I’ve had the unique pleasure of riding with Deepak Amembal. The first time I rode with him was during an Ashtavinayak ride in 2013, and this was right after my marriage. Little did I know that Deepak Amembal was a much accomplished rider; unassuming, mild mannered and never to brag. I’ve had the honor of opening a couple of beer cans too with Sir MagicEye; as he is commonly referred to as in the riding community. And I am not exaggerating when I say this, but this gentleman can party like there’s no tomorrow and ride till kingdom come. Deepak Amembal is an avid photographer, an Indian travel blogger, artist, animal lover, father and a loving husband.
I’ve also interacted with Deepak Amembal in the capacity of an Indian travel blogger, during many blogger meets we hosted and interacted. Deepak also joined us for our Nepal Road Trip in May this year as one of the six Indian travel bloggers who crossed borders for the very first time.
Ladies and gentlemen, here’s presenting an interview with Sir MagicEye; the first in the ‘Aage Se Right’ series of real stories, real travelers on the Indian highways! #AageSeRight
Block quotes are responses by Deepak Amembal
Interview with Deepak Amembal, Indian Travel Blogger and biker
SMT: What inspired you get behind the handlebar?
Ever since I wanted to travel I dreamt of doing it on a two wheeler. Have always preferred two wheels over four, as four wheels seemed too balanced for my unbalanced thoughts.
SMT: You owned a Jawa once. Can you tell us about the all India ride you did on it?
My first motorcycle was a Yezdi 250Classic bought in 1979. After having traveled extensively for a couple of years in Maharashtra and Goa, I was fired up to do an All India ride and was fortunate enough to have four friends who shared my enthusiasm. We decided to go for it with the aim of attending the opening event of the Asian Games being hosted in Delhi. All except one of us were salaried employees hence were fortunate enough to have been blessed by a sponsorship of Tata Oil Mills made possible by Ninad Bhosle who was also one of the riders. We were five riders on three motorcycles, all Yezdis.
We did it without google maps, mobile phones or GPS. Was a fun thirty five day ride round the country, more or less like the Golden Quadrilateral route. We rode from Mumbai right down to Kanyakumari along the Western coast and then upto Calcutta on the Eastern coast and on towards Delhi and back to Mumbai via Ahmedabad. We did not face a single problem due to our motorcycles. They were excellent! Not a single breakdown.
I did not have enough leave but was fortunate to get my leave on ‘loss of pay’.
Unfortunately I do not have any photographs of the ride as they were all washed away in the infamous cloud burst of 2005 in Mumbai.
SMT: How would you define your traveling style? (Example: Family, adventure, paced)
My travel style is laid back. Never in a hurry to reach anywhere. Enjoy the moment on the road, alone or with family, friends. I do not plan for adventure but it happens as there is always a very loosely planned itinerary designed to be changed for every change in mood or weather.
SMT: Was an incident on the highway where you felt touched by human kindness?
During our All India ride on our Yezdis, one of the bikes ran out of petrol somewhere on the highway in Rajasthan. Most of the vehicles passing by were trucks that stopped to tell us that the nearest petrol pump is around thirty kilometres away. Those days there were more fuel pumps selling diesel on the highway than petrol hence we could not be sure of the information gathered. While we were pondering on the ways out of the critical situation, a fancy car going in the opposite direction stopped and the chauffeur got down, approached us and asked us what the problem was. We apprised him of our predicament after which he asked us to wait and went back to the car and spoke to the person sitting in the rear seat, looked back at us and beckoned us with a thumbs up sign. I went, wished our saviour and thanked him profusely for the assistance as his chauffeur went to the boot, took out a can and siphoned off five litres of petrol and went to our bike and poured the liquid gold in the empty tank. The saviour asked us where we were off to and from where we had come. After answering his queries I asked him about himself. Turned out he was from the now defunct Rajasthan Royalty and in his words, ‘I don’t want anybody travelling in our state to feel that the Rajasthanis are not helpful. My wishes with you all for a trouble free travel. Enjoy your stay in Rajasthan!’
SMT: You’re one widely respected Indian Travel Blogger. What inspired you to become a blogger?
The urge to share my travel experiences was, is and will be the only motivation to blog. That is what makes me an Indian Travel Blogger!
SMT: Which is your favorite highway in India? and Why?
I do not have any favourite highway as a matter of fact I prefer the back roads as they are more scenic and hospitable dotted with people who love to interact.
SMT: As road trippers what do you think are our responsibilities, and what are our rights?
Our responsibilities are to follow all traffic rules and respect the fellow roadie. Do not litter.
Our right is to expect the same from other road trippers.
SMT: How do you go about planning your road trips?
In the good old days, I would sit with paper road maps and work out a route. Today I use Google maps to chart out a general route and then contact online forums like H V Kumar on Facebook, which crowd source information for fine tuning.
SMT: You traveled recently around the country riding over 15,000 kms. Can you tell us the most unforgettable moment, and the most regrettable moment?
The most unforgettable moment was when we met a retiree from Leeds, UK, on a cycle on his way to Leh from Manali, all alone.
Looking back, no regrettable moments. Only joyous moments and learning moments.
SMT: Have ever traveled with Bozo anytime for a road trip? Can you share how the experience was and what you had to specifically plan for?
Travelled with Bozo just once, to Lonavala and since it was a short trip did not have to do any extensive planning. Just stopped hourly to let him stretch, pee and drink water. Did not give him anything to eat a couple of hours before the drive to avoid travel sickness.
He enjoyed it thoroughly and added so much life and fun to our journey too.
Wish we could do that more often but the availability of pet friendly hotels are far and few between and now that we have found a great kennel to keep him where he enjoys his holidays, during our holidays, we prefer it over travelling with him.
SMT: In your view, what can be done by the country (not just the government) to promote travel by road?
The most important thing that needs to be done apart from building roads is to build and maintain clean toilets at regular intervals on the highways.
And I pray that all drivers and riders learn to respect fellow road trippers and the traffic rules so that road travel is looked upon as the best way to journey!
SMT: How do you manage to carry around your camera on the bike? Isn’t it cumbersome?
Not really, as years of road travel has taught me to travel light.
SMT: How do you plan to celebrate your 70th birthday?
Shall decide when I am 69 🙂
To know more about Deepak Amembal aka Sir Magiceye do visit:
http://magiceye.redbubble.com/works To view/buy his Art
http://photings.blogspot.com/ For jottings on photographs
http://magictravels.blogspot.com/ For the magic of travel
http://mumbai-eyed.blogspot.com/ For your daily dose of Mumbai
http://petsalways.blogspot.com/ For rejoicing pet love!
http://500px.com/DeepakAmembal/store To add his art to your collection!