The Goan motorcycle diaries
Two best friends, Sameer Vernekar and Tushar Kambli, went on an all India bike trip from Goa to Kashmir to Kanyakumari and back,in 50 days, fulfilling their dream of travelling across India before turning 25. Café speaks to the youngsters about their experience on the road, strengthening their childhood friendship and the new perspective India offers to travellers
Sameer Vernekar from Chimbel and Tushar Kambli from Ribandar have been best friends right from their Kindergarten class ,moving on to the same school, college and working in the same professionas architects. Their friendship has grown with them and they believe that it can give stiff competition to the bond between Jai and Veeru. They recently returned from an all India bike trip for which they set out from Goa on May 12, 2018. After completing 50 days on the road, they have fulfilled their dream of touring India before turning 25.
They went on their journey on a Royal Enfield 350 and travelled a total 11,580 kilometres, equipped with just the bare minimum clothes, sleeping bags, tents and utensils to cook food. From Goa, they travelled through Satara, Shirdi, Ujjain, Chittorgarh, Pushkar, Ajmer, Jaipur, Delhi, Ludhiana, Patnitop, Srinagar, Leh, Ladakh, Manali, Chandigarh, Delhi, Mathura, Lucknow, Khajuraho, Hyderabad, Gandikota, Tirupati, Chennai, Mahaballipuram, Pondicherry, Tharangmbadi, Pichavaram, Rameshwaram, Dhanushkodi, Kanyakumari, Trivandrum, Thalassary, Kochi, Mangalore and back to Goa. Sameer and Tushar have been planning this trip for many years and they wanted to be earning and independent before they set out on this journey. “We were planning this journey from our first year at Goa College of Architecture in 2012, though, at that time, it was just a trip to Leh, Ladakh. But since that route has been done and dusted many times over, we decided to explore the rest of the country. We came across a book, ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ by Che Guevara, where he and his friend go on a similar road trip across his country, so that acted as an inspiration. Due to financial issues, we had to work for two years after college to be prepared for the trip. Convincing parents was very difficult but we were very firm with our decision that we needed to complete this trip before turning 25,” says Sameer. They documented their travels on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube as ‘bullet.beard.biryani’. The two travelled on their bike till Jaipur, where they met riders who were going to Ladakh and joined other riders in Gurugram and Srinagar. They braved through challenging weather and terrain. “In Rajasthan, the temperature was 47° and it was very difficult to ride in the scorching heat. In some parts of Kashmir, the temperature was -7° but it was fun riding there. We drove on good roads, bad roads, no roads, crossed rivers, off-roading, through desserts, rocky terrain and even in marshy areas. It was an all in one experience,” reminisces Tushar. Sharing some experiences on the journey, Tushar says, “We were chased by buffaloes in Maheshwar, MP. We stayed on petrol pumps and dhabas, slept on footpaths, we had to sleep holding a knife in our hand. While crossing Chambal area, we were scared because of the stories which are related to this place. We drank lemonade in Ujjain but it was ‘bhang’ lemonade, so we went on an eating spree after that, which was funny. At one dhaba in Telangana, I was woken up by a truck driver to ask about my shoes and he told me he wants to buy them. At first, I was scared but later we became good friends. It was overall an epic experience.” Sameer adds, “We made a lot of friends across India, even some foreigners became best friends. But there are few memories that changed our perception towards people. We were travelling from Khajuraho to Hyderabad and the distance was roughly 1,000kms. After crossing the wildlife reserve in MP, we came across a village called Harrai. Since there were no dhabas and the nearest petrol pump was 70 km away, we took a stop at a small roadside tea stall and asked the owner whether we could stay there for a night. The old man agreed and offered us a ‘charpai’ (cot) to rest. He got his son's cot and gave it to Tushar, which Tushar refused. But the old man said ‘dinbhar bike chalake thak gaye honge, aram karo’ (you must be tired riding the bike the whole day, take rest). At night, we were eating biscuits for dinner and he told his wife to give us chapatis and bhaji. We later realised that that was their dinner which they offered us and they stayed hungry or ate half stomach but made sure we were full. The experience withthese people with humble means and big hearts was one of the best travel memories.” Travelling through India, their perception of the country has surely changed. “It’s called Incredible India for a reason. We were very happy when foreigners told us that India is the only country with such rich culture, heritage and natural wonders. There are many places in India that can give tough competition to western monuments. But sadly, some places lack maintenance. But the people of India are very good. They looked upon us as their own family and treated us the same,” says Tushar. The duo has already started planning their next big trip for 2020 and will also make short, weekend trips every month. Fulfilling their dream has brought them more than pride and happiness. “It does feel great, because we had to face a lot of criticism at first. Convincing parents was difficult. Initially, people laughed at our idea of travelling the whole of India. But we are grateful to all the people who were a part of our journey, and also for all the rejections as it just made us stronger and determined towards our goal. When you know your parents are proud of you, seeing them smile, that is the best feeling in the world,” concludes Sameer, with a smile of accomplishment.
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