India runs on Chai. Tea is a blessing from the Gods for one of the good things my forefathers did. That was the last good deed ever done.
On my journey’s i stop about 10 times a day for a cup of tea. Most times in small tea shops on the side of the highway. Since i am different from the people around someone usually start to talk to me. Each of these conversations involve one very important question and a follow up observation / question. Why a bicycle, why cant you travel by a bus, train or a plane. This eventually follows with “you must not be married or have kids”.
My standard response to this is been ” i am broke and wanted to travel slowly taking in the sights and sounds. No i am not married ( this response will change henceforth though).
Why do i ride. What happens to me when i ride. Why put myself through the pain riding thousands of kms to reach a place which i could have gotten in 180 min on a plane. Why sleep in a tent / school each night while i travel slowly across the country.
Let me break my life in 2 parts :
Part A (Home , Family , Paying Rent): I go to work about 5 days a week and usually have a couple of calls over the weekend. I barely get time to take a break and take time out for myself. In the last year i have not been alone and by myself. Usually the wife or the kids (Pip and Trouble) are always around. There is always something to clean, somewhere to go and someone to smack . Sometimes i like to sit down and do nothing and on most days that doesnt exist. My day is filled with waking up and taking the dogs for a walk , clean up the house a little, go to work , chill with the wife and then go to sleep.
Part B (Chatter in the head): The mind is never quiet. It always tries and contribute to any conversation that you have. The stupid thing doesnt leave you be even for 5 mins a day. All it requires me to do is to say good morning and it starts. Tough questions that it asks and gets you to start thinking are : What if you lose your job, how would you pay rent etc. Another fan favourite is : what if your dog runs out of the house and you cant find him. All of this happens in 30 seconds after i wake up. During the day multiple other things happen which shape my thoughts. Some days are better, the voice in my head is quiet. Some days he’s on overdrive, trying to always play options for anything that may happen. I form game plans for situations that havent happened and try and find solutions based on them. This chatter continues even when i zone out during a conversation, while eating beef curry and rice , cleaning the house and also when i sit on the pot. Nothing changes everyday. Each day goes by with its own set of situations. Each call that the boss makes to me is met with a reaction that is different almost each day.
Why i ride : On the highway with nobody i can talk too, no friends and family to fall back on does scare me but there is quiet time. I have heard lots of friends talking about how they cant go out on vacation by themselves as its hard to be alone. To me its the exact opposite. The only time the chatter in the head slows down and almost stops is when i am on the bike. My single most focus at that moment is the present and not the future or the past.
Someone once said ” yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery and all i have is today and that s why its called the present”. Its not a very wise quote or neither very helpful but it helps understand me better. While i try and live in the present when i am in town it is difficult, almost impossible. On the road its all about me, the instinct to survive , to thrive kicks in. I have no time to think about what happened last year or what will happen next year. If i put my head down and look up there usually is a cow in my path, tractor coming towards me etc. I am forced to live in the here and now. I dont ride to raise money for charity or to tell people i ride. I havent written a travel blog as i clearly suck at it. I ride because its almost like meditation. I love the fact that i can keep pedaling and not have to think about anything else. The present is comfortable, its now and doesn’t require i put in effort to be happy.
A cheeky reporter asked Mallory why he wanted to climb the Everest. Mallory replies ” Because its there ” . I guess the equivalent answer for me is not that is meditative, time alone, exploring new locations but for me its because i can.
I ride because i can.
As i finish writing this, i feel i should get back on the road. I know i will, really soon.