So here is the last part of my trip “Journey back home”. It took me nearly 50 days to reach my home from northeast India. I have already shared first two legs of this Journey in my previous posts (links below). This post is about the frequent Questions that people asked me during & after my journey.
Journey to Home
I decided to come back home not because I was tired or I was running out of money. This road trip was not planned and never had a time limit. But suddenly one day, I started missing my home and my old friends a lot, so much that I decided to go back. We never realize & appreciate the importance of small things in our life until we go far away from them . My taste buds were craving for home cooked food, ears deprived of the sound of my parents asking the most irritating question :”when are you getting married”. Enjoying the laziness of not doing any adventures or interesting except sitting at my friend’s place and watching movies. All I wanted to do was to go back home. This also helped me figure out my way of traveling: for me “travel till the time when you want to go back home”.
Returning back home was not as easy at it sounds, I was not afraid while I was traveling around India. But I was scared when I was coming back. I had a fear of not being able to go back home safely , a fear of never been able to tell the truth about my trip to my parents & what will I do once I reach home. A fear of not being able to find an ending of my story.
I packed my bags and started from Diburagadh, Assam towards my hometown but the wanderlust always diverted my route. One such place was Majuli Iceland . This place has many Satras (kirtan palace dedicated to Krishna) but I visited only 3 famous ones (as I was planning to go back home quickly). A part of my mind was confused in choosing the shortest route to home or and the other wanted to travel the remaining part of India and then go back home.
I wanted to finish as soon as possible but the feeling of leaving something for next time was not letting me choose the shortest route. I don’t know who wrote my story but all the character came in as a surprise: I met Sarath Shenoy (mojo Baba) and Shantanu on my way back and ended up becoming a travel speaker in MTM2016
This is the time when I was riding a lot. I never knew I could ride so long in a single day. I started riding for around 400km a day but got bored in a couple of days. So I kept changing my route each day and visited some places which I had left earlier such as Chitrakoot waterfall, Chhattisgarh, Lonar lake Maharashtra etc
When I reached Nagpur, most of Maharashtra & Madhya Pradesh got flooded and I didn’t find a single road which could connect me to UP via MP. One day, as I was trying to enter MP, coming down from a hill station of “Chikaldhara”, I saw everything covered with water. Water was overflowing from the fields to roads and was enough to scare a guy who doesn’t know swimming as well.
I just turned my bike and decided to end my trip at Mumbai (The place from where I started this trip). There I waited for a few days but the weather didn’t get better. So I decided to transport my bike to Delhi via train (transporting your bike on a train is one of the must-do things if you are traveling on a bike across India). Went to my parents and told everything. Finally, the road trip had a happy ending as I had wished 🙂
So now the Q & A for India Road Trip
These are the FAQs of my trip. Things everyone is curious about but answering them gets on my nerves sometimes. So here I am trying to settle everything once & for all.
Q: Why so Many days across India on motorcycle?. Riders have traveled across India in 2-3 months as well.
A: I had the same question in my mind when I was traveling around India. The answer has to be found on the journey itself. One day, when I was crossing MP during the last days, I met an old man who asked me the same question. I never had the answer but luckily he had. He told me a story which goes like this.
“Once upon a time, there were 3 frogs in a forest and man asked these frogs to climb a very high tree. The one who climbs to the top of the tree will become king but climbing on this tree is very tough. If anyone fell from the tree he will break his legs and hands. Even after knowing the consequence these 3 frogs started climbing the tree. 1st one climbed few meters and fell down. 1st frog broke his hand. The 2nd frog climbed and went a little ahead of first but again the 2nd one fell down and broke his leg and hand. The 3rd frog kept of climbing as if it was a very easy job. He climbed the top of the tree and came down. Just like that. Seeing this all animals of the jungle were surprised. Everyone surrounded the 3rd frog and asked: how he did he do it? The 3rd frog was not responding. A minute later one of his relatives came out of the crowd and told everyone that 3rd frog is deaf, he can’t hear anything. He saw other frogs climbing and he started climbing as well”
So my story is similar to the story of the 3rd frog who didn’t know anything, he just started a road trip with his friend because road trips are very cool these days. And the 3rd frog (me) ended up traveling across India for 500+ days so easily.
Q: What was our plan for the road trip across India?
A: We never had a plan. We just wanted to travel from Mumbai to Kanyakumari for a few weeks, because that’s what my friend Bhishma wanted to do. But after reaching Kanyakumari we thought let’s go back to Mumbai and travel some more places across south India. And later Bhishma left his job and we were moving towards Delhi via Gujarat and Rajasthan. After reaching Leh, Bhishma left the trip and I bought a 2nd hand motorcycle on which I traveled for 2 months alone. Later Bhishma joined me again and it became a very complex story to tell. We planted a tree on barren land and just kept watering every day, we didn’t know this small plant will grow up into such big tree.
Q: What are you doing now after India road trip? Are you going for India road trip again? Are you planning some new adventure?
A: Life is very painful and boring once you stop traveling. It took me a month to get back to normal life. I remember for first few days I used to wake up with morning dreams of going on the ride but as soon as I opened my eyes I found myself at a completely different location. I felt like running and not stop till I fainted. But slowly, over a period of time, I managed to adjust myself in big cities like Delhi and Mumbai.
Q: How we used to plan our route ?. What was our itinerary for India road trip?
A: It’s a difficult job and we were super lazy in planning. So after finishing our day journey, we used to look at the map and search which place sounds better or get an idea from various blogs. Next day we used to start moving in one direction and take suggestions from locals and tea shop owner for best routes. Here is our final roadmap
Q: What did we know about Royal Enfield motorcycle or preparation we made before starting our India road trip?
A: We didn’t prepare anything. We knew little about motorcycles and it would be unfair to plan a road trip when the person (Bhishma) with whom you are traveling doesn’t know how to ride a motorcycle. No route plans or any prior information, we just left within a week from the day this idea of road trip popped up in Bhishma’s mind. We just had Ladakh carrier on our bike to carry our luggage and a tent as we wanted to camp once during our trip.
I have ridden many bikes but still, don’t own one. I used to ride my father’s scooter at home. So for me, the solution to every problem would be put your scooter on a stand, tilt a little and then kick hard. 90% of scooter problems used to get resolved by this technique but same is not the case with a motorcycle. After Bhishma left me in Ladhak, I bought a 2nd hand thunderbird which used to break down every 200km and that bike made me a mechanic. You never learn unless you face problems.
Every time I used to give Bhishma’s bike for servicing, the mechanic used to tell me some basic problem. All those theory sessions during bike service were useful when I had to fix the bike myself.
Q: How much was our budget for each day during India road trip?.
A: We always tried to keep the budget to the minimum. We used to spend around 1000rs per day for two people(500rs each) including food, fuel, stay etc. We used to eat street food and store water in a bottle from the lodge where we were staying or Dhabas where we were eating food. Most of the time I was riding with my friend on one bike only and when I was riding alone the budget was little higher. It used to be around 800rs per day for me alone. The last 5-6 months in the northeast, I was running on donation and borrowed some money from Bhishma. So I actually don’t have a proper count of money which I spent in last 5 months.
Q: How to manage Cheap Stay when traveling in India? How to make a budget travel across India?
A: Initially we used to camp, you can camp anywhere near the beach in south India. If we were in doubt we used to ask local people and they used to help us provide a place to camp. But one day in Ramashewaram we didn’t find a place to camp and ended up in a Dharamshala. Dharamshala stay would be the cheapest you can get for stay and if you are not able to find one go near the railway station or bus stand in India. And you will get the cheapest place to stay.
When I was in Punjab, I figured out gurudwaras are also a good place to stay and get free food as well. The problem with gurudwara is they don’t allow the single person to stay but if you are on a long journey or you are a foreigner, you will definitely get a place to stay.
If you are planning a road trip, just go and visit any famous Royal Enfield mechanic near your city and ask him to put you in contact with riders club. Riders clubs have a great network across India, especially royal Enfield riders. If you get in touch with anyone of them, you don’t need to worry about the place to stay or getting stuck in some situation.
Q: How many kilometers we used to ride in a day?.What was the maximum kilometer we have covered ?.How many hours we used to ride in a day during India road trip?
A: Not sure why people ask this question. We were not a part of the race which we had to finish on time. So our daily limit was not fixed. Sometimes it was less than 50km from a city and sometimes it was more than 200 km. The maximum we had traveled in a day was around 400km and that too very rarely. We used to ride from morning 5am till 10am and later in evening from 4pm till 8pm. After which we used to take rest and explore local foods.
Q: How we used to manage our funds? Did we get any sponsor for a road trip across India? Is it possible to ride without sponsors across India?
A: During the trip, I was working for a software company IBM and had taken work from home. Bhishma had worked for a startup and saved some money for this trip. We used to travel from morning 4am to 10am and wherever we had reached I used to open my laptop and start working till 4pm meanwhile Bhishma used to read books.
We tried really really hard to get sponsors before starting this trip and even after 12 months of this trip but it didn’t work out for us. Nobody believed in us initially and later everyone had already endorsed somewhere. So they didn’t have the money or anything for us. So yes this trip was without any sponsor.
After leaving my job, I had to sell my 2nd hand motorcycle for which I got 25,000rs and borrowed Bhishma’s bike for next 4 months of travel across the northeast India. I was given donations by local people of northeast and AG office. Riders from the northeast and local people helped me a lot to complete this journey.
Q: What problems we had faced with the motorcycle during out India road trip?. What preparation should a new rider make before starting the India road trip?
A: If you are running a machine, chances are high that your machine will break down. I am not sure if a machine is available in this world which will never break down. So I will list some issue which I had faced with my motorcycle during this trip for those who really wants to know before going out on road trip. But these tips are mostly applicable for Royal Enfield
- Puncture. It’s very hard to fix a puncture alone. And it purely depends on your luck. We had only 3 punctures during our trip and every time he had, we were very close to puncture repairing shop. We used to carry all equipment to fix a puncture but we never get a chance to open that bag for our self. Although we did fix punctures of other riders.
- Clutch wire breakdown. If you want to change gear, the clutch wire will break down definitely. If you don’t want this, then ride an Activa. Initially, we didn’t know how to change it and I remember the first time it broke down the mechanic placed a Splendor clutch wire in our bike. We used to manage and take our bike to Royal Enfield showroom. There I learned how to change the clutch wire and from that time we used to carry a clutch wire. The clutch wire broke around 5 -6 times during the road trip
- Accelerator wire. It never broke down and we don’t know how to repair yet. But the first time our clutch wire broke down, the mechanic suggested us to carry an accelerator wire as well. We used to carry but don’t know how to repair
- Break shoe. No way to figure out about your brake shoe at any time. You need to replace them is when your bike starts making some sound on applying breaks. Even then we used to ride for around 1000km with that sound as we didn’t want to spend money on the replacement.
- Spark plug. If your bike starts missing or giving a jerk. Something was wrong with fuel which you had used and possibly your spark plug is covered with carbon. Take it out and clean it, that’s all you need to do. If you don’t do that there are chances your bike won’t start.
- Air Filter: Air filter is designed to intake dust-free air. So if you face issue while riding on high mountains you can remove the air filter for some time and try to run your bike. Since it’s not very expensive so just replace them whenever you are giving your bike for service
- Battery. If horn, indicators are not working but the neutral sign on the meter is green. That means bike battery is very low and your bike will not start easily or chances it won’t start at all. If even the neutral isn’t lit, check out the main fuse and fuse in your headlight areas. If fuses are fine then and still your bike showing no indication of light, something is wrong with wiring for which you need a mechanic (if you are new). The latter kind of problem generally doesn’t occur so often, it only happens if you are unlucky.
- Spokes . If you find broken spokes of the wheel. Don’t wait for it to reach a higher number. Even if you find a single spoke broken, try to replace it as soon as possible. Spokes are balancing the stress and if one is broken, the stress will be unequally distributed over the remaining causing an instant break of many spokes at the same time. And once that happens you won’t be able to balance your bike at high speed
- Chain: Keep your chain lubricated or at least do check once in a week if it’s sufficiently tight. If not, it will break the sprocket of your bike and you need to change the complete set.
- Mainframe bolt: If your bike starts acting like a spring. If, while accelerating or braking, you feel like the front and back wheels are giving your bike jerks, your bike’s frame bolt is loose. Just tighten it up before your bike break into two pieces.
- Silencer: If your silencer starts making a huge noise. You would have a broken the air seal of Silencer with the engine. In some cases, Silencer just comes out of the engine head. You can still ride your bike with a big noise like a tractor but don’t ride this in rains. Water should not enter into engine area
- Tik Tik sound from front: If your bike’s front area is making tik tik sound when during bumpy rides. The racer bearing of your handle is requesting you to replace it. You can still run your bike but since it’s not expensive. Better replace it on time
- Shockers: If you find oil leakage from front shockers, do replace and put a new air seal before going for a bumpy ride. You can still ride a lot if the oil leakage is small.
- Which engine oil I had used: Mostly Royal Enfield liquid gun and sometimes Motul, Castrol and even Veedol once.
- How many kilometers to replace engine oil: I used to change engine oil after 3k-4k kilometers. But later I found, you can run liquid gun same engine oil till 7-8k kilometers and with Motul 10k+ kilometers
NOTE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL: Do check out the engine oil level in every 2-3 days. Else even god won’t be able to save your Bike.
Q: What was my parent’s reaction to this road trip across India?. How did I convince them to support me?
A: They didn’t know about this trip. I never told them about this trip until I finally reached my home. I used to lie all the time when I got a call from my home. I feel what I did was the right thing to do. I knew my parent won’t be that supportive and even if they did support me, they will be worried about me every day. I was on a journey without an end date. And to ride a motorcycle on the highway you need to have a clean mind always. That’s the reason I never told them.
While Bhishma’s parent was very supportive. To be true it was Bhishma’s father who sent him a motorcycle and asked him to go around on it.
So Finally when I went home and told my parents. Initially, they thought I am joking. Later I showed some photographs and articles about my journey which were published on online channels. They started believing in me. I was prepared for a flying chappal from my father or getting beaten by a Jhaadu by my mother. But to my surprise they just let it go. They say since I have already done it, there is no use of doing anything now.
Q: What did I learn on this road Trip?. What changes I have seen in myself after this road trip ?. Do we really learn anything from the road trip?
A: Do you know what did you learn when you were 4 years old?. Do you know when did you learn to walk? Do you know what did you learn when you were 12 years old ?. I don’t remember what I learned when I was so young. But whatever I do in my daily life is because of the knowledge I had received in so many years. Ranging from the smallest work of dialing a number on my phone or purchasing anything from supermarket
Same answer goes for my road trip learning as well. When you are on road you learn every day but you never make it count or note down in a book what you had learned during this road trip. Small things keep on adding to your experience and your thoughts. What I am today is the reason for this road trip.
So basically I don’t know what I have learned. But still, if you wish to know, you can offer me a free coffee or beer. Whatever you feel that you have not learned or I have different in me is because of this road trip I took.
Q: What was the most memorable moment of this journey? What is the first moment which comes in my mind when I close my eyes?
A: Again a question which I never want to answer but still people never stop asking this. Whenever I think about my journey I remember a lot of things. From the first day when we were leaving Bhishma home at 4am and in the basement of his building, we were trying to shoot the video of our moving bike with GoPro, the moment we camped or the moment we woke up every day early morning to see the sunrise. For me, the trip is a memory and I can’t choose a day from this trip just to answer everyone question. Maybe my thoughts are different or they have developed differently over the period of time. But seriously I remember a lot of things from my journey and if I remember them all they are memorable moments.
Q: Have you ever met an accident ?.
A: Yes we did. Bhishma was very new to riding and new people always have this craze for speed and taking a turn touching the knee on road. One day he was doing the same when we were returning back to Mumbai and suddenly two trucks came from the front. I was sitting on back seat looking at the sky and suddenly I felt like I have placed my finger in an electric socket. Few seconds vanished from my life and I was on road still looking up at the sky. Bhishma was screaming “are you fine ?” and I was trying to understand what happened. And in India when two boys are on the road no one will come and pick them up.
Generally, in an accident, the pillion rider suffers more than the rider. Bhishma was thrown away from the bike while I went with the bike. I had some injury but recovered in a week only and we were on road again.
Q: Place which we liked most?. Places I want to visit again in India? Roadtrip I wish to take again in India?
A: Again one more question which everyone wants to hear and I seriously don’t want to reply. I assume people who travel regularly will understand that we don’t travel to rate places. We travel to enjoy and experience things which were impossible inside a room or in our comfort zone. I have enjoyed talking to tea shop owners on highway or farmers and if that’s the only thing I am doing in a day I am happy with that also. I wish I could remove the comparative words from the dictionary of travelers.
Q: What was the Purpose of this road trip or cause of this road trip or a message which we wanted to send to this world.
A: We never had any purpose or cause. People called it wanderlust and my mom used a word “Awara” for people like me. I guess my mom use the most appropriate word for me. An Awara is a guy who is just killing his time on a motorcycle and spending all day with his friend who doesn’t speak one sensible word all day.
Q: What I met any terrorist, militant or Naxalite during my journey across India?
A: No I never met anyone of these. Or maybe I did, I just don’t know. All the people I met across India treated me well. Sometimes I had a language barrier but as soon as I was able to tell about my journey, I was only welcomed by people.
Q: Have you ever stopped by police while traveling across India on a motorcycle?
A: We were stopped once when I was drunk sitting on pillion seat and Bhishma was riding and we turned our bike to no U-turn area and asked a policeman standing for direction.
Also once I was in Punjab and same time Gurudaspur incident happened and I was traveling in some border area of Punjab.
Except above incident, I was never stopped by any policeman. The return journey I did was without bike papers and after Leh, for almost 6 months, I was traveling with a laminated colored printout of my driving license as I had lost my license in Leh
Q: What Riding gear we used for this motorcycle road trip across India?
A: We only had helmets except that we didn’t use anything during our ride. Initially, we had one helmet but later, after our first accident, we bought another helmet. Each helmet was around 900 Rs, so they were not very trustworthy helmets. We were using them just to save our self from the fine of riding without a helmet.
But I do believe riders should have riding gear. They are expensive but they will definitely save your life. I was just lucky that nothing serious happened in my journey so far. I tried to get a sponsor initially but didn’t found, so didn’t get the gear
Q: How we managed while traveling across the different state with the different language?
A: Each state of India speaks different languages and if you are traveling to offbeat places, Probably no one will understand Hindi or English. It happened with me a lot. I was not able to communicate but a smile had helped me to fill the gap. If you know how to smile you don’t need to learn so many languages. A smile is a gesture which will fill all barrier. Once this gap is filled and has received a return smile, you can ask your question with a hand signal or whatever possible way you can think of. The other people will try his best to understand it.
Q: What speed I used to ride ?. What was my average/maximum speed during this trip?
A: I rarely look at the speedometer of the motorcycle. But I assume normally it was around 60-70 Km/ hr. I enjoy riding at this speed. I was riding on 35o cc royal enfiled which starts vibrating a lot after 80km/hr. So for me no use of pushing it.
Also, I realized at 60 km/hr, I was able to look around freely without concentrating on the road much but if I go above 80km/hr, I can’t look here and there and concentrate on the road only.
I was in Punjab when I was riding on my 2nd hand Royal Enfield Thunderbird . I took out the speedometer wire and threw it over highway so I can ride at a speed which I like. It could be fast or slow but I should not be looking at the meter.
Q: Did we get mobile network and the internet everywhere across India?
A: Most of the places you will get the mobile network. Definitely, there are a few places like Leh region or northeast India where you won’t get the internet. But mostly you will get 3G network. I had BSNL sim and airtel sim. One of these always used to work. Even in the remotest areas of India.
Q: Have we been to places where no one else has been before?
A: I never been to any places where I was the first human being. I have been to some places in northeast India where no outside tourist have ever been to but at those places also locals villagers have traveled to before me.. So, in short, I never found Neil Armstrong footprint at any place which I have traveled across India
Q: Is it safe for Girls to travel across India ?
A: It’s a debatable question. And whatever I say , I will never be able to tell the experience of a girl traveling across India. To me, everyone was so nice and helpful . I assume they will be helpful to girls traveler as well. But I am not sure if they will feel the same safety as I felt during my journey.
Q: Do we used to ride in Night as well ?. Is it safe to ride at night ?
A: Only once I have traveled during the night and that too when we were in south India during Diwali . Apart from this, I have never traveled . To me , there is nothing to see at night . And I am not a night out person. I prefer to wake up early morning and sleep during night time. So I used to ride during the day only and start as early as 5am or 6am.
If you are riding from 5am to 7pm anywhere across India, India is very safe for travel. I can’t say anything after this time as even I have not traveled
Q: How much money a motorcyclist need for traveling across the country ?
A: You need around 20,000 rupees per month if you are riding solo to manage your trip with the average daily riding of around 200km. Around 15,000 rupees per month if you are riding with a pillion.
This is minimum you can do with the cheap stay and eating local food. Most of this money will be spent on fuel. For Royal Enfield 350 just consider 2rs per kilometer and around 1000rs per month over bike servicing . Now it all depends on you if you are willing to ride across India , or Kashmir to Kanyakumari or whatever route you are planning. You need at least this much money.
Q: What all places you can visit in the northeast? How you managed to travel across Northeast India ?
A: Some areas of Northeast have issues but it’s not all northeast. Out of the 7 states, Nagaland and Manipur are the only one where you need to be worried about.
Meghalaya and Arunachal are most peaceful places you will find around India. Mizoram once used to be very active in militancy but now a very peaceful place as well. In fact, if you ask people for help, they will try to help as much as possible.
Manipur and Nagaland have some issue if you are unlucky. You can travel anywhere in Manipur just don’t travel during the “BANDH”. for that you should keep checking the local newspaper. Because all these Bandhs are not random, they are announced at least 2-3 days before that. I traveled to almost all corners of these places and didn’t find any problem (not sure about the night). At some places, you might face some issue .
Q: Do we carry power bank and fuel storage?. Did we ever run out of fuel during this trip?
A: When traveling in India you will get fuel at most places within a 50km range. Some places are an exception like northeast route and Leh-Ladhak but there also you will get fuel in at shops by paying some extra money . So we never carried fuel except for Leh route
When I am traveling , I use my phone only for call and photographs . I don’t use for any other purpose like navigation or internet . So, I never needed a power bank. I used to keep my phone on charging at night which used to work till next night charging time
Q: How we keep track of money spent by each one of during this Trip ?. Any mobile app to make account of money we were spending ?
A: We used to withdraw money from Bhishma’s ATM . At the end of every month, we used to take out a mini-statement and divide the complete expenditure into the half. We were not that good in maths and not interested in keeping account of rupees we spent.
So that was the list of questions which people had asked me during my journey and after my journey. But when I was returning from the Northeast to Mumbai, a mechanic asked me this amazing question.
Sir, you have traveled so much, HOW IS MY INDIA?
I didn’t have an answer to this question or I was not prepared for this question that time. All these questions which we come across on road , we get the answer on road itself. I tried to figure out the answer to this question and finally I realized, this is the reason I traveled across India. This is the question which I had and which kept pushing me to travel. So my advice to those people who have this question in mind, just go out and see yourself. I can’t answer this question, you have to find the answer to this question by yourself .