Dreams, they say, should be dreamt a size too big, so that one can grow into them. At a time when most are content dreaming about buying big cars and larger houses, there are people out there who set their sights on the world. Vizagite Bharadwaj Dayala is one such name. A love for travel, combined with stubborn optimism and a vision towards an around-the-world trip, helped churn the heady mix making him reach the place where no man has gone before. On an Indian Hero Honda Karizma bike, in a span of 18 months, with no sponsorship, he thus covered 47,000kms around the world on a trip that touched 5 continents and 14 countries. This exemplary Vizagite brings us his story.
We know about adventure travel, but you took it to a whole new level. What prompted you to do this?
I love travel, and after doing many trips across India, I decided that I wanted to travel around the world. It was just a big dream, that’s all. The rest of how I wanted to do it, shaped the adventure. I started on the trip in 2006 April and was back home in 2007 October.
What was the reaction at home when you told your folks about this?
My family members agreed, given their trust in me and the knowledge of how stubborn I can be. Moreover I told them this only when the paperwork was over. Most of my well-meaning friends pulled me back before I embarked on this, calling it foolhardy rather than daring. I also tried looking for sponsors, but then this was too daring an adventure and people backed out.
What made you choose biking over other modes of travel?
I do love biking, but at that time I did consider travelling by car too. Flying from one place to another was not an option as it did not hold any charm for me, as while flying you see only city A and city B, not the journey in between. The best way to see a place, any place, is by road. It’s when you go beyond the tourist attractions, that you see a place in its true form.
Today planning out one international trip means a lengthy process. How easy was it to prepare for around-the-world?
Dayala smiles adding that ‘It took me lesser time to cover a trip around the world than the paperwork. The entire preparation took approximately two years. I realized I couldn’t drive out of India, so I had to fly to Tehran. Also paperwork meant that I had to get all visas and permissions ready before embarking. Even my bike needed a passport kind-of document. I spoke to ambassadors across all the countries I was covering. And yes, other than the paperwork I had to add storage space to the bike. I also underwent strength training so I could cope with the pressure of world travel.
Tell us something about the trip?
The trip was flagged off on Vizag beach road with 50 bikes following me. It was only when I drove out of Vizag that the enormity of what I had embarked upon set in. In Hyderabad, YS Rajasekhar Reddy flagged off my ride. I drove to Mumbai, flew to Tehran, rode all over Iran, crossed to Turkey, Syria, Jordan, crossed the red sea, Africa and Egypt. I was meaning to go to Europe from there, but issues at Israel stopped me. So I had to come back to the same countries to enter Greece. I lost time for Europe, but did cover Italy, France and UK. From UK I went to Canada and travelled all over and then entered US through Winnipeg. There I covered east coast and west, shipped my bike to Australia, came to Indonesia, Bangladesh and back to India.
Wow! That must have been some experience. Was language or culture ever a barrier?
Never. Europeans don’t speak English like us, so it was mostly sign language. There were long rides stretching over hours, which made me a literal ‘goonga’ person. I tasted a wide variety of meats like crocodile, camel, snake etc. I met a cross section of people across races. The trip changed my perception about a lot of things as well. One of these was my fear of African-Americans. They have huge personalities and before I had gone, I had heard stories on why I should stay away from them. But then, two nights in Atlanta made me go to a pub which not only had them as customers, but also on staff. I had no option but to speak to them, and I’m glad I did. I met some wonderful people and I made many friends.
Was it all smooth-sailing or were there hurdles. What was the worst setback?
The worst setback happened in the first place that I landed. I was beaten, my things were stolen and my people asked me to turn back. This trip was going to be dangerous. But then I thought to myself, this was the worst, it couldn’t go any bad than this. And I carried on. I faced setbacks after that too. There was miles of lonely driving, spells of depression and despondence. But then as someone once said, ‘When the going is tough, then keep going’.
And the best experience?
Dayala smiles, ‘There were many. In Jordan, for example, only the crown prince rides a bike. I needed to take special permission to do so. And when I got that, I got it with a bang. An entire convoy accompanied me. That was something. Even after the trip, I received much love and attention and was invited by the Crown Prince of Dubai to the ‘2nd Travellers festival 2013’ in Dubai.
How has the trip influenced you at a deeper level?
This trip was an important lesson to me on trust. I was forced to turn to my basic survival instincts. Supposing I was on a 100 mile stretch while it was growing dark and there was just 1 small camp visible, I had to choose between camping in a lonely place or driving for miles without rest into unknown territory. And I learnt that I needed to trust people. We in the modern world begin to lose trust and build walls around us. On trips like these, we begin to open those walls. I realized that if I began to trust people, people trusted me back.
For a traveller, the destination is just a starting point for another adventure. As Bharadwaj Dayala finishes his around the world tour, he plans to take up a top-down trip of the world. His upcoming book would also hold stories of his travel along with details on the places he visited. We look forth to more from him. And we wish him the best for more fascinating travel. He succeeded in taking Vizag’s name to an international audience. And he says ‘Interest won’t take you there. You need sheer grit and determination’.
Published on print - Jan'2014. This article is a repost.