RAMANDEEP KAUR | NT BUZZ
Young adventurers, Sameer Vernekar and Tushar Kambli had been going on bike trips together since 2011. In May this year however, they set out on their first long distance road trip on a Royal Enfield Classic 350. The duo biked from Goa to Kashmir to Kanyakumari and back in a span of 50 days clocking 11.580 kilometres.
Friends since their kindergarten days, Sameer and Tushar, both architects, always wanted to explore rural India, its culture, the architecture and the vibe of the place. “If one wants to discover local India, it can’t be done by staying in hotels. The only way to explore India is by choosing the internal roads, not the highways,” says Ribandar-based Tushar, who is part of the Royal Enfield group called ‘The Gaurs’.
In fact, the idea of the trip was born one fine day when Tushar was chatting with his friends when it suddenly dawned on him that the usual life scenario begins with school, college, a 9-to-5 job, marriage, having children and then finally waiting for death. People usually only go on vacations to escape the mundane life. “This is the ideal idea of life envisioned by an average person. There is nothing wrong in living the textbook life, but I soon came to realise that I was not meant for the same,” he says.
When his pal Sameer who hails from Chimbel proposed the trip, everyone called it ‘crazy’ but Tushar readily hopped on board and said “let’s go”. And since they both knew the risks behind this trip, it scared and excited them at the same time. “We can potentially give competition to Jai and Veeru,” adds Sameer.
Initially the plan was to do a trip from Goa to Leh, Ladakh, but instead they decided to try out a route that few have attempted. It took them five months to finalise the route, which involved carefully studying the roads and terrains.
The main problem however was financing the whole trip. Although the idea for the trip was born in 2011, it took them years to achieve their dream. After college, Sameer worked for two years and spent his entire savings on this trip with help and motivation from his friends. “I had heard of crowdfunding but sadly I didn’t find anyone who was willing to fund this trip. Also at first the plan was to do this trip on our own dime and before turning 25 which we successfully achieved,” says Sameer.
A limited budget meant they sometimes skipped their meals or cooked food for themselves wherever possible. Instead of spending money on hotels they took shelter in petrol pumps, dhabas, and tea stalls. Meandering through internal roads also meant that at times they had to sleep on footpaths and on the roadside too. Although Google Maps proved helpful, there were areas in which it didn’t work.
The boys also faced tough weather conditions surviving temperatures as high 47 degrees in Chittorgarh to –7 degrees in Sarchu. In fact in addition to the high temperature in Rajasthan, they also had to drive through a sandstorm, which was quite a task. They travelled from the highest motorable road in the world to the southernmost tip of India.
As far as safety was concerned they were well prepared with protective gear. “Whenever I slept out in the open, I slept holding a knife in my hand,” reveals Sameer.
A particular scary episode was driving through Chambal area in Madhya Pradesh. “I had heard enough stories of the region. So passing through that area was a bit risky as people carried rifles with them with ease. We still didn’t know whether they were dacoits or normal people,” says Tushar.
The Himalayan terrain was also pretty challenging with the roads counted as among the dangerous in the world. “Due to lack of oxygen on the mountain tops the bike had problem with engine combustion and the speed was extremely slow. So tackling the rocky and snow covered terrain was a big task but I enjoyed every bit of it,” says Tushar. He also rode from Tharangambadi in Tamil Nadu to Rameswaram with a fever. “I thought to myself this is what I’ve signed up for. With that fever I drove around 350 kilometres and made it till Rameswaram,” says Tushar.
But there were plenty of moments to be grateful about. During their journey they met people who offered them their own food, even if it meant staying hungry themselves. “Staying with local people changed my perception towards life,” says Tushar.
With a memorable trip now done, the duo have already begun planning for their next big trip in 2020, which, Tushar discloses, will set a record. “I was among the people who thought money is God. This trip made me realise that travelling is the only thing which makes you rich,” says Tushar, while advising others too to take a break and go exploring the world.