Columbus is considered as one of the greatest explorers that we have ever seen till date. An avid traveller of his times, this man didn't know where he was going when he was establishing the new trade routes, colonies, and what not. When I say, I had a word with a Guinness World Record holder, Gaurav Siddharth, I want to put it out there that I believe I have found the Indian Columbus right among us.
When I say Gaurav was preparing to create a world record, you all must be wondering that he planned and learned a lot, he had strategies at his disposal, but none of it is actually true. Because this 25 YO just went with the flow, he had vision and passion for doing something and everything was just a by-product of staying focused and working towards his goal. His inspiring story proves the fact that sometimes, it is okay not to have a plan.
On being asked about his career aspirations and plans, this traveller responded with such zeal that it made me rethink about life and my plans.
"I left medical and pursued Psychology Honours. The reason was that I wanted to read myself before I decided ever to read someone else. If you study medical, you are only able to treat a person when he is not keeping well with her/his health, but if you pursue psychology, you are given the power to read someone's mind and that too at any given point in time. This attracted me towards it."
As I heard Gaurav's response, it instilled deep respect in my heart for him. He is surely a man who wishes to make his presence felt wherever he goes and with whatever he does.
It was Valentine's day, and he had no plans, he looked at his cycle and thought to himself that this would be my Valentine and I am gonna explore the entire country with it. "I took a bicycle to Kashmir, I had no plans, I didn't know what I am doing, but I just had to explore." He further said that...
"One day I traveled 40 kms, the other day I traveled 50 kms, some day 100. It just went on, and after 49 days, I finally reached my destination. I was at a dhaba where I had a conversation with a truck driver who mentioned to me that I had not done anything extraordinary and that is when I decided that I have to do something that no one has ever done. I didn't want to be an ordinary visitor, I wanted to explore places and show people that I have actually done it."
"It was completely on a solo trip, I had no past experience of solo biking for such a long distance before, especially on a motorbike. I used to work as a UI designer, I left my job and sold my stuff to pool some for my trip. Biking was comparatively easier than cycling so, I was prepared for the worse, and that's how my journey began."
Gaurav used all Indian products and went ahead to cover a journey of 1,20,000 kms within the country, with a message of 'Swadeshi' (Made in India).
Gaurav rode an India-made bike-Hero Impulse (UP32 GM 3367 – named Bawri 2.0) with all accessories, riding gear, GPS, camera, navigation apps, helmet, etc.
"Many dignitaries met me and extended guidance and all possible help. To name a few: Anna Hazare in Ralegan Sidhdhi (Maharashtra), Sri Sri Ravishankar in Bengaluru (Karnataka), Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev in Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu), Mata Amritanandamayi in Kollam (Kerala), PT Usha in Kozhikode (Kerala), Kiran Bedi in Gurgaon (Haryana), Sourav Ganguly in Kolkata (West Bengal), Anandiben Patel in Gandhinagar (Gujarat), Shivraj Singh Chauhan in Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Raghuram Rajan in Mumbai (Maharashtra) and others," Gaurav said.
Gaurav mentioned that various parameters and norms were there which served as the most challenging things, but he was ready to accept everything that came his way. Some of the most challenging things were:
1. He had to make it a point that never stay in one place (district) for more than 48 hours. He had to switch places.
2. He had to use the same vehicle for his entire journey and not change it come what may.
3. He had to make it a point that his routes don't include the same ways and places, every time the route had to be different even if it required taking the longer routes.
"Routes are very technical, and they were a serious issue for me," said Gaurav.
A journey of one year and eight months required nine months when it comes to evaluation.
Gaurav shared various things that he had to keep track of on a daily basis. Some of it includes:
GPS track, video evidence, photo evidence near any milestone, fuel receipts, grocery receipts, ATM withdrawal receipts, Hero (his bike) service centre receipts, witness statements with odometer readings, log books per hour, media coverage.
"Inspiration can be taken from anyone, and I had many people to support and inspire me in my journey. From kids who were in fifth grade to 70 YO people, I met everyone and made so many new friends," he said.
Gaurav also shared many anecdotes and incidents of desi jugaads which made me feel connected to his journey and his achievements.
"If you wish to have the same record as mine, you can simply apply for the record at the official website, fill the mandatory details in the performa and mention how much distance you are going to travel. On getting the approval, you will be given a set of guidelines and after that, you can go ahead with the real action. In the end, you are required to submit all the records," he said.
"Two most important tips for all bikers and riders: speed under control and don't consider helmet a usual thing. Please wear a helmet as it is very important," Gaurav gave some safety tips.
Image credits: Gaurav Siddharth
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That's all, people.