One week before the start of the ride, I did not even imagine that I would be on Pan India Motorcycle Tour for a campaign named Vandemaataram. Since my beloved teacher Dr. Murli knew that I found pleasure in bike riding and many other adventurous activities, he informed me about this campaign. I got the final confirmation of my selection just three days before the start of the ride. Finally, I booked my train tickets in Tatkal for Mumbai where the ride started. My dream of riding All India on bike came true; in fact, it all happened in no time.
Before taking you to my incredible journey, I want to briefly explain about the Vandemaataram campaign. It was the first and the biggest ever movement organized by the bikers to create awareness and motivation among the youth to VOTE in the 2014 Prime Ministerial elections of India. Five riders(including me) rode through almost all the State Capitals of India before elections spanning 15000 kms, and it was spearheaded by the world rider Bharadwaj Dayala who has been the only Indian till now to go around the world on motorcycle. In addition, this kind of movement was important because the average voting age in our country was 23 which means young people were going to play the key role in upcoming elections. Unfortunately, most of our youth take voting casually and don’t take the pain to go on a booth and vote. We found a way to spread the message “YOUR VOTE COUNTS” in the form of Vandemaatram campaign. Moreover, we were not supported by anyone but the people of this country. With this mission, we started the ride from Mumbai on 15th March 2014 and ended in Mumbai itself on 27th April 2014.
This trip was full of adventure, discovery and deep experiences, leaving behind lasting, blissful memories—the only things one can really possess. In addition, I got the chance to meet some really amazing and passionate people. Notably Dilip Bam from Pune known as the Bike Guru and did many crazy things when he was young. For example, he crossed the Sahara Desert on Kinetic Honda 25 years ago. Similarly, a very passionate rider Kalim Moochwaala from Hyderabad who did an All India ride of 35000 kms alone and that too at the age of 68. He holds the world record for riding these many kms in a single country. Apart from that, I met many other passionate people who achieved amazing feats where physical and mental strength is required like climbing the Mt. Everest, riding from Kanyakumari to Leh in record time etc. Surprisingly, you can’t say they have achieved so much in these adventurous activities by looking their professions because some were retired IAS officers, principal of schools etc. Lastly, it was really wonderful to meet many passionate women riders throughout India including the very famous bikerni — Chithra Priya.
The tour was too adventurous and unexpectedly successful. We were on the roads most of the time and rode through some of the dangerous places and conditions. Still, I am here alive. Certainly, this is the power of love and support which we got from the people all over India. We were really grateful to the media also, for covering our news and making it even bigger. From National news to print media to social media, we got a great response from everywhere. Furthermore, the students connected with us really well and showed much enthusiasm in our mission. They even sent us the pictures after voting which was really satisfying for us to know.
After traveling to all the different states of India and experiencing their cultures, one thing I’m sure of, it’s that India is really a beautiful country. The best part is, the moment you change the state the language, culture,terrain changes drastically. Though india is so diverse still one thing is common which is ingrained in every culture of india that is “Atithi Devo Bhava” (which means guest is god), we felt this because of the love and respect we got from everywhere. The regional divide we see on news all the time is not much in reality. In fact, most of the people don’t bother about it and are really good. I wish Eastern part of India would catch the development like other parts because it’s really lagging behind. And I hope there would be more developed cities in this part which looks really backward at some places.
I learned a lot from this trip which made me mentally stronger and more confident. First, it taught me to be more patient, and to accept unexpected situations. For example, we had many breakdowns in the night when we were trying to reach early. Certainly, we can’t do much in that by getting frustrated. We have to accept those unexpected situations. Second, I learned the importance of having a diverse team to get the success you want. Because of our group’s diverseness, we achieved so much. For example, one guy was good in making contacts which helped us to find other biker’s clubs in particular city which in turn helped us in organizing conferences in colleges. Similarly, one was good in writing so he handled social media updates and blogs and other was in speaking at the conferences about the campaign. I mostly did the latter one. Third, I learned a key lesson that both your work and life are like a unique marathon comprising of short sprints everyday where you have to run at a decent constant speed while focusing more on today’s target only.If you run too fast, risk increases tenfold and you will exhaust early. Whereas, if you run too slow you won’t be able to cover much distance and you lag behind a lot. In addition, if you focus more on the days ahead instead of today’s task then you won’t be able to perform efficiently today. This ride was like a unique marathon to us. Fourth, I learned that fitness and strength of the body matter a lot. We rode in extreme conditions of cold, hot, humid and body had to bear all that. In addition, sometime we ate food and drank water which were not much hygienic. So, your body should have strength to overcome all of this. Fifth, I learned to ride in a group efficiently. Because I mostly rode solo before this trip and solo riding is very different from group riding where you have to keep your attention on the fellow riders also. Finally, I learned to be more comfortable in uncertainty. For example, we didn’t know what we will do at some places because we didn’t know anybody there but once we took the decision of going there things worked out. So, it is more important to take the next small decision than to think about the whole. We were able to complete this tour because we focused more on the next steps rather than how we will do the whole tour. One more thing, I learned to face the camera confidently after doing so many press conferences. Before the tour, I was bit shy.
This trip couldn’t be done without the support of my family, friends, biker’s clubs and other individuals who helped me in the entire trip. My brother and friends encouraged me for doing the tour and even helped me with the money for the entire trip. As I was on the highways most of the time, Mom prayed day and night for my safety. It really boosted my confidence when she showed faith in my ability that I would be able to do that. Finally, biker’s club and individuals who showed so much love and helped us in arranging college conferences, media conferences, our stays — my deepest gratitude for all of them.
In the end, how can I forget the number of gifts in the form of t-shirts, personalized pen, stickers and much more. Also, the individual kindness like hotel owner’s who gave us discount or free rooms after knowing what we were doing and the reception we got everywhere where we were treated like celebrity which I can’t forget. I had the sense of deep satisfaction after completing the trip. When students sent me photographs of the inked finger after voting, it was really satisfying for me. By the way, India broke all the records this time in voting. We had our moments of frustrations and that’s the part of the journey where you will have enjoyable time as well as moments of frustration but the thing that mattered was positive moments completely outcast the moments of frustration.
To know more about the Vandemaataram, check out campaign’s Facebook https://www.facebook.com/JioAurJeeneDoCampaign/posts/413723132101168 and Twitter https://twitter.com/justvote2014