While most of us struggle to fit a weekend travel plan into our busy lives, a 39-year-old Chennai motorist has just set off on an ambitious bike journey covering all seven continents.
Kedarnath GM, an engineer who calls himself a 'No country man', embarked on his journey from the Royal Enfield showroom in Adyar on Tuesday. Over the next four years, Kedarnath will be visiting 113 countries around the world.
"It began as a journey of discovering the unknown, but now I do it to spread the larger message of a 'borderless world'. We create borders in our mind and that is the reason for the current chaos and unwillingness to accept new things. I want to, by narrating my experience, shatter these illusions," Kedarnath tells TNM just before he departs.
But how does one plan for such a long journey around the world? For starters, Kedarnath quit his job at JSW Steels this year, so that he could receive his Provident Fund and Gratuity which will cover 30% of his expenses on the road.
As for the rest, he shrugs: "I will have to make money as I travel and figure out what to do."
But, adds Kedarnath, journeys through unfamiliar territory are not new to him.
In 2012, at the age of just 29, Kedarnath rode from Vijayanagar to Khardunga La. He followed that up with a 2014 expedition across 13 countries in Europe, covering 18,000km in all.
"So, this is not a journey that was planned all of a sudden. I have slowly been putting pieces together and had to quit my job of 11 years to get the money for this trip. But the experiences that I have seen so far have already made me confident that it will be successful,” says the motorist.
“My journey will also prove how much kindness exists across the world," he adds, explaining that for many things along his around-the-world tour, he will end up relying on help from strangers.
When asked what makes him so confident of receiving such help, he brings up the experience from a recent trip, where an elderly couple in Prague took him for a night. "I was just asking them for some guidance on where to pitch my tent and they let me to stay in their home instead. I was a complete stranger and yet they lent me a helping hand," he says.
The biker however does admit that weather and food are two major challenges that one has to overcome on such trips. "It is freezing sometimes and in other cases the food available is just not something your palate can get used to. These are definitely problems but not ones that can stop your journey," says Kedarnath.
"What solo travelers must remember, however, is to remain human throughout the trip. Don't go with pre-conceived notions or hatred towards any community. Go with an open mind and you will surprised to see how the world embraces you," he adds.
But there’s still one major question that remains – How do you pack for a four-year journey around the world?
Kedarnath laughs before pointing to his single fluorescent orange bag. "Just 4 pairs of jeans, a couple of t-shirts and basic tools for the bike," he reveals. "Once I start, it is just my Thunderbird (bike) and me, off on a spectacular journey. Other material things don't really matter," he adds.