Each rider has a special ride, a dream ride that gave him sleepless nights, a ride that he wanted to fulfill and to experience.
And rider Kedarnath always dreamed of riding across Europe, riding through countries like Iran, Pakistan & various Asian countries to prove that humanity and human values are the same world over. Kedar undertook the journey of his lifetime and proved that survival of the fittest is possible.
The Kawasaki 4S belonging to his father, sparked in Kedar a yearning to ride that bike, a yearning to just hop onto it and take off. But unfortunately what Kedar thought would be fun, turned out to be disappointment for him. His father never allowed him to ride the bike; only because at some point before the age of fourteen, he happened to hit a lorry while riding his bicycle. Instead Kedar was assigned the task of cleaning and maintenance of the bike. Oh yeah, it was a disappointment for him but for four years he also treated the bike as his own like a loving child & took good care of it.
Kedar’s father was a mechanic and all his life he had seen his father dismantle bikes and big trucks in front of his eyes and seen him assemble ‘em back together. It was taken that Kedar would be nearly as good as his father. And obviously there had to come a day when he couldn’t take it anymore and he went up to his father and said, “Dad am eighteen now and I know everything & I want to ride the bike.” His dad gave him a skeptical look but he also knew, as any father would, that if he didn’t let his son ride now, he would obviously do it with his friends. His dad made up his mind then and took him for a five km ride. On the way back his father let him ride but not without giving him prior instructions & cautioned him to keep the speed at forty. There was excitement all over his face. Just like a little child who’s been handed a prized possession, Kedar took the bike and began the ride back towards his home with his father seated behind him.
Now can you imagine riding a distance of five kms at a speed of 40?! It would take so long to cover an otherwise short distance! But Kedar rode on; without grumbling, without going against his father’s set speed limit. And all he did was to enjoy the thrill of the ride. The wind slightly hitting his face, controlling the vehicle and the joy of his first motorcycle ride were little things Kedar had only ever dreamed of. But all good things do come to an end. And Kedar crashed just on the turn before his home. How can you take a deep turn at a speed forty? It goes without saying that for the rest of the ride home Kedar got a lecture from his dad but that lecture didn’t deter him from pursuing riding.
Living the Dream….Almost!
The short forty km ride gave birth to what was to be a lifelong passion of riding for Kedar. Though Kedar wasn’t allowed to ride his father’s bike, he shared his sister’s scooty. They would often end up fighting for it but of course ride he did. While all his friends rode motorcycles, Kedar didn’t envy them but instead joined them riding on the scooty. And this passion took him on his first long ride to Rajasthan. He spent a lot of time trekking and travelling apart from working. Kedar is a qualified engineer and whenever he could get a couple of days off from his work, he’d spend the time travelling. For now Kedar loved riding and that’s what he was doing, sans a motorcycle.
SEE ALSO: A Rider is Born
Eventually I have to get onto a motorcycle, this is what Kedar decided and hence began his search on the internet for a motorcycle he could buy or that appealed to him. Kedar finally settled on the Royal Enfield Thunderbird. Well, we all know what wonderful bikes Royal Enfield makes but would Kedar be allowed to purchase it was the million dollar question. He went to his dad and told him that he wanted to purchase his bike & his father agreed saying, “you are working now and you could purchase one but which one do you plan to buy?” Kedar was happy that he could buy one and so divulged the name of the bike he wanted to buy. And his father outright rejected it saying that it was too heavy for him.
This did upset him but he also knew that he would need his sister’s help. He went to her and told her about his plan of buying the RE Thunderbird. She too was skeptical but eventually she was convinced and agreed to help Kedar convince their father. It took her a week but she eventually did manage to convince him & Kedar lost no time in booking the bike. He even requested Royal Enfield to deliver the bike within three months instead of six months.
Having received his bike, Kedar’s only aim was to travel. He and his friends decided to take a month’s off to travel across the country. Sitting down to chalk out the route they decided on traveling to Jammu & Kashmir. Initially everyone was excited about the trip but after discussing plans with their parents & other family members, everyone started backing out one by one. Nobody even questioned about the bikes or their survival for so many days but the first thing people did was to try and dissuade them from making the trip on pretexts such as; being cheated or robbed, terrorist activities in J&K etc. Finally it was only Kedar who decided to make the solo journey after seeking permission from his office. Though of course, Kedar told his parents and colleagues at work that he was going to Pune to visit his sister. Kedar finally decided to go to Leh-Ladakh via Srinagar and he set off on his own.
The Indian Sojourn
With the destination finalized, Kedar had to research on the route to take and when the roads would open up to ride to Leh. He joined discussion forums and kept an eye out on blogs and finally came the day when he got to know roads were open to travel to Leh. Only a few chosen friends of his knew where he was exactly travelling to. Kedar began his journey from Hampi, onwards to Hubli & finally Pune to his sister’s place. He ended up telling her his exact destination & like any sibling, she promised not to rat out on him.
Indore, Gwalior, Mathura, Delhi, Ambala, Amritsar and so on his journey went. Being an amateur rider, he never knew how to correctly strap on his luggage. Each time he unstrapped, it took him two hours to strap it back on. Kedar had a wonderful time riding across the country and not once did he encounter people who wished to harm him or his bike or to even fleece him. On the contrary he came across people who were ready to help him. Seeing a biker riding the country was what surprised people. On his journey he visited a number of temples and every where people were accepting money to take so called devotees in the front to pray. But the only temple that amazed him was the Gurudwara where people peacefully stood in line to await their turn and he saw devotees rinsing plates and voluntarily offering their services. This act by devotees humbled and touched him thoroughly. And Kedar spent the night inside this holy place and to say the least it was a wonderful experience for him.
On one of the parts of his trip, Kedar met a young teenage boy named Mukesh. All of fourteen years, Mukesh was actually living his dream and doing what he wanted to do in life. Kedar spent an afternoon with him and had lunch with him. What amazed Kedar was his response when he asked if he goes to school or not. Mukesh simply replied that he didn’t need education. He was talking to tourists and rescuing drowning people, which is what he always wanted to do in life. This made Kedar realize that it took him twenty seven years and an engineering degree to only end up living his dream of a bikers’ life after so long. What was the point of an education he thought when all he wanted to do was to travel, trek & become a biker?
For Kedar, traversing the 8300 kms didn’t make him happy but his learning from the trip, people who he met, the trust he gained from strangers and above all else; he knew there was nothing to fear from his fellow countrymen. No robbery, no cheating, no terrorists’ attacks. He confidently looked people in the eye and said that our country is safe to travel and strangers welcome you with warm hospitality.
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