Featured Author Interview – Meet Dreamy and Aspiring Vasanth

Before an important editorial piece of publication, it is usually hard to chase the Editor, this is what I learnt over last few months as Vibha, would compose the ‘Interviews’, diligently and methodically. This time, as part of our exchange roster, I was to interview the ‘Featured Author of June 2014’ which I picked up very happily. I have always enjoyed talking to Ghumakkar authors, the experience is extremely rewarding and after the conversation, you always learn more about a few new places. But it also involves a lot of leg work and a lot of writing. So after reading Vasanth’s bio who is our featured author, my chase began. After all Vasanth is an accomplished Royal Enfield rider, a young father and a busy executive. From my end, I tried to look busy just to make the interaction more balanced and we missed a couple of dates initially. Finally, it was to be a Friday evening for the chat and I can only say that we overly compensated for the lost time. Amid patchy network connections, the journey continued without much hassle. Vasanth came out as a cool customer, effortlessly taking me through his life, on how ‘Motorcycle Diaries’ had a life long impact on him, how he met Sumathy on a ride and what he plans to do when he would hang his boots and live a quite life in a tiny Himalayan hamlet. Without further ado, presenting the dreamy and aspiring Vasanth in a candid conversation with Ghumakkar.

Ghumakkar: Good evening Vasanth, this is Nandan from Ghumakkar.
Vas: A very Good evening Nandan. So finally, we are able to connect.

Khalia Top-Munsiyari

Khalia Top-Munsiyari

Ghum: Yeah, I guess it was destined to be on a Friday evening, kind of starting the weekend with a travel engagement.
Vas: HeHe. Yeah, very well said.

Ghum: So, Congratulations Vasanth for being our ‘Featured Author’ for June, 2014.
Vas: Thank you, thank you. I am loving all the spot light and have been thinking about the interview for last few days.

Ghum: So then you are all prepared.
Vas: Yeah, sort of. Let it roll.

Ghum: We always begin our interview with this, now highly cliched, question. How did you reach Ghumakkar ?
Vas: Via Google Search. I was planning a trip and was searching for destinations and hit across Ghumakkar.

Ghum: Would you remember, what were you looking for ?
Vas: Hmm, no. I do not remember that but I very well remember the trigger. In 2010, I revived a biking group in my office. The group consisted of likeminded people who preferred to explore the world on two wheels. As I had to organise a ride, I was scouting for suitable locations and that’s when one of my searches lead me to Ghumakkar.com.

Ghum: And then what?
Vas: As soon as I entered the site, I was completely hooked onto it. Back in 2010, I wont be wrong in saying that there weren’t many sites that had so much of general information shared by regular travellers. The plethora of information that was available proved extremely useful for me. And it was all real, by real people. And that struck me.

Ghum: Good. And soon after you wrote your first story. But we would come to that later. I was reading your Bio and it says that you have been in Delhi for many years ? Where were you before that ?
Vas: Yeah, you are right. Actually I am originally from Chennai.

Ghum: Yes, I never mentioned but I could guess from your name, especially Vasanth with the ‘h’. Usually in northern India, we would spell your name as ‘Vasant’, if not ‘Basant’. Haha
Vas: Yes Nandhan. That is correct.

Ghum: Sorry to interrupt you, you were telling us about Chennai. I have been there twice and loved it.
Vas: Thanks. I take that as a compliment.

Ghum: Please tell us about your childhood days.
Vas: I was born in Chennai and spent my early childhood there. I believe, the place of my birth had a strong reason behind my innate proclivity to the royal enfield.

Ghum: We would come to bike later, and also about your writing, but please finish what you wanted to say about RE ?
Vas: Haha. Yeah, I am probably dragging you away, so as to talk about my rides, my bike and so on. Lets wait for that talk. I was saying that during my childhood days, I would see burly men belonging to the “nadaar” community proudly going around in their royal steeds. The thump remained in my head since then and a couple of decades later, when the opportunity came I picked up my very own ride and named it “The Messiah”.

Ghum: Wow, that’s quite a name ? Why ‘Messiah’ ?
Vas: Every royal enfield bullet has a name given to it by the rider. I think it is customary that one’s bullet is named since its gives the machine an identity. When I got mine, I could not think of anything less than a name that exemplifies the almighty. For me, my bullet is God personified since while I am with it, I feel safe and that there is no place where you can’t go when you are on one. Isn’t that the same feeling that one has for god?

Ghum: That is quite a philosophical take. Going back to child hood, how long you were there in Chennai ?
Vas: Well, my father was posted in Chennai. I didn’t spent too much time and was there till I was about 8 years.

Ghum: and after that.
Vas: We moved to Jaipur, the pink city. I was there till I was 13. Did my senior schooling there.

Ghum: Any early memories ?
Vas: I dont remember much from my Chennai days, probably because I was quite young. But memories of jaipur still remains fresh in my mind. For some reason, Rajasthan is quite close to my heart. I really like the warmth and hospitality of the people and the myriad forts hiding historical secrets behind their indomitable walls.

Ghum: Were you able to visit your old neighbourhood or school in your later years ?
Vas: It was not a coincidence that my in-laws had a prolonged connection with Rajasthan and despite being south Indians they are more of Rajasthanis due to their 30-odd years that they had spent in various places in Rajasthan. In fact, my marriage happened in the royal city of Chittorgarh. Given a chance, I would love to settle down in one of these historical places.

I recall, once my wife and I rode to jaipur for a short weekend trip and I was going back to jaipur after almost 10 years but I could exactly remember the way to my school and the house where we lived. I was quite surprised to know how much I remembered of this place..!!

Bikaner-Chotu Motu Joshi

Bikaner-Chotu Motu Joshi

Ghum: And then the national capital region, correct ?.
Vas: Yes, it was I think 1992 when we moved to Delhi, and since then its been Delhi. I finished my schooling from here and did my college. Nothing notable to mention other than the fact that I am English graduate and topped south campus during my first year. I finished college in 2001 and after a year I got a job when I was 22.

Ghum: Wow. Topping in ‘South Campus’ and then picking up a bullet. So who all are there in the family ?
Vas: So in Delhi, it is my father, mother, and three of us. My brother and sis-in-law live in Pune.

Ghum: How old is your kid ?
Vas: 4 years. My son is now four and he keeps me up all the time. Haha



With wife and son

With wife and son

Ghum: So lets talk about the ‘Ride’. Since when, the Messiah is with you ?
Vas: 2002. But I could do my first serious long ride only in 2003.

Ghum: And that was to where ?
Vas: Kasauli.

Ghum: Please tell us about your first ride ?
Vas: It was almost 10 years ago. When I look back on that ride, I do nothing but laugh at the way I went about it. The ride happened in the month of May-peak summers, can you imagine. I mean now, after so many of years of riding experience I would not even think of riding to my office during the month of May. And here I was riding all the way till Kasauli during this peak summer month. But those were the days of inexperience but also of learning.

Ghum: And I remember that the ride was turned out to be a super special ride for you ?
Vas: It is very hard to escape from you. Haha. Yes, you are 100% right. That was also my first ride with my then girlfriend, Sumathy, now wife and I still wonder how did she agree to come along with me on such madcap adventure. When I ask her, she coyly admits that she actually fell for this madness of mine ☺ And since then there has been no looking back.

Ghum: So in last 10 years, how many miles Messiah and you have clocked.
Vas: In the last 10 years, the messiah and I have covered almost 90,000 kms across myriad locations.

Ghum: Wow. That is just shy of 100K.
Vas: God willing, 100K would happen soon enough, but my frequency of rides have greatly decreased.

Ghum: Were you a born rider ?
Vas: Oh, no. not at all. I started as a novice but I stuck at it, practiced it and kept honing it. You wont believe what stupid mistakes we would do in our initial rides.

Ghum: No, I will. Please share one such ride ?
Vas: During my early days of riding due to lack of experience there were many instances of bad planning. I remember this one incident when my friend and I had set off on a ride to Gangotri. The uninitiated that I was had decided to start the ride in the evening from Gurgaon thinking that we would reach Hardwar by night..!! I mean, that would have been possible only if we were riding in a UP roadways bus.

Oh yes! Those were the days when Uttaranchal did not exist so you can imagine the road conditions. Anyways, we started at 4pm and by the time it was 7pm, we had barely crossed Delhi. At around 9pm, we took a stop at Modinagar to have the famous jain shikhanji. That’s when the shopkeeper asked me where we were heading. When we told him that we were heading to Haridwar, he gave us a bewildered look and warned us about the perils of crossing notorious places like Muzzaffarnagar, Khatauli in the night. He also gave us an idea to keep trailing a roadways bus to remain safe. As soon as we heard it, we completely dropped the idea of resuming our journey and ended up staying the night at Meerut. Now, after so many years, I would never plan a ride like this..!!

Ghum: I think you missed the real fun by not driving through MZN in the dead of night. Those days I remember, we were often told to go in a group of cars.
Vas: But we recovered well. Over years, I rode more and gradually and steadily, it began to sink in.

Ghum: Any specific ride or point in life, where you felt like that riding is indeed your destiny.
Vas : I am still discovering but since you ask, I would think that it was the solo ride I did in 2007. To Leh. And this ride almost never happened. I remember how, we were 4 friends, planned for this ride and one by one the remaining 3 started backing out. My leaves were booked and i had done all the preprations for the ride and finally everyone else turned around to other priorities and I was left alone. I almost gave up when my wife, Sumathy urged me to go on.

magnetic hill-ladakh

magnetic hill-ladakh

Ghum: I am now beginning to think that probably we should have awarded ‘Featured Author’ to her. This doesn’t sound correct. Did it really happen ?
Vas: Yes Sir. She said, you have been planning this for way too long to give up now. Just be careful and ride on. With the confident wind behind me I started. I remember that I was scared for the first few days.

I remember how I got stuck in Sonamarg due to rains and thought I would never make it. I was scared to cross Zoji La pass on my own. But I guess when you are destined to go to Leh, things work out.

Ghum: Please carry on. Tell us more.
Vas: I met this foreigner in Sonamarg and he offered to ride along with me. I also recall how I reached Kargil and was very scared to move further. From Kargil, Leh was only 250 kms. I called up my wife and told her that I am turning back. And she was like, “Are you mad? You have come this far and now you want to turn back? You better not do that. You have come this far, now you better reach Leh”. Another confidence booster and next day I was in Leh.

It took me 5 days to reach Leh via the Srinagar route.

Ghum: Bravo to your undying spirits and a big salute to Sumathy. Please pass on my wishes.
Vas: Thanks Nandan. So many times I ponder over how, without moving an inch, my wife was all along with me when I was riding to Leh and that’s why I usually dont consider that as a “solo” ride since there were two people always with me-messiah and my wife!!

Ghum: You know how to close the story.
Vas: Haha.

Ghum: True. Never been to Leh but have read so much about Leh and the drive that I can vouch for it.
Vas: But you have done Spiti and the respected Kaza-Manali. We did Spiti in 2009 and it was like completing the circle of learning.

Spiti Ride

Spiti Ride

Spiti Ride

Spiti Ride

Ghum: What was your most recent long ride ?
Vas: Munsiyari. Just a couple of months back. It is almost like being on top of Kumaon. Riding is now part of my life.

en route to munsiyari

en route to munsiyari

Ghum: Very well put Vas and that helps me to move this conversation abour your writings at Ghumakkar.
Vas: Yeah Sure.



Ghum: So you reached Ghumakkar, looking for information to plan the tour for your office colleagues. What made you write at Ghumakkar ?
Vas: I tremendously liked what I read and while I was scavenging for the information that I was looking for, it struck me that for whatever information that I am taking, I should leave something behind, for the benefit of fellow travellers like me. And that’s when I began writing my riding experiences at Ghumakkar.

Ghum: That is a great thought. Have you been writing before ?
Vas: Yes, in a way but mostly short logs. Ghumakkar was my first full fledged long ride, as we say it. Haha.

Ghum: In your first log title “Live your Dreams”,you talk about ‘Che Guevara’. You begin your log by quoting him , “What do we leave behind when we cross each frontier? Each moment seems split in two; melancholy for what was left behind and the excitement of entering a new land”. Whats about Che ?
Vas: My guess is that you are aware of Che.

Ghum: Yes, that is correct. Long ago, I did read the iconic book ‘The motorcycle diaries’.
Vas: Nice. So now it is easy. You probably already know that there is a movie by the same name. I have seen that movie, I do not know how many times. And this quote is from that movie.

I mostly follow the part where Che and his friend are riding, going to new places, you know going through the adventure and being part of unique and novel experience. The title just gives words to this feeling, “Live your dreams”.

Ghum: I think a rider and a Eng literature grad, so it makes sense. Moving to your family, you met Sumathy in 2003. When the two of you get married ?
Vas: Oh, pretty soon after. In 2004. Actually my wife and I are in same organisation. We take the same cab to commute to office and that gives us more time to be together.

Ghum: And did the riding scene changed, post marriage ?
Vas: Fortunately, No. Sumathy is an adventure person, and she also rides bullet, at time when we are riding together. Even otherwise, she extends complete support otherwise it is impossible to continue riding

Ghum: Then do you compensate for the lost family travel ?
Vas: Initially, the rule of thumb was to have one ride followed by one family ride. This worked till my son was born.

Ghum: Yeah, true.
Vas : Now, usually I plan and do not more than 4 rides every year. I went to Munsyari for a long ride a couple of months back, now next week we are all headed for Bangalore for a family vacation.

Jakhoo Hanuman-Shimla

Jakhoo Hanuman-Shimla

Jaipur-Holi Trip

Jaipur-Holi Trip

Bikaner-starting for Jaisalmer

Bikaner-starting for Jaisalmer

Ghum: You are able to balance it so well.
Vas: Well, Nandan. I look around and I see people like you, trying to do a balance between work, travel, pursuing interests, family and that keeps me going.

Ghum: Haha. I think each one of us is trying to do the best they can do. Taking a day at a time and being honest to all the commitments. And then you start again the next day. HaHa. I think that is the whole fun of it else it would be hard to remain motivated.
Vas: And you articulated it so well.

Ghum: I also learnt that you have an avid interest in ‘Photography’. Tell us more about it.
Vas: Photography just happened, actually. It was not like I was interested in it right from the beginning. I always say this-“travelling and photography are like twin sisters and I have courted both of them and lived to tell the tale”.

Ghum : Yes, that is so true. But you do spend time and effort toward this interest of yours, correct ?
Vas: For me it was riding first and photography was a means to capture the fleeting moments. But over a period of time I got a bit serious around it.

Ghum: Any particular event ?
Vas: Yes. Tell me, do you guys really do so much preparation because I have a feeling that you know one of the big events around photography.

Ghum: No, no big preparation but yes some reading.
Vas: So my turning point was when one of my photos got published in the lonely planet magazine and thats when I realized that I probably have an eye to capture good frames.

My wife spotted this in me and gifted me a DSLR and so it began. I enrolled myself into a certificate course with Sri Aurbindo centre of arts and communication and learned the art of photography under two eminent photographers-Idris Ahmed & Prashant Vishwanathan. over the years, i have had 4 photos published in the LP magazine.

Ghum: And it took me so many questions to get this out of you. Hehe. So where does it all lead to ? Whats the big idea at a meta level ?
Vas: The big idea is to quit the regular corporate job, set up a shack/motel/guest house in the mountains and lead a hermit’s life. Play host to fellow travellers and earn a modest living. Do better in photography, teach my son the importance of travelling and set him on the path of adventure and discovery.

Ghum: Insha Allah. I usually conclude the interview but lets change the rules. Parting words, Vas.
Vas: On two legs, I am just an ordinary guy in an ordinary world. But on two wheels, I am an explorer, wanderer, adventurer, traveller, a nomad, etc. And the world is exciting, thrilling, adventurous, beautiful, inspiring etc. Water streams on the road are no longer meant to wet my feet but to push my adrenalin to new levels. Rain does not make me run for cover instead welcomes me with open arms. Sun doesn’t extract sun blocks but provides a hard earned tan. Distances are no longer measured in kilometres but in experiences. Spare the two legs, spoil the two wheels. You will see a different world. The world will see a different you.

Ghum: Thank you. Wishes and Lucks.


  • AJAY SHARMA says:

    Many congratulations VAS. It was so inspiring & motivating that I annoyed my wife, while reading the interview by escaping the meal. Actually I couldn’t resist from reading in in one go. Nicely said, travel and photography are TWINS.
    I rode many parts but on my Rx 100, almost 1.5 lac km in 10 years. No more riding since past 10 years but now planing for a 4000 odd km journey on the East-West Hwy in Nepal, upto Darjeeling. Your logs will certainly be of great help.
    I guess & agree with Nandan, Sumathy deserves a salutation, without whose motivation you might not be this able.

    @Nandan, Thanks for such an useful information about so fanatic ghumakkar.

    Keep riding

    • Vas says:

      Dear Ajay, thank you so much for your kind words. Happy to know that you are embarking on what seems to be like a tough journey..would love to do something like that some day :-) wish you the best and I can tell you that you are at the right place if you are looking for useful information.

  • Vibha says:

    Beautiful! Thanks a lot Vas. It is very inspiring to read about you and your passion for biking and photography. Please also convey my regards to Sumathy, a perfect companion to a free spirit like yourself! Respect! Oh! and also lovely parting words. Nandan is right. You do know how to conclude a story.

    Nandan, excellent interview! Loved every bit of it. Thanks so much for bringing this to us.

    • Vas says:

      Vibha thanks..not just for the opportunity but for displaying a virtue that is fast becoming extinct these days-patience :-) especially with the captions for the Kibber story.

      Loved the convo with Nandan..happy to be here;-)

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Thank you Ajay and Vibha. All encouragement is good. :-)

  • @Vas Many congratulations for being the Featured Author for June, 2014. I will now give my all praise to your wife Sumathy for supporting you to live on your dreams. It was indeed very interesting to know about you in detail. I hope you will write more in Ghumakkar and we will read more of you. Your travel stories will, please let them come in, certainly help the fellow Ghumakkars. I wish you all the best in life and may your dreams come true.

    @Nandan- Thank you for the interview. It was an excellent interview indeed.

    • Vas says:

      thank you anupam :-) as i say-“behind every successful man, there is a woman” and behind every travelling man, there is a wife who approves it ;-)

  • Anil Sharma says:

    Dear Vasanth,

    Really inspiring interview. The logs on ghumakkar.com are really very helpful for any one planning a trip to remote places. Keep travelling and keep writing.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    @ Anupam – Thank you.

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Vasanth – It was nice getting to know you and especially liked your passion towards life and Ghumakkari.

    And loved what you have to say in the last para.

    Here looking forward to more bike trips to the mountains and elsewhere.

    Thanks Nandan for a great interview as always.

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