A few months back, on May 13, 2011, I celebrated the sixth anniversary of a day that had most significant impact on my life; I can easily say that it was a day that literally changed the direction of my life. Six years ago, May 13, 2005, I, along with 4 other riders, went on a 1000 km long bike ride to Uttaranchal. We called ourselves, “Uttaranchal Explorers.” It was just a 3-day ride, but little did I know that day that it is going to change the way I see myself and the world.
You may wonder why I am trying to glorify that weekend ride? Well to know that, I’ll have to take you a little back in time, in a period when I was not a ‘biker’ or let’s say that I didn’t know that there was a motorcyclist hiding inside me.
So enter the flashback: Some 2 years before the aforementioned day, I was a small town, happy-go-lucky kind of guy who was happy making money working in a BPO and was steady on a track to change the career and become a VFX/3D (visual effects) artist. I had a small circle of friends. I hardly had any hobbies, except occasional movies on weekends and hanging out with friends. I was happy and content with that when ‘tragedy’ struck. Suddenly my personal, professional, and social life was in turmoil. There were repercussions of problems in one aspect of life onto the other. And before I could realize, I went into deep depression. I had forgotten the last day when I laughed or slept properly. I had brought myself to a point where I was about to be kicked out of a company I gave my blood and sweat to. I was absent from work for many days without informing anybody. I would get up in the morning and get ready to go the office, but would veer off midway and wander on the streets. I had stopped taking my animation classes even after paying a hefty sum for fee. I wouldn’t eat properly for days and had lost a considerable amount of weight. I was afraid to be alone as whenever I was alone, I had the most disturbing thoughts. Every day I would wake up with a single-point agenda to somehow see that day off, as only the fall of night would give me some relief when I would get some sleep; and the same cycle would begin all over again the next day. I had become a classic case of anhedonia. There was a constant feeling of guilt. Life seemed worthless and my self-esteem and confidence had reached down to a level where I couldn’t see my future. Luckily, there were some friends who stood by me through all this and gave me strength to move on.
Time passed by and I was struggling hard to come out of it as I knew that I wouldn’t survive if I lived like that, but I couldn’t see any way out. It was then that a former colleague of mine showed me some pictures of a bike trip he had recently done from Delhi to Uttaranchal. I was amazed to see those pictures as I didn’t know anyone previously who had done long trips on bikes. I asked him if he could take me as a pillion when he goes for his next ride. He refused, saying that it would be too uncomfortable for both of us. Also he asked me to do the trip on my own bike rather than as a pillion with somebody else. And that was it. I had sort of found a goal in my life. I wanted to go on a long ride on my own bike. Now all that negative energy had converted into a positive one and egged me to somehow do it. And they say that luck favors the brave, that’s when I stumbled upon a thread on xBhp where some guys were planning a ride to Uttaranchal and luckily enough there was one guy from my hometown, Ghaziabad. So I had company. I knew I wouldn’t be like Alice in Wonderland with all those new guys. I couldn’t ask for more. I called up that guy and fixed up a pre-ride meet in the lawns on Rajpath in front of India Gate. Finally, on the D-day, we were 5 guys who went on that trip.
It was a short-lived trip but left an ever-lasting impact on my life. Those 3 days in the company of some new-found friends in the lap of the Himalayas, away from the chaotic life back home, rejuvenated me to the core. I fell in love with my motorcycle, my Pulsar DTSi-150. I was feeling ecstatic. I was happy once again. I had tasted blood by now and I didn’t want to let go that feeling of ecstasy. I wanted more. So, in less than a month, I was on road again, this time to Himachal on a longer ride with the same group and then within 2-3 months, a 15-day ride to the “Mecca of Motorcycling” – a Ladakh Ride.
All the pain seemed to have gone away. My self-confidence was back. I was no longer a good-for-nothing guy. I had become a sort of a hero in my locality as no one there had dared to go this far on a motorcycle. Now, I was a regular in all the xBhp meets. I had lots of new friends who shared the same passion about motorcycling. We could spend the whole day sitting at the dhaba or riding the bike to a destination unknown. There were no negative thoughts. All I would talk or dream of was motorcycles. I was ‘cured’ to say the least.
When I look back now, I wonder what if I didn’t have my bike with me at that time? Was it possible for me to come out of that hell? Maybe no, as had I exhausted all my efforts to get on with the life, but nothing helped, except the motorcycle and motorcycling. Now when I meet someone who is going through a similar negative phase in his life, I suggest only one thing that this is not the end. The world is more beautiful than you think. Whenever you have doubts on your own abilities, just kick start your bike, go on a ride, and find out that lost happiness; it is there only, hiding somewhere on the highway. Chase it down!
And before I sign off, let me tell you that all my team members who were part of my first long ride are still there with me. The friendship has stood the test of time and has gotten even stronger. Thank you guys, I owe this to you!