A small stuffed Panda leans against the projector as Prajwal adjusts the mic and fumbles with the presentation on the laptop. Coming from an airplane designer, it already promises to be an interesting talk (MTM2014). Prajwal breaks his ride for us in simple terms and methods, through different parts of the US and Europe; in easy ways that enabled him to see some of the most exclusive parts of these regions! For him, the driving force was nature, the lure of seeing exquisite sights and visiting those unreal looking places that Google threw up in searches. His chalked out what his enablers were and got right to visiting these destinations. On a bike! On a borrowed bike!
To celebrate hitting the 10,000 km mark on the roads and dirt tracks of India, Nepal and Bhutan on Morgan, I’ve decided to don my flack jacket, raise my head above the parapet and throw my hat into this well-trodden ring of motorcycle travel.
Riding on a borrowed bike
For many, this sounds blasphemous. Sharing bikes is almost never heard of for serious riders. But Prajwal was determined and chanced upon bikeswap.org, a pan world organization that connects riders from different countries, so they can borrow bikes if they are travelling to a particular country in lieu of giving their own to visitors to their country. Based on a massive amount of trust, Bikeswap does fairly well. It has 33 members across the world and is slowly growing to be the couch surfing like community of the biking world.
Partner in Crime
His partner in crime is the small stuffed Panda that goes everywhere with him. Slowly we see pics of the Panda in different landscapes – he is Prajwal’s travelling mascot, a companion if you will. His model against the beautiful landscapes, wherever Prajwal goes. We see him first in front of the Utah mountain and then all along the presentation to various places.
On the road with a minimal budget
Prajwal took us through the basic questions one grapples with before setting out. Travelling alone or with a group is the first one. A propagator of solo travels, he believes that we put ourselves in more vulnerable situations when travelling by ourselves. We are open to new cultures, make the effort of understanding a language and are thrown outside our comfort zone. Couch surfing was a great method for him to see new places on a budget and also get to know some fantastic locals. Ofcourse, good cooking skills always help! All he did was dream big and money was suddenly not an issue.
Affordable insurance, a borrowed bike, no customs, no international license, a vegan pillion rider for part of the journey who took care of the food and a desire to travel to unknown places is what he gathered up and set out. Prajwal’s story was an inspiration to those who want to ride to see exotic locations of the world and harboured doubts that they will ever be able to do it. After seeing this, all doubts were hopefully dispelled.