Manas and Anuradha Dewan have always been passionate travellers. Come May 31, and they will start the most ambitious of their travel ventures. Named 'Dosti On Wheels', their 100-day Odyssey will stretch from Spain till Turkey through France, Germany, Austria, Swiss, Litchenstein, Italy, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary as well as the Balkan states -- all on a motorbike.
Both avid motorcyclists -- Anu has been to Leh several times by road, has hitchhiked on her own in Europe -- the couple plans to visit 18 countries and 20,000 km across Europe and Asia. Their quest: to bond with strangers, experience worldviews across cultures and share miles of smiles along their route. SheThePeople.TV speaks to Manas and Anuradha about their venture.
How did the idea of this trip originate?
We have always been passionate explorers and an audacious plan was brewing in on our minds for quite a while now. We not only seek to explore the beauty that lies in the world out there, but we also look forward to experiencing humanity, which we often encounter when we embrace the unknown. Hence the concept, Dosti On Wheels, which will be a celebration of friendship and diversity transcending boundaries. We did not want to sit back and wait for all the circumstances to be in our favour. If we have to do it, NOW is the best time. And so, we thought, let’s do it! As they say, if you wait for company… you will keep waiting.
Are you currently on a sabbatical?
"I have taken a sabbatical from work to do this project. My last job was in Oman where I was the Chief of Marketing for a large conglomerate, the OTE Group. I completed my assignment and have now decided to put a pause to everything else till we realize this long cherished goal," says Manas.
Anuradha holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy and is a Life Coach, a Corporate Trainer and is involved with social causes. She says, "One will always be surrounded by life and its immediate demands like career, family, financials, etc. These are given and only when we commit to break out can we live our dreams."
So when did she take up biking? "When I was 10 years old," says Anuradha, explaining that she has always been a tomboy. A martial arts trainer, both Anuradha and Manas have also trained in the ancient art of Kalaripayattu.
Have you got any sponsorship for the trip or funding it completely on your own?
This trip is completely self-funded. We have worked towards this point -- saved for this moment and planned significantly. Our needs are simple, and it was possible for us to accumulate funds and head out for this dream ride.
What was the reaction of friends and relatives when they heard about the trip?
While most people have been extremely supportive, some have wondered whether we have gone insane. For example, an aunty said with the kind of money we would be spending on the trip, we could actually buy a house!
Is this the first time you have planned such extensive travel or have you done something similar earlier?
This is the first time we are planning a project of this magnitude. But we have done long trips, backpacking as well as road trips across India and other continents. Hence, we have some experience of travel but we are sure this trip will have moments that would be intense and long-lasting.
What kind of preparations did you make for the trip?
A journey spanning over 18 countries and so many cities, with 40 major stopovers needs significant planning. To begin with there are aspects of visa and motorbike export documentation and paperwork about route, the weather, terrain, riding experiences and a host of factors that we tried to assimilate during planning.
Other aspects relate to the logistics of the motorbike -- its preparation and road worthiness for the long trip at hand. The luggage bracket as well as the pannier systems also required much planning. Considering the limited carriage space we needed to be careful in planning the luggage, be it the kind of clothes we require, the tools and equipment, the gears and gadgets etc.
Sharing our experiences via the social media is also on the plan, hence, we are considering availability of wi-fi and connectivity as well as possible file storage options to enable this.
Despite all our efforts, we are prepared to innovate on the go and take it as it comes… after all, that is the essence of the trip -- to be well planned but also be flexible and accommodative.
Any challenges you've faced while planning the trip?
The biggest part was the mental preparation to step out of our comfort zone and embrace the idea of an ambitious project like this.
As they say, everything you have ever wanted is one step out of your comfort zone. We just need to believe that our efforts and the help of good people around will take us through the challenges… and with this faith in human goodness, we step out to embrace the new experiences
Do you foresee any problems during the trip?
All I can say is, what we can do on our part is ‘Hope for the best and be prepared for the worst’. Our project is called Dosti On Wheels- and that asserts our faith in people: sure we will encounter challenges- and sure we will have angels who will help us get past the challenges. Our journey will showcase this world where kindness and compassion exists even in tiny corners across the world.
What about night halts? Have you booked any hotels etc?
What we have in mind is to experience a nomadic lifestyle and so, we haven’t pre-booked our stays. Our plan is to visit a city and thereafter plan our stay -- this keeps our itinerary flexible. We may extend our stay at a particular place if we love it, or skip some if we so desire. So it will be bed & breakfast or couchsurfing.
“The future is quite open”… to quote Leonard Cohen. It’s about not having to plan every single day, but to seek fulfilment and happiness in whatever we do. And right now, with Dosti on Wheels on our To-do list, I can certainly say that life could not have been any better. We would like to help people plan similar trips. Google may list a number of mechanics, but it can't say which mechanic is the best. We will share our personal experiences to help others plan their travel.
When we return in October, we will review our future goals. We believe the ride will help us gain insight into what we truly seek, perhaps answer some deeper questions and this will help in defining the future course. At the moment, we are looking forward to a journey that will satiate our souls.
For a glimpse of their journey, track it here