have always been this resistant little boy who was never really ready to welcome anything new or welcome any change into his life easily but then they say “Never say Never, right?”
I returned from this trip with hoards of pictures, a bag full of memories, some lessons and several incredible experiences. This trip has moved my soul to such a extent that soon I intend compiling all my thoughts and writing a Travelogue. I would however love to share a few moments I learnt along the way that will surely come in handy for all those solo travellers
- It’s all about that First Step
- Angels are always watching over you…
- Always carry the best equipment and never compromise on quality
- Trust people. Not everyone out there wants to cheat you
- It takes all kind of people to make this world
- It is great to help people in need. Sometimes just do it to make their day pleasant
- Believe in the goodness of people. You just might be pleasantly surprised
- Embrace all the good and love that comes your way with open arms… do not put a tag on it!
- Pay back with Gratitude
- Simply go with the flow
- Believe in serendipity! It happens in real life too
Travelling is something most of us enjoy and look forward to but when it comes to going on solo trips for a few months across the country, we mostly think otherwise and break into a cold sweat merely thinking of all the possibilities of un-pleasantries that we may have to face along the way knowing that the most difficult part actually begins from the word “Go”. But, having taken this solo trip myself, I realized that once you have made up your mind about something and are totally convinced about it, you are smart enough to figure things out along the way. So many months on a motorcycle and over 30,000 kms to cover felt like a no brainer…. Bring it on I said as I fired my engine a night before I left on this epic trip!
The next day, on my way at Sarchu a slightly unfortunate incident occurred and a huge truck rammed into my bike from behind leaving my bike damaged and me significantly injured. I thank my stars the accident wasn’t major and the damage could be repaired at the next village/ city but that experience left me a little shaken and taught me a lesson to be more watchful and always allow the larger vehicles to pass. I met a group of boys who were on their way to Leh from Chandigarh. They were good Samaritans and did everything from making sure I was alright, stopping another truck for me to carry my motorcycle to the next town to fix it, negotiated on the price with the truck driver before finally loading my motorcycle and luggage on the truck. The accident did sadden me and the thought of abandoning the trip half way did cross my mind. But thanks to these boys and my strong belief in the almighty, I somewhere became confident that in case something went wrong, angels would always protect me
This trip has been very enlightening and has taught me the importance of carrying only the best of equipment when it came to travel accessories on long trips like these. During this solo trip of mine, I thank my stars to have carried my Victorinox “Handyman “ pocket knife with me which was like the perfect companion at all times. It comes with tools like the metal file, nail cleaner, wire crimping tool, wire cutters that solved most of my problems in minutes. It also has three different cutting blades, including a saw blade to meet most challenges of an outdoor activity like in the case for pitching tents at places whenever there was no accommodation available. This is my most prized possession and will be my go-to travel accessory for every trip going forward
Before boarding the truck, the truck driver and I agreed upon an x amount to carry my motorcycle to the next destination. On the way he suggested that I took my motorcycle a few more 100 kms further as the amenities there were far better and as he was anyway going till there he would take me along for the same price. Blessings come in disguise they say, so true! This kind man paid for my dinner and my breakfast the next morning, we slept the night in the truck and the next morning when I paid him the amount as we had agreed upon, he returned some part of it saying that the damages to my motorcycle were so severe that it would cost me some amount to get it fixed. Such a large hearted man resided in such a tiny little frame.
Maan gaye… God is great!
Munna – the truck driver. We had agreed on Rs 1500 to truck the motorcycle from Sarchu to Manali. On the way he suggested that I take my motorcycle till Mandi – further 100 Kms away as he was anyway going till there – for the same agreed price. He paid for my dinner, we slept the night in the truck and the next morning paid for the morning snack before making sure that he unloaded my luggage and the motorcycle in the service centre in Mandi.When I paid him the Rs 1500 as we had agreed upon, he gave back Rs 300 saying that the accident had damaged my motorbike pretty bad and I would incur some expenses fixing it.
There are the good people and then there are those people who do not believe in doing the good. One such incident I came across while I was crossing into Assam just before the Bhutan border. I suddenly took the wrong turn and got lost and reached a check-post a few kms in the opposite direction. There were a few policemen who were on duty there. When I told them the story and also narrated to them that this was my first solo trip across the country, they were excited and shared a few of their own road trip experiences with me. They not only gave me water and food to eat but were also kind enough to exchange my currency to Indian Rupees and share a map with me that would lead me to the border and help me reach Assam without any further road blocks. These guys helped me just like that with no vested interests…This gesture of theirs just made my day!
Further on, I continued with my journey and reached a tiny village called Moreh on the Manipur – Burma border with very little money in my pocket and was a little disappointed when I came to know that there were no ATM’s there. It was already around dusk but since I had no other option, I went over to the house of the village head and asked him if I could get to use a room in his home to spend the night. It was a little awkward for me initially but I had to gather the courage and do so. Even though they didn’t have any room to spare, they let me sleep in their porch. They provided me with a mattress, pillows, blanket and even lit a fire next to me to keep me warm. The village head and his family not only gave me a place to sleep, they also cooked a sumptuous dinner and breakfast the next day especially for me
The next day I was pleasantly surprised when he gave some money as a parting gift to keep just in case of an emergency :)
One night while I was in a small village in Meghalaya, I got stuck there due to heavy rains and landslides. The security personnel wanted to ensure the safety of all those in the village hence I was not allowed to travel that night. The homes of the villagers were too small to host a guest and their front and back yards were full of water so I asked one of the villagers if I could spend a night in the backseat of their tempo.
He affirmed and got me a pillow and a blanket. The next morning I tried to insist on paying him for the place which he refused with a big smile
These people come from humble backgrounds and I could see that so thought of helping in my own way. But inadvertently I was belittling his kindness. Every time I think of it, I think of the greatness of humanity that this villager expressed…
One day, my bike just gave in completely and broke down so I decided to stop some truck drivers on the highway to help me carry the bike to the next town where I could get it fixed. This was the tip of the iceberg in this epic trip of mine. I had one of the most memorable times of my trip with them. Chatting, singing songs, narrating stories, bathing under a waterfall on the roadside, preparing lunch together, getting my bike fixed while they watched over and so much more. They never once asked for anything in return and my last experience in the village taught me how not to belittle their gesture by offering money so I just bought some good alcohol for us which we sat together like friends and enjoyed under the starry sky on the edge of the highway before we called it a night and slept beneath the truck. That night was truly a night to remember!
The roads are terrible, no lamp posts on the edge of road and there are no signs of the highway. I suddenly came across and I asked them for directions to the highway. They said they were going in that direction and that I could follow them for some distance or maybe more. And the next thing I know is that after helping me find a lodge somewhere in the middle of nowhere for the night – the three of us are having dinner together after a round of beer and two rounds of whisky were consumed.
And no prizes for guessing who paid the bill….yes, it was them!
Cruising along on a deserted highway in a God forsaken place, I was listening to some favourite travel songs on my ipod when someone in an SUV overtook me and waved me to stop. Lot of things going through my head at that time and none of them were pretty like you may seem. Turning off my bike engine I pulled over and looked closely at the man waving at me. He did look familiar and suddenly the irritation turned into unparalleled joy because this guy was one of my closest friends. And I thought this only happened in movies :)
It was this childhood friend of mine whom I hadn’t met in a long long time and what a place to meet. We decided to have dinner and drinks together that night before retiring for the night and setting off on our respective journeys
They say Travel changes you, they say travel inspires you and they say a lot of other stuff too. I don't know about all that but I do hope this little blog made you visualize all that I witnessed and experienced