Whenever I’ve planned something, I always created a backup to it, and that is No Plan.
Exploration was on my mind for a long time now, and nothing better than a road trip on my bicycle, could have been done. It was almost a year now, I’ve been in planning this trip, but, I planned it for 3 times, and guess what!! I failed and then it was never executed.
This was October, the month of the festive season, starting from Dussehra to Diwali to many other festival celebrations taking place all over India. For me, I would say, the perfect time was some days before Diwali, when once again a thought strike my mind and an idea floated to travel across India. During the same time, we also shifted to our rented house, as our house was going through reconstruction process. Just a week before Diwali, I suddenly decided to leave home a day after the festival, and start the journey on a bicycle to the unknown roads – all alone. I started to look for a route map, keeping in mind not to plan much, with the help of Google Maps features from Baba Google, and easily traced my first impression of the route from North to South of India, i.e. Khardungla pass (world’s highest commutable road) to Kanyakumari, covering approximately some 4000+ kilometres. (Chirag – Another young lad, from Jaipur, left for his tour of 7 southeast Asian countries, on October 6, and by now, I was carrying fire with me to leave as early as possible). You can follow him here (https://www.facebook.com/chirag.singal)
Taking advantage of home and festive situation, I always knew this very well, that everyone would be busy with the household chores arranging the messed up house and preparation of celebrations, so no one would take notice of me, and in the shadow I started gathering and collecting essentials for the trip. A long list of things, varying from emergency to essentials. It included bungee cords, Pannier Bags, which I borrowed from Sarthak (Passion for sports, especially football and cycling are the best way you can describe him, else than this, this guy is clean hearted, and his other interests do include Snake Catching), sleeping mat, riding kit, extra clothing, warmers, a jacket (In case I might find cold somewhere), goggles and a few more things to complete the list, and yes, not to forget even to mention: my proud obsession, my love, my riding partner, she carries me with ease, so it’s my very own “FEELINGS” aka my roadie Bianchi. And to tell you more, actually your list never gets completed as when you start moving, you remember a few more things, and when you cover some distance, it’s a few more, you just keep remembering and they will keep falling on your head. The only way to combat this is stop thinking about the “THINGS”, and keep going leaving everything else on the situations that will arrive.
I choose North-south segment because unlike everyone, who did a road trip, at least what I heard about and few seen, this was most famous and favorable with everyone. It was the most heard about. Now I start to trace locations or my midpoint destinations, based on average riding kilometres every day, but in actuality, I never knew whether I would actually be at that place or not, I might stop before or I may go further. There was a supposed plan, but actual NO PLAN. Starting all the way from Khardungla in Kashmir, I moved downwards, covering the states of Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and then somewhere in the middle, I stopped before crossing the state completely. Thus, in my higher illogical brain a few questions arise, like, what made me choose this route and why at all I’m going this way? What is it that pushed me to travel north-south horizon? All of a sudden I could realize that it was stories and people and then I said it to myself – NO, you are not going this way, you are not going the same way that others have gone. The instinct of something different was working hard with me, and from here then it came to life, the idea to travel horizontally instead of going vertically. Without giving it a second thought, I decided that I’ll be going from west to east, covering India horizontally from border to border, i.e., from Jaiselmer in the west to Imphal in east. So in short the whole idea was getting into the roots by travelling in India on bicycle.
Initially, it only took me some 2 days to trace the route and figure out the tentative stop points for night halts. Accordingly a “PLAN” of 25 days, is what I gave my parents that introduced them to whole route and halting destinations, but in my mind things were all different. As Diwali in India is celebrated for a few days, followed as ‘choti diwali’(as we used to call It in our childhood, and now other children say it the same), ‘Badi Diwali’(official Diwali), ‘govardhan puja’, ‘annakutt’ and ‘bhai dauj’. The next day, on the day of Govardhan Puja, a few members of the family were informed. (During the time I was continuously in touch with Chirag, and sent a copy of route to him, as he already passed from a few points I was passing through).
I was to leave for Jaiselmer on 26 October, and it was 25th, , all relatives were home to celebrate ‘bhai dauj’, and I was working fast paced to collect all important things needed. A few, say some 3-4 members of the house already had a bit of a hint about my travel plans, and else were completely unaware, thus a point of suspicion arrived and finally one of them asked, why are you in so much hurry and what is it that I am trying to do. Finally, without having any other option left, I had to tell it to some relatives present there. Everyone was shocked, but no one has time to think and say anything. Last but not the least, after booking the ticket and collecting all things in place, I informed my Father, and it was in evening few hours before I slept.
He was calm (he has been an athlete himself and was one fine recognized name in athletics in the city), and in a friendly voice he popped up a few questions about where I’ll be staying, food and some other basics. I replied straight, wherever and whatever I get I’ll take it and sleep in places.
He, then, utilizing his contacts, started calling sports coaches and other significant people making arrangements for me at different places. To introduce me, by telling them about the journey I was about to start, and to one of them, he mentioned, “isne to aaj hi bataya hai, wo to ye apni diary galti se kamre me bhul gaya tha to maine padh lia”( He told me today only, he only left his diary in my room, so I read it and came to know about it). I laughed silently, feeling the fatherly love, he truly is a great dad. He did not question me anything else, and supported me mentally to begin and complete my journey.
He arranged to stay in Jaiselmer at National Basketball Academy and also asked the Chief Coach to arrange a flag off. I couldn’t have been more happy. He then helped me pack up left out things, as we did a trial by loading all my luggage on the bike. (The trail was important, I remember this from the time when Chirag left, so I made sure to do it with my bike too).
It was a long session of phone calls, with some close friends and relatives…..
And then it was power sleep, so I could gather all energy from the world and feel good enough with everything coming my way and say –
“Bring It ONN, it’s Time to MAKE IT HAPPEN”.
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