Right from my college days, the one thing that never failed to charm me was the sight of bikers, their gear and the sheer look of adventure that came with it. Watching movies like Easy Rider, I was quite the dreamer when it came to boys and bikes.
However, back in those days, I remember being stuck with friends who rode only Kinetic Honda’s or pushing my luck, one of those simple bikes. I didn’t even bother asking for a lift to college, let alone suggest a long road trip.
Times have changed. These days, college kids have sexy bikes and google maps. They don’t just explore their city. They explore their state and the neighbouring one and the neighbouring one and so on.
Meet Prateek and Sarthak Darolia, 22 and 19 respectively, students of B. Tech. Automobile Engineering and BBA. That was the boring part of the resume. The interesting part follows. They are brothers, bikers, backpackers and bloggers all rolled into one. I don’t exactly remember how we met, whether it was online, or in person, through work, or through mutual interest in travel, it just doesn’t matter. I’m glad I did.
Reading about their recent ‘Rajasthan Odyssey’ in their blog ‘The Journey to Infinity‘, I decided to interview the two of them. After all, when I am not traveling actually, I vicariously travel through others. Read on…
Why do you travel?
Many reasons. Firstly, for the love of it. And added reasons like taking a break or for our regular dose of adventure. Meeting new people. Seeing new cultures. Trying new food.
Is there any reason you prefer road trips to other modes of travel?
When it comes to priorities, we prefer bikes as both of us share the common obsession with bikes. As bikers, we start to communicate with the road and the winds. We are not bound my road signs and tarmac. We just head to wherever we think our destination might be. Be it a national highway or the bed of a river. Our love for biking brings us closer to each other every time we do a trip.
When did you guys start riding?
I bought my first bike when I was in class 10 and Sarthak was in class 7. We both started riding at the same time. Its been a while and we’ve owned various bikes but there is one bike that we want to own for the rest of our life – The Royal Enfield Bullet. As a fun fact, the total money we’ve spent on renting this specific bike till date exceeds the cost of the bike !! Never had enough cash in lump sum to buy one. But one day for sure.
What is it that you can do on a bike that you can’t do if you don’t have a bike?
When not traveling on a bike, we are bound by the decisions of the guide or the bus driver or whatsoever. But if you are riding solo, there is no one who has the say in your decisions. If you want to sit in the middle of the desert to admire the sunset, you can. If you want to take the road less traveled, you can. If you want to feel the breeze on your face, you can. Otherwise, taking spontaneous decisions becomes difficult. FREEDOM is the word. Freedom of the mind, freedom of decisions, freedom of time, freedom of space and freedom of self.
Would you rather travel as 2 brothers or would you rather travel with friends?
I have always been getting requests from people who want to join with us but time and again, I avoid. There is a reason behind this. When the trip is a weekend trip or for a few days, I don’t mind ( in fact I enjoy) company. But when on a month long road trip, it is only my brother or some very close friends with whom I’d ride. Reason being that, on such long road trips, you need to know the person in front of you inside out. Both of them should have the highest level of compatibility and the biggest of all PATIENCE. Because there WILL be situations where for some reason or the other, there will be a conflict of interest. An impatient rider would ruin the entire trip. A patient one would bear with it and make sure the ride goes on.
Most memorable time as brothers? Biggest fight you guys had on your trip?
The most memorable time was when we were riding to Khardung La and my brother was following me behind. I reached the top and Sarthak hadn’t reached for about half an hour. I was worried as I knew that the terrain was dangerous and very risky. I went back down in search of him and found him stranded because of a faulty spark plug. That very same day, while returning, I fell prey to HAS (High Altitude Sickness) and he was the one who rode me to the Army hospital where I regained consciousness. That incident bought us very close to each other.
As far as I can remember, the biggest fight we ever had was over who gets to get clicked! Both of us like being in pictures so we have to keep clicking each other. Sometimes I was not satisfied with the photos, so we’d do it all over again. Same was the case with him. That’s it. We never fought over anything else.
What has been the craziest thing you have done on any of your road trips?
Sarthak’s bike had broken down in the middle of the desert. The nearest place of help was 22kms away. I thought of towing him but didn’t have a tow chain. I managed to get some storage sacks and a scissor from a villager. Cutting them in strips and tying them together with knots, I managed to make a make shift tow chain strong enough that easily towed Sarthak and his bike for the next 22 kms! You should have seen the expression on the people’s faces after seeing us in that condition.
When you travel, what are the three things you have to do?
We make sure we –
1. Try the local food.
2. Meet and stay with a local.
3. Purchase a souvenir.
What was your recent journey to Rajasthan like?
Rajasthan was adventurous, colorful, rich in history and culture and not to mention, freezing cold !! Lot of memories and experiences to cherish. More on this, read here.
Does your bike have a name?
For every trip, we hire bikes. So we name them. This time my bike was called ‘Sparky’ as it used to throw sparks from the exhaust occasionally and Sarthak’s bike was called ‘Crazy Oldie’ because it was an almost vintage 1994 model Royal Enfield Bullet.
What is your dream trip?
As of now, we really don’t have a dream trip. All we know is that, there’s no stopping us. We wish to explore India at the grass root level first before going international. A dream trip for us would be to take a Norton 500 bike from Buenos Aires and redo the entire route that Ernesto Che Guevara did before starting the Cuban Revolution under Fidel Castro.
What are the things you will give up for travel?
There is hardly anything we can give up for travel. Till date, we have been getting ample time to plan our travel and execute them. But may be in the future, we might be hung up with office or family commitments. That doesn’t mean we won’t travel. Hell yeah we will !!
So, from exploring the alleyways in Rajasthan to off-roading in the Himalayas, these brothers are experiencing India unlike anyone else I know. I’m just hoping I’ll get the courage to put on a helmet and head out, assuming they would be glad to drag me along 🙂 Atleast, I have figured out which door to knock when it comes to a long bike ride.