Nittin Khattar’s passion for bike rides, and his desire do something good for the country, made him go for a ‘cause ride’ which changed his life. 6,404 kms across the Golden Quadrilateral. This is his journey in his own words.
An avid traveller and a biker – that is how I like to define myself other than being an IT professional, which is my day job. Over the last few years, I have visited and explored many places across India. It was my love for bike rides and a desire to do something for the country that inspired me to take a life changing step – the decision to ride solo across the Golden Quadrilateral and to ride for a cause. Here is how the whole thing turned out.
Why Riding for a cause:
Reckless driving and littering are the two things which bothered me a lot when it came to discussing Indian roads. But I realized very soon that quibbling with people on these topics every day was of no use at all; there were only excuses and complaints which came up in the end. It was after this though that I started pondering over what I, at a personal level, could do to make people aware about these basic social conundrums. I always felt that instead of just complaining and cribbing about such problems, we should focus our energies in identifying our passion and then in utilizing it for the betterment of the country.
Eventually, my bike showed me the right way. And hence began my journey – an enthralling bike ride of 6,404 kms (passing through 13 states and 80 small/big cities) across the Golden Quadrilateral (Delhi – Kolkata – Chennai – Mumbai – Delhi).
The idea was to promote two basic messages among owners and workers at various dhabas, restaurants, food-joints, and hotels on the way; from the many people I came across; and also among friends and supporters on social media. The two messages were simple:
- Clean India Green India – Do not litter
- Obey traffic rules – Don’t use mobile phones while driving, use helmets properly, and don’t drink and drive
And the journey begins:
Before I actually hit the road, the journey was a just thought, a passion and a motivation. The priority for me was to prepare myself first – both physically and mentally, for riding the complete stretch of the Golden Quadrilateral alone. Other than that, for all the required ground work and research, I coordinated with my riding mentor, Mr. Biswajit Bharali, to guide me.
70% of the route that I had decided to take was new to me. I had no fixed itinerary, no accommodation arrangements, no GPS trackers, and no information about local places in terms of safety, food and more.
The road was tough and the path unknown – but it was my passion for riding, my purpose behind this ride, and the wish to gain that experience of a lifetime, which kept me motivated as I continued with my preparations.
Finally, on 19th December 2014, I started my journey to the unknown.
Once I was finally on the road, every state and city brought a bunch of surprises. And the best part was that I got a chance to meet many charismatic people.
It wasn’t a cake walk though. There are many situations one needs to tackle on the road, both mentally and physically. From extreme weather conditions to physical pain, I faced it all. It also happened many a times that severe back pain or fever overpowered my body and me to call off the journey in the middle.
But then, there were the good times – when I got appreciated by people for my efforts, when they promised to help solve the issues I was fighting for, and so much more.
Of the many people I met, some became acquaintances, some became friends, and many treated me like family. I was offered discounts at hotels; then there were two gentlemen who contributed their bit for my bike’s petrol; some gave me shelter and food; many bike service centres did not charge; and there were loads of wishes, cheers, and the encouraging thumbs-ups all along the way. I had never thought that I would get a chance to touch so many lives, even if in a small way, in such a short span of time.
Throughout the journey, I was also greeted by several surprises, and many motivating stories which helped me in one way or the other. Here are two which came along when I needed the positive push the most:
1) The Varanasi surprise – My bike was parked at a school in Varanasi for a night. In the morning, the Principal, Dr. Jai Prakash Pandey, came to know about my cause. He was very happy and invited me to address the students after school.
A special session was called – all students, teachers, and professors were there, and I got the chance to live that proud moment when I explained the importance of cleanliness and road safety to the students.
2) A dilemma, an inspiration – I left Kolkata on 25th December, with a very heavy heart. ‘What am I doing? What I am expecting from all this? Will this ride bring a change in anyone’s life?’ All these questions had been bothering me. The next morning, while I was explaining the need for clean surroundings to a hotel staff, I got a chance to meet this 22-year-old guy. While serving breakfast he told me that he had studied till the ninth grade and knew some English. He also informed me about his love for bikes.
And the best part was when he discussed how he never lets anyone litter in his neighbourhood. He congratulated me and promised to continue doing the same.
The road ahead – future plans
With the surprising success of my ride, I decided to keep working in the same direction. There are hundreds of active riding groups in India. How amazing would it be if every other day, a solo rider or any group is on a ‘cause ride’, spreading awareness about any social issue depending on local needs. This idea is very much possible. All it requires is some support and the belief that ‘riding’ is not only about adventure, but it’s also about the ‘responsibility’.
I’m also involved in CSR activities at my organization, ‘Sopra India Pvt Ltd’. Our organization is contributing a lot in the education, sanitation, environment and talent developments areas. Here, I initiated a campaign to clean the nearby surroundings last month. With the support of my colleagues and management, we met some senior officials of Noida authority and after a few meetings, we were successful in initiating the campaign.
My journey ended on 10th January, 2015.
It taught me a lot; humanity being one of the biggest lessons. But other than that, I realized that only talks, discussions, banners, flags, rides, FB likes and shares won’t bring change. We need to start looking inside us, start introspecting, and find ways in which we can successfully change the world we live in, for the better.
– Nittin Khattar