Live your dreams

“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”-Che Guevara,

Sometimes, in our lives, we all come to a juncture where we ask ourselves “What is my raison deitre or reason of existence?” Is it our job, family, friends or the pursuit of our dreams and aspirations? While most of us spend a lifetime soul searching for answer to this rather moot question, I was privileged to have not only found an answer at an early stage but also get an opportunity to live it. For me, the answer was the pursuit of my dreams and aspirations. And while these dreams and aspirations may not be one but myriad yet when pursued individually, the experience makes you feel worth being on this planet and living this life.



One such dream that I wanted to pursue was a solo ride to the top of the world – Leh. Many have tread this road before and have shared their ecstasy of scaling the highest motorable pass in the world. So there was obviously no “firsts” in this. Yet, the sense of achievement is undying and will last in my heart, mind and soul forever. This article is not going to encapsulate the places that I passed through or the route that I had taken. I think the navigator link in the Royal Enfield website does a better job of being an advisor. I just want to share what is it about “living your dream.”

This dream of mine started the day I laid hands on my own bull back in 2004. I planned this ride for the last two years and my last two attempts did not take off. So this time, despite the fact that my other riding partners backed off at the 11th hour, I decided to move on. This required a lot of convincing to be done since my family would never allow me on a solo ride to Leh. And now, when I think about the challenges that I had to face to materialize this ride, I feel that a ride to Leh is a pilgrimage, much like a Vaisho Devi for Hindus, the revered Hajj for the Muslims, Hemkunt Sahib for our Sikh brethrens and Vailankani for Christians. As the old adage goes, “you don’t decide when you take the pilgrimage, the god does.” I think a ride to Leh is not decided by us but by the place itself. And all those who own a Bullet know that at least once in their lifetime they must ride to Leh, just like any normal human being would want to give their obeisance to their god of worship at least once in their lifetime.

On the road to Leh, I felt that this ride is also a test of human spirit. How far would you go to achieve your dreams and aspirations? How far would you stretch to be where you always wanted to be? Would you keep riding or turn back? And, in the time of need and support, who are your best friends? The reason I feel this is because there were numerous instances wherein I felt this was not worth it. There were times when I just wanted to turn back due to not enough strength, both mental as well as physical, to carry on. But then I had three people who never gave up on me. They were god, my wife and my Bullet. The trials, tribulations, anxieties were aplenty during the ride.
The whole attitude had changed. I felt that each passing town and kilometer was taking me away from home rather than taking me nearer to my dream. And when you are riding solo, you are bound to go through these depressions since there is no one to lean on for support. Add to this, the challenging terrain of Leh and you are bound to push yourselves beyond the realms of human comprehension. After all these challenges and tests of human spirit, when I finally made it Leh and then to K-top, I just wanted to freeze the moment. I wanted to make sure that I capture this moment since it took me time to believe that this is no longer a dream but a reality. Three years ago, I started dreaming about this place. I fantasized riding my Bullet through these serpentine roads and imagined myself being pictured here. Two years ago, the dream started to take shape and I planned my first ride to Leh on paper, it didn’t work out. Eight months ago, I again planned the pursuit of my “happyness” and right when it seemed that it would have to be shelved again, the plan just ricocheted back into consummation. So here I was living my dream and my proudest moment. A sense of unparalleled achievement followed this final pursuit. As I stood there at the top of the world, gulping a hot bowl of maggi, I realized that I, by the grace of god, have achieved something that a lot of people can only imagine. Yes, there was ego associated with this and I shall not shy away from admitting it. But I guess those are the parcels that you cannot avoid when you embark on a journey to fulfill your “raison deitre”.

Finally, as I always believe, a motorcycle ride always teaches you invaluable lessons of life. My previous rides taught me the significance and the spirit of teamwork. ride taught me to never give up while pursuing your goal. Unfortunately, this ride is definitely not bespokhmelnykh or “hangover proof.” So as I traveled back to reality, what remained as a lasting impression in my mind is that when you are all by yourself, you have got to fight your own battle and do everything that is possible to win it. And all the pains and troubles that you encounter in the pursuit of your dreams will fade into obscurity in front of the sheer ecstasy that you experience once the dream turns into reality.

And now an “ode to the legend”. No array of adjectives could describe the strength and spirit displayed by this machine. 3100 Km of sheer pleasure. No ripped cables, no flat tires, no broken parts. While I, a human being, had damages, the mean machine did not spill a drop of fatigue or pessimism. It was as if, he knew that he had to move on just to ensure that I don’t loose my confidence. I felt as if, the bull was telling me – “don’t worry, you are not alone in this. I am with you.” The moment I reached my home, I dismounted from the bull and gave him the customary hug. A gesture of respect and gratitude to this machine who was more than just a bike during the ride. Truly, a man made gift of god.

Ride details:
Time period: August 11-22, 2007
Total Distance approx.: 3200 Kms
Route Taken onwards:
Delhi-Ambala-Ludhiana-Jalandhar-Pathankot-Jammu-Banihal-Sonamarg-Zoji
La-Drass-Kargil-Namika La-Fotu La-Lamayuru-Khaltse-leh-Khardung La-Leh
Route taken return: same as above, only the halting places changed.

Courtesies:
Helmet: Faizi Rizvi, a teammate and a rider himself.
Extra pair of shoes: Michael Richards, a teammate.
Route planning & guidance: My cousin, Lt. Col. G. Kumar posted at BariBrahmna Cantonment, Jammu.

9 Comments

  • Roopesh says:

    Congrats Vasanth on conquering the Khardung La. It’s a special feeling, a sense of contentment, of being there and done that however cliched it may sound. Did you think of trying Leh-Manali route for any of the legs?

    • Vasanth says:

      Yes, i and my friends had the plan to ride to ladakh via manali this year but due to the flash floods, the plan is currently on hold.

  • Arun says:

    Congratulations Vasanth. I can see your excitement through those words. It made a great reading.

  • wowwwwwwww….. best Pics I ever seen from this area…. Great….Thanks.

  • nandanjha says:

    Welcome aboard Vasanth.

    It probably is a co-incidence that I am trying to read ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ these days and have consciously decided to watch the movie only when I am done with the book. With my pace, that is not going to happen any time soon.

    I have not been to Leh though the desire, of the dream, has been around for few years. I guess I would take solace in the line where you say that ”….you dont decide when you take the pilgrimage, the god does…..”

    Look fwd to read many more inspiring stories from you.

    • vasanth.gopalakrishnan says:

      well, “the motorcycle diaries” has been one of the movies that has inspired me to explore the world on 2 wheels. as far as your pending desire to travel to Leh…well, don’t wait..just make a plan and go…there is no better time to go than when you decide…and if you need any help, feel free to reach out…

  • sskagra says:

    Thanking you this site views so much good photograph,writting and exprience

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