Two friends and an epic road trip!
Deepak Kumar Chauhan, aka DK traveled 46000+km across India in 500+days on a Royal Enfield with mobile camera and a friend – Bhishma. Currently he is working on a travel blogging platform – TripMapic
Interviewer’s note: I’ve not had the chance to meet DK personally but have had countless interactions over chat and phone. It can get scary sometimes with the speed at which he responds on chats. While you’re done typing a simple “hello”, there would 10 unread messages from him. DK is a colorful character. You ask him something, he’ll come back with “chalo ek kahaani sunata hoon”. You don’t meet such fellows anymore. More power to you DK. Wish you all the best with TripMapic!
1. Can you share the most memorable moments from the 46,000 km ride of yours across India?
I always get confused when I start searching for all the moments which stand out. Initially I could point out some of the moments but I always ended up telling the complete story. Recently, I was asked this same question when I was with some travelers and I ended up telling them a 3-hour long story.
But let me answer anyway. It was when we met with an accident. I was sitting on the back seat and my friend was riding for a change. I was looking up in the sky clicking photos and before I knew it I had fallen but still looking at the sky! Something happened at moment and I still don’t know what. I was on ground with my face looking into the blue skies and not able to get up. Everything was a haze and I felt I could not hear anything for a while. Bhisma, my friend was screaming from 50 meters away – “are you fine??”. All this while I was just trying to get my bearings.
The reason I would call this memorable is because I survived and it made me realize how fragile our lives are. Helmets have always been on top of my list since then.
2. 500 days on the road is not easy. How did you go about making arrangements and planning?
We didn’t make any arrangements and never planned as a rule. Initially we planned to go from Mumbai to Kanyakumari in 15-20 days but ended up spending 19 months on the road! I still believe we were very lucky to have done this journey. Planning a trip which is this long can really be a task!
3. How does it feel to finally be in one place for two nights in a row?
Initially, it was very irritating! I lost patience with everyone and felt like I should drop everything and start running till I fainted. I started smoking more sitting at home and not doing anything. I felt like a bird in a cage. As time passed we started getting used to the cage. We knew from the beginning that planning wouldn’t work in our case and lived for the next day. Now I have started work on my travel startup TripMapic and Bhishma is working on creating a solar cycle. Not saying that we have achieved what we set out for, but these have definitely helped us get used to daily life.
4. Tell us about the people you met and how they helped you along the way.
The list is very long. Each day someone was there to help us. When I came back home I thought of calling everyone. A lot of people asked me to give them a call when I reach home but I ended up calling no one which is bad on my part. One of these days, I will take an unlimited calling plan and call them all to relive every memory of this trip!
5. What inspired you to leave your job and then take up riding this way? We heard you were a techie in your previous avatar.
I didn’t leave my job for the first 12 months. I was working remotely and riding simultaneously. I spent whatever I got, and never had enough savings. The max daily budget was 1000 rupees for both us including stay, fuel and food.
I impulsively left my job in the 13th month. But this when I got help from the wonderful folk of north east. Help from local people and riders in north east was so immense that I traveled for 7 more months without much money and a job. They literally financed the entire trip after that.
6. Tell us about TripMapic. What was your inspiration to create this travel blog platform?
After reading my first blog post, Rahul called me and asked me to work with him on this travel project. Somewhere we had forgotten the charm of sending postcards to family and friends and realized that problems such as lack of internet connection, mobile network and access to authentic travel stories was very real. Adding one and one we came up with the idea of Tripmapic. The Idea was to create a travel app which helps travelers to create a geo-tagged travel blog which can be useful to others. This app works offline as too. So a traveler can create a travel blog while traveling and this gets synced internet is available. Download the app
Another interesting bit is that though Rahul and I have been working on this since the past 10 months we haven’t met even once yet! We’ve been working over phone calls (not even Skype). I’m pretty sure when we meet we wouldn’t recognize each other too, so why bother 😉
7. Can you share some figures on downloads, number of blogs on the TripMapic?
The app was launched around 4 months ago and in the short time we have 2500+ downloads all organically. There are over 4000 postcards for different locations around world.
8. Which amongst all the states you rode in is your favorite and why?
I think Jammu and Kashmir will be our favorite. When we rode the mountains and were captivated by the beauty that surrounded us, we decided to just submit ourselves to nature. And nature surprises you in so many ways that you’re mostly left speechless.
9. How would you rate the road conditions on this ride?
I heard a lot of people joke about Indian roads having moon sized craters. But they were all true 🙂 Unless you are riding on National Highways, one needs to be really prepared for a bumpy ride. Of course, if you wish to take the state highways, be prepare for a ride on moon land with earth like gravity!
10. Given the chance and resources, would you do this ride again?
Would I like to be born again? NO. A lot happened on this trip and if I do it again it won’t be same. I won’t feel the same; and that feeling is important for me. But I am not retired yet, just trying to save some money before I go for world tour.
11. You shared that you’re working on a travel hostel in Varanasi. Could you shed some light on that?
It’s actually not my hostel. A man needs 4 things to live – a roof, clothes, food and internet. So if one had clothes I would need to arrange the remaining 3. A good friend decided to open a traveler hostel in Varanasi and asked for my advice and we decided to make it traveler friendly. Being a traveler, I am thinking like one.
12. Tell us more about the bike. How did she behave on this really long ride of 500 days?
It was Bhishma’s bike and I was riding it. Bhishma left after some months in between because of work and everyone started to believe that it’s my bike. I never had a bike and don’t have one now. But I can claim that I have traveled across India on a Bullet.
He bought this 350cc bike and we were lucky that it gave us no issues. For the entire journey of 46,000 km we only had 4 punctures and that too when we were in a city or near some puncture shops. Touch wood!
13. What was your parent’s reaction when you came back?
I received the weirdest reaction when I came back. They didn’t react! When I told them about all the places I had traveled on a motorcycle, they just told me to shut up and have dinner!
You can read more about his story on LonelyIndia
Pic credits: DK Chauhan unless mentioned.