Across The Country in 28 Days5 min read
You wouldn’t expect your average engineering student to ride a bicycle all the way till Delhi, on a whim. However, Kartik Varma is not your average engineering student. A fourth year student at Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT), Kartik is the go-to guy for all things fresh and witty. Adventurous and restless, Kartik decided to go on an adventure- a 28-day trip on his bicycle from Manipal to Delhi.
With sponsors, encouragement and a well-planned itinerary, Kartik kept us in the loop throughout his journey through his website, Instagram and Facebook.Presently at Delhi, Kartik provided a comprehensive and very entertaining account of his trip in an interview with TMJ.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
Were you always an adventurer, or was it your first time at something like this?
I’ve always been an adventurer and explorer. I’ve been on the roofs of AB1, AB2, AB5, NLH, IC, Emerald, the building next to Emerald and also a few Girls’ toilets. I’ve also sneaked into my hostel between 3-5 AM numerous times.
What was the reaction you received from your friends and family when you told them about your trip?
Accusations of insanity. Apart from two very close friends who thought it was a brilliant idea.
How did you prepare for such a long trip? What was your fitness regime and diet like?
My levels of practice (physical) were 6 feet under the ‘optimum’ mark. I had never cycled more than 45 kms before the trip! This was the primary concern of most people, and also their reason to shoot down the idea. However, my instincts were resolute, and I refused to budge even in the face of these claims.
Mentally, I was born ready. I knew I had to do this; there were no moments when I felt like giving up, no times when I’d had enough. And my sponsors, Decathlon, Firefox Bikes, India Lets Play and Wildcraft made everything relatively convenient with their equipment.
What inspired you to do something so venturesome?
The subconscious processes about 40 million bits of data per second. There was definitely a host of cues that directed my mind to come to this conclusion, and they lie beyond the scope of conscious scrutiny. It was also an answer to my ambition; I wanted to do something that was significant, that I could look back on and be proud of.
What are your most memorable moments from the journey? Did you face any problems on the way?
On the side I was cycling on, there was a bunch of women working in the fields, which gestured me to stop. Seasoned by the futile exercises of various curious people, I didn’t stop, but instead shouted out ‘Mein Shaadi Shuda hun, mein nahi ruk sakta’. I intended it to signify that whereas I was excited at the prospect of stopping in a mustard field full of women, I had prior commitments. But, they thought that I thought they were calling me for a ‘business appointment’.
This aunty chased me with one barefoot and the corresponding slipper in her right hand, and with the other slipper and the other hand preventing her pajama from befriending the ground.
Her mouth was a blur of endless profanities.
I couldn’t stop laughing or glancing back with fear for the next 6 kms.I was incredibly fortunate because a plethora of things could have gone south but nothing did.
How have those 28 days changed you?
Kartik V2.0 (pros):
Aware about the middle class
Aware about how a large part of India lives
Aware of what it takes to be successful
Aware of possibilities
Relies more on instincts and subconscious pulls
Has had individuality solidified
Kartik V2.0 (Cons)
Currently has PTSD – Post Travelling Super-ness disorder
Difficult to adjust in normal society
Against mindless consumerism and the singular pursuit of money without passion – Parents don’t understand why I don’t want a job until I know what to do.
Will you be doing something like this again in the future?
This trip has given me a radical, new perspective. I do not have anything concrete yet, but I see a ray of sunshine in the next 8 months.
How did you arrange sponsorship for your trip?
The process was straightforward but demanding.
Here’s the recipe:
Sponsor (Serves 1)
7 Phone Calls
9 kilograms of professionalism
8 table spoons of following up
Did you experience anything on the way, which you learned from?
It was an immersive learning experience. I learned all the time. Chai is necessary. Pedalling for 10 hours a day makes you understand how your mind works.
On certain days, you identified yourself as someone else to people. What kinds of responses did you receive?
Entertaining ones. When I was Mr. Vimal Singh, who is currently cycling from the USA to France, in a world record attempt, I met someone who gave me ‘121 hazaar crore bharatiyon ki Shubkamnayen’. Also told me he had a case of ‘garv mehsus horaha hai’. He also took a bunch of selfies, presumably for family, friends and jealous colleagues.
The most popular answer was,”I am cycling to my own marriage. My to-be-wife has challenged me. If I complete this journey, I will not have to pay alimony in the event of a divorce. I got many photos clicked, got tea for free and also got a box of sweets.
What kept you motivated through your 28-day journey to Delhi?
Cycling to Delhi. There were no doubts; just pure purpose.
What would you say were the 3 most important things you couldn’t have done this trip without?
Cycle, functioning body, money.
What was it like when you finished your journey?
I was supposed to reach back home at 4. Got back at 1:30 instead. My mother promptly refused entrance and asked me to go cycle for some more time so that she could prepare everything. I was welcomed with three dhol wallas.
My mind was reeling under the comprehension that I’d just cycled 2300 km. It was rather overwhelming.
You mentioned something about a short film in one of your posts on Instagram. Could you tell us more about it?
I have been, not so covertly, documenting my journey using a DSLR. I am going to string all of that into a timelapse video which will be nice to watch.
Sub-edited by Manasi Srivathsan