A few days ago, I got a random message on Facebook about a Podcast. You can listen to it here. It talks about how important social pressure can be to a lot of people, and how devastating it can be to their lives, both personal and professional. After listening to it, the first person that came to my mind was Rohit Upadhyay, or Biru, as he’s popularly known as.
I’ve met him only once, for a few minutes about a year ago. After attempting to bunk work and ride to some random places, he got called back to office and had to reach as soon as possible. I met him in Hyderabad on his way back to Pune,
My biggest memory after the encounter with him was this feeling that I am a fucking attention whore, and I have no right to tell people what is right and what is wrong, in anything related to motorcycles.
You look at this guy who treats cross-country motorcycle trips like Sunday morning breakfast runs, and then you look at his social media profiles, filled with hilarious updates about stupid little things, and you feel self-conscious, like a school kid would in front of Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about, a story of his skirmish with traffic police in Turkey.
Do you see the difference in attitude? If this was me, I’d probably be ranting off about how stupid this world is, and how important it is to take certain people and cut their heads off with a damp piece of cardboard.
His outlook on this world seems to be of someone who’s constantly high, completely unaffected by what’s going on around.
When I first started writing, it was mostly just a way for me to vent out my frustrations so that I didn’t strangle someone on the road somewhere. Creativity is just like breathing, if you inhale bad air, your exhale even worse stuff. I never found any other website where I could consume some quality content about motorcycles, and all it did was send me into a spiral of disgust, writing horrible stuff, reading my own horrible stuff, writing even more horrible stuff.
Then I found Biru’s website, and I read it almost everyday for a month. There are hundreds of articles in there, and the most interesting thing about each one of them is exactly the same.
If writing is art, I am more of an impressionist, as compared to Rohit’s realism. When I write about anything, it’s mostly about how I felt, which in some ways is a very feminine thing to do. Rohit’s articles are as manly as they can be, it’s all about Who What When Where Why, that’s it. I find the simplicity of his work fascinating, and it has affected my way of writing more than you’ll ever know.
What’s even more fascinating is the way he has shaped his life to see the world. For more than half a decade, he has worked with IBM, with negligible salary hikes, just because the work culture allows him to find time to travel. When he did get to go onsite with them to Finland, unlike most people who try to save the money to buy something back home, he spent most of it on seeing Europe riding a rickety old bike. Whatever was left is what he’s spending now on his current trip, which has taken him through Iran, Turkey, Italy, France, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Croatia, Kosovo, Greece, Albania and then some, not in that order of course.
I asked him why he didn’t go to South-East Asia, which would’ve been much cheaper and much easier too, and the reply was another matter-of-fact thing.
I had two plans, one for Europe and another for SE Asia. Europe plan has to be done in summers from May to September end, while SE Asia trip has to be done after October to March. While I discussed with my boss to leave the job for the second plan and get released from the job somewhere in September 2016, he offered me to take leave without pay. Now this offer was given from July to September, so I had to take the Euro trip.
This seems to be a common trend among the bikers that I’ve met and respect, they don’t think too much. Life is a series of choices that you make, and they choose travel every time, regardless of the consequences.
Another common thing is the ability to keep a job while doing what your heart desires. When I had to decide what direction I wanted to take in life, I went with writing, even though it was a compromise on my travel. I had to compromise because writing is a full-time job that pays peanuts. Biru has done his own compromise, but that’s more about walking into an office everyday and doing random shit to get money in your account every month.
I have huge respect for people who travel like a ninja and work like a boss. It takes an incredible amount of motivation to not buy shiny stuff and spend it all on experiences, something I’ve struggled with massively from time to time.
Think about this, he’ll see some incredibly beautiful sights and even more beautiful people on the road, he’ll make mistakes, get stuck in dangerous situations, and get it all sorted, he’ll experience things you and I will only read about, and after it’s all said and done, he’ll come back to India, get back to his job, and work like anybody else in that office.
I did a 20 day long trip of Bhutan and then quit my job, because I found it impossible to do what I was doing. Biru’s trip is 3 months long.
It always sounds awesome to hear someone “Quit their job to travel the world”, but it’s easier said than done, and the reality of the situation is something most people choose to ignore. Travel is expensive, not as expensive as everyday routine, but still not cheap. People like Sam Manicom are lucky and intelligent enough to make it happen, for most others it’s about working 12 months a year for 12 days of travel.
The advantage of being in control of your travel is that you don’t have to depend on sponsors to see the world. You don’t owe anybody anything, you don’t have to lick any balls, and you don’t have to waste your time on the road worrying about meeting targets or getting enough likes.
For such a huge trip, the ideal luggage option would’ve been to get proper branded panniers, but instead he went to a local shop and got a pair made himself. Why? Because why the fuck not?
I’ve heard a lot of people tell me that I should “Respect all bikers”, and I never quite understood the logic behind that. Being on a motorcycle doesn’t automatically grant you my respect, it’s doing stupid things, following your mind, and not giving a fuck about what others think that does.
It takes balls to do your thing in life, to follow the path you think is right, irrespective of what others feel, and Rohit Upadhyay is the dude with the biggest pair of giant, hairy, Rajnigandha flavored balls I’ve ever seen.