“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man”
There is just no way around it, India is a reality bitch-slap of sorts that will leave you both captivated and inspired. I showed up knowing that in completing this ride I would be challenged both physically and mentally but I never dreamed there was this place on earth that would end up challenging so many of my thoughts and supposed inner truths I’ve carried through life thus far.
There’s the unrelenting and extreme heat. The endless clouds of road dust that will leave you chewing on grit and have your sinuses a congested wreck. There’s the traffic which can be likened to salmon charging up a river during spawning season. Then there are the roads, or lack there of. The days when you thought you could make 400 kilometers and you ride all day even skipping lunch just to reach a meager 250 K’s. In the higher elevations there’s a whole different set of challenges. Nevertheless, through some of the most steadily challenging environments over 6500 km’s, I can say this trip was one of the most fulfilling journeys of my life. Or simply, I’m a glutton for punishment.
You see, India is an in your face, raw slice of life. Its truly unlike anywhere I have ever visited before. This sparkly hotbed of diversity extends to every corner of the country. Did you know India has no uniform language? In fact it has 24 different languages spoken throughout the country which makes English an obvious crutch. No one wants to hear my attempt at the local language so speaking English seems to “kind-of” work everywhere. 80 percent of the country practice some form of Hinduism which may contribute to the high level of tolerance and respect to others. Running parallel to the tolerance is a level of hospitality that is…indescribable.
India is home to over 1.3 BILLION people, thats BILLION. To better put that into perspective, thats nearly 4 times the population of the United States living on roughly half as much dirt, or in this case a dirt sand combo. From a US point of view it would be roughly 8 times as many people per square mile. There is a pace which is intense and absolutely relentlessness. Honestly, it took me a bit to get used to. A vivid moment comes to mind where I seriously questioned whether my “Travelrexia” had maybe gotten me in over my head…but then I realized I was just hungry and everything was OK.
Suffice to say, I’m not so happy with the media and the way they can paint situations or places. For this reason I do my best to keep from dwelling on what “I think” a place or experience is going to be like. I’ve been happy just allowing things to unfold organically with minimal research and maximum local knowledge when I can find it. I think its human nature to fall back on what we have heard, read or seen on TV. I’ve had to use some creativity to keep my mind focused on the present, but I really think its this totally unbiased approach has allowed me to take my adventures to a whole new level.
I was fortunate once again when the travel gods smiled upon me with a convenient connection to my now good friend, Divy. Not only is he an outstanding Ambassador to India, he is also a “Travel Adviser for All Things India”! I’ve come to develop a recipe of sorts for planning an epic adventure. If you are planing this adventure outside of your country or comfort zone its been my experience that in order to end up with success the main ingredient must be local knowledge. What better way to get local knowledge than directly from another rider over dinner. Just so happens that he had completed a very similar ride and since he understood the route and respective areas I would be traveling through as well his advice was perfect. For this ride I was searching for a Royal Endfied Motorcycle. This is a bike I wasn’t very familiar with. I was fortunate that he had Royal Endfield experience and answers to all my questions. At that point it really looked like I didnt have anything standing in my way besides just doing the darn thing! It was the absolute easiest planning sessions I have ever had. Over a dinner of “Chicken Lolipops” (which are very similar to drumstick chicken wings) some tasty veggies and a few delicious Kingfischer brewskis my next three weeks were planned out! I would leave two days later with the perfect excitement/fear ratio and full of wonder for just what lie ahead. ADV ON!