1) You have been riding
much before this mega trip and have done lot of rides, but
did you ever dream of a round the world trip before ? When
can you say this idea struck you?
When I was kid at boarding school in Kodaikanal, one of my
seniors and his father rode a black Triumph motorcycle from
London to Delhi to raise funds for their deaf foundation.
They presented about their trip and I guess it struck a chord
with me deep down inside. Many years later when I was in my
first job in Chicago, I started touring on motorcycles and
it slowly dawned on me that perhaps I, too, could make a long
overland journey someday. I got on to motorcycle forums like
ADVrider.com and HorizonsUnlimited.com and enjoyed the present
day stories of motorcyclists traveling through all these wonderful
lands and the desire to head out there was growing in me.
2) What was your first motorbike or scooter ? How
much cc ? Im just trying to find your two wheeler inspiration
some where :)
I learned to ride on my mama's (uncle's) Hero Honda CD100SS
in our village outside Chennai and then left for the US. The
first bike I bought was a 95 Ducati 900SS. A complete impulse
buy as I was so turned on by the guttural sound of that machine.
But I was too scared to ride it, so I sold it quickly and
bought a more proper 92 Suzuki GS500 and I learned to ride
on that bike.
3) I read on your website jamminglobal.com, that you
had a desire to raise awareness about sustainability and eudaimonia.How
did you raise awareness in all the travel across 33 countries
? This can definitely be an inspiration for others too.
I wanted this journey to be a transition in my life. I knew
it would change me personally and since I would be traveling
through remote places of wild nature and spending time with
the rural peoples of these countries, I figured I should focus
my life in this sphere after the journey. Before I left, I
was seeking a change from my engineering career into one more
involved with the issues surrounding sustainability. I applied
for and got accepted to do this distance masters program in
Sustainable Development from SOAS at the University of London.
I studied for the courses on my laptop and took the exams
at British Councils; my first year exams were in Brazil and
my second and third year were in Kenya. I was reading about
Climate Change and Development as I was journeying through
the Amazon and seeing that rainforest being burned and cleared
with my own eyes. I read about Water Resources Management
as I talked with the locals in southern Chile who were fighting
the government's plan to dam up the big rivers of Patagonia.
These are contentious issues and I wanted to help move them
forward. In the corporate world, you have primarily convergent
problems where there's a clear solution to each issue. But
in the development sector, encompassing environmental and
social issues, the problems are more of a divergent nature
where there are many solutions to each issue and that's where
I would like to apply my life-skills. In studying for this
degree and talking about these issues on my website and social
media, I'm hoping to raise awareness on these pressing issues.
Regarding Eudaimonia, that's something that came up during
the journey. It's an old Greek philosophical term that means
something deeper than happiness. It's said that eudaimonia
can be found at the intersection of what's true, good and
beautiful. Those are all subjective terms but we all know
it when we see or experience it. I stayed with a lot of local
hosts along my journey and for many of them, as a sign of
gratitude, I cooked my version of a chicken curry. What I
saw was that people's interaction with me changed from before
the curry to after the curry. I feel that the experience of
having this bald biker from India cook a curry in their kitchen
with spices that his mom sent via care packages was such a
grand experience that it transformed our brief relationship.
People were overcome with joy after taking that first bite
of my curry. I'm not saying my curry is the tastiest in the
world, but I was able to connect to their stomachs and tasty
food never lies. Good food goes straight to the brain where
we recognize what's beautiful and seeing it created in front
of you makes it true. As I saw this same experience happen
every time I cooked, I realized that perhaps I was spreading
eudaimonia through my chicken curry. It's a simple idea but
at the same time, a powerful one.
|The girl Jay sponsors through Children.org
in Lusaka, Zambia.
Invited for dinner
by local farmers in northern Bolivia
4)How did you fund this trip ? What percentage has
been sponsorship ? Has it been easy selling the idea?
The trip has been primarily self-funded. I saved from my earnings
and cashed out some investments before I left the US. I picked
up a few sponsors along the way but they were only gear sponsors,
as in they gave me things like chains and brake parts and
gloves but no cash. Some friends and followers have donated
via PayPal on my website and that's helped me manage the budget.
I tried to seek sponsorship before leaving on the trip but
no one was biting and that's when I decided that I was just
going to go it alone.
5) What support you have managed to get from organizations
? I saw that you have some association with the Ted Simon
Yes, I applied for and got selected to be a Jupiter's Traveller
as part of the Ted Simon Foundation. What they do is encourage
travellers to do something creative with their journeys and
share the message that we discover along the way. That means
they will help putting us in touch with publishers for books
or directors for movies and things like that. And more than
that, it's a network for connecting past travellers with present-day
ones and building the community.
6)Now how did you manage the clothing part as you
travelled across such extreme climates - probably extreme
heat and cold ? Did you dump the clothes or couriered them
to the next destination?
I travelled through a lot of varying climates and some days,
like those in the Sahara, it would be extremely hot in the
day time but then I would need a thin jacket at night, so
I couldn't just send my cold gear ahead. I just traveled with
it all. The key to being comfortable on a bike is layering.
What I did was carry lots of thin layers that could be adjusted
to suit perfectly the climate I was experiencing, so no thick
sweaters or jackets, just thin performance thermals and lots
of different base layers that when added up left me feeling
toasty even in the chills of Patagonia. To be comfortable
in the heat, my riding suit is all mesh but it's Kevlar mesh
so it's much stronger than regular polyurethane mesh. And
then when it got chilly, I would put a liner on, then a thermal
and for really cold riding or rain riding, a rain jacket.
Swiss Alps, heading for Africa
7)I saw the solar panel on your motorbike and really
loved the idea of the suns energy on a long trip.Is the solar
panel a common accessory used by all long distance riders
or it is something you chanced upon ?
The idea behind the solar panel was a good one but it didn't
work out in reality. The thing is that the angle of the panel
to the sun has to be fixed and on a bike it's constantly changing,
so I couldn't get a strong enough current to really charge
anything. I didn't see any other long distance traveller with
it, so no, it's not common at all and they all laughed at
me. But, I'm an engineer and a tinkerer and I loved putting
it together, even if it didn't work out.
8)Do you have any plans to write a book on this ride
Yes, most definitely. I'm currently working on it and I can't
say when it's going to be done. I have a publisher already
interested and just need to focus my energy on it.
9)Is there any particular "happiest moment"
that you would like to mention in the ride and any major disappointment
that you felt during the ride?
There were lots of happy moments on the ride and maybe one
of my most memorable experiences would be the one month ocean
voyage that I took from Argentina to Germany aboard a cargo
ship. I was really thrilled when the ship finally left port
in Buenos Aires and I said good-bye to the Americas as I left
via sea. This was going to be a slow journey and I really
wanted to experience a slow crossing of the oceans and was
extremely happy when everything came together (visas, funds,
logistics, etc.) that allowed me to go on this journey.
The only major disappointment during the trip was with myself
when I was almost ready to give up in Tanzania. I was trying
to fix a problem on my bike, sanDRina, and I couldn't figure
it out for two months and I was stuck way out in some village.
The mechanical breakdown had lead to an emotional breakdown
but then finally I found the problem and the ride continued.
10) I'm a biker and so would applaud you trip, but
how was your parents reaction when you first told them about
They were not pleased. You can imagine, they are regular conservative
South Indian parents and they couldn't understand why I would
want to do something like this. They said they did not approve
but there was nothing they could do to stop me. Slowly over
the course of the journey when they saw that I wasn't just
going on a long holiday and was actually learning about sustainability
and planning for my future, they finally came around and supported
11) Do you have any plans to similarly ride out somewhere
else in future ?
No plans at the moment but maybe sometime in the future, a
ride through Central Asia and into Russia... Plus, there's
all of Western Africa to still ride through.
12) I was part of the ride organised by DBBR and Joshua
John and thoroughly enjoyed meeting you and seeing the bike.
Whats your feeling on a group ride with 300 bikers after a
global solo ride ?
Yeah that was a bit intense to be amongst such a huge group
of bikers but I loved it. I'm so honored by the respect that
Delhi Bikers have shown towards me and my trip and I hope
I can inspire at least a few of them to get going on their
13) Any special advice to bikers on long solo trips?
Just take things as they come. It's good to have a plan but
also good to just let the journey direct you. Being solo it's
much easier to just go with the flow and not need the consensus
of the group and that's what makes solo travel so special.
Of course learn how to fix most things on your bike and then
you can confidently ride into far away places without worrying
about a break down. Regarding safety, it's good to have a
network of contacts who are following you back home and let
them know when you're going into places without connection
so that they aren't worried about your safety.
14)Was speed your best friend on this long trip?
I mean did you have an aim or target to ride at certain speeds?
I love speed but gave up on high speed for this trip. The
DR when fully loaded can go quite fast, like above 120 km/h
but then fuel mileage drops a lot, so I just aimed for around
90 km/h when I was cruising on the highway. No need to go
any faster and that speed allowed me to slow down quickly
when obstacles turned up on my path.
15) How did you cope with loneliness on this long
I didn't really have any issues of loneliness on this trip
as I discovered joy in my solitude. I learned that we share
the same energy with most every other living thing on this
planet so in that sense, we are never alone. Sure at times
I missed human company but then in a few days I would be in
a city and staying with some local hosts and that allowed
me to connect with others and be social but then I yearned
again to be out on the road.
16) Did you ever feel like quitting midway in the
Only once and that was in Tanzania when I couldn't figure
out why the bike would run for a few minutes and then die.
I initially thought it was an electrical problem and tried
for a long time to fix it but I wasn't getting anywhere. After
two months of trying to fix her out in rural Tanzania, I was
ready to just give up and burn the bike. But then finally
I took a step back and realized that it wasn't an electrical
issue at all but actually a fuel issue! The fuel filter had
got clogged and resulted in the intermittent running. I laughed
at myself and promised sanDRina I would never give up on her
with these friendly villagers from a freak thunderstorm
in northern Mozambique.
Crash in northern
17) How did you mentally prepare yourself with respect
to the 'Risk of motorbiking' this long distance ?
Well there is no such thing that riding for a long distance
is more risky than riding to your local grocer. Actually statistics
show that most accidents happen close to home and at low speed.
But of course, I knew that accidents were inevitable and the
main thing I did was learn how to control my motorcycle properly
and I did that by going to track days and learning the fine
art of motorcycle control. I learned especially about braking
and how to progressively apply more brake pressure without
locking the wheels, which is usually how most accidents happen.
Also, I took a mantra to wear my full safety riding gear at
all times and while I did have a few accidents on this trip,
I didn't get even one injury.
18) Has there been an inner awakening or discovering
some inner peace on this trip?
Yes, I feel more comfortable now with my place in The Universe.
I still don't know exactly what is my purpose here but I've
learned not to worry about that and just to be. There are
so many souls on this planet and many of them do not have
the privilege to contemplate the greater purpose of life and
everything that we know, so those of us that can, must. There
is a lot wrong with today's world and the way our civilization
is growing but there is also a lot right with the way humanity
connects and communities grow and this journey has shown me
that the energy you put out will come back to you. So being
positive and living with a peaceful soul will bring others
like that into your life and then that becomes your Universe.
Just harboring negative thoughts all the time will attract
those very thoughts into your life and then it becomes all
gloomy. Being at peace with yourself can do a lot of good
for the rest of humanity and a long trip like this engenders
20) Do you think you would take your motorbike for
a similar trip if you were not too good on the mechanical
I personally wouldn't but I know many travellers who know
nothing about how to fix their bikes and they are out there
traveling. But they do have a lot of stress in their lives
when things do go wrong and that's why I wanted to learn how
to fix my motorcycle, to avoid that stress and just be prepared
for the breakdowns when they happen. At the minimum I think
riders should know how to fix a flat tire, check the spark
plug and inspect the battery.
21) The Suzuki DR650 sanDRina is indeed a special
bike to you. Whats your feelings towards it? Do you have any
conversation with it on a ride sometimes, or give it a small
sanDRina and I share a special bond. She's more than just
a bike to me. She was my traveling partner and companion and
more than that, she was my life-line in all these various
countries. sanDRina's health was of paramount importance to
me because if she wasn't running, then I wasn't going anywhere,
so I made sure to fix whatever went wrong as soon as it went
wrong rather than waiting for the problem to become more serious,
like replacing a leaking gasket on the engine. I have lots
of talks with sanDRina, like when I'm doing a repair or after
we've just crossed a really rough stretch.
22) Planning any rewards for sanDRina...? new paint
coat and shine etc? :)
sanDRina doesn't like to be clean and won't appreciate a new
paint coat. What she will appreciate though is a clean carburetor,
air filter and smoothly running engine. I have some long term
issues to fix on her, like wear on her swingarm and a stripped
sparkplug thread and Suzuki India have come forward and offered
to help me in those maintenance items. She'll be on the road
for years to come...
23) I feel that the media does not do enough justice
by way of coverage to bikers who are riding and promoting
different social causes. Whats your feeling ? Any suggestions
for improvement ?
Yeah, that's a tough one. And most of the times when bikers
make it into the news, it's usually when they are doing something
bad, but that's also the nature of mainstream media - bad
news sells more than good news. So, it's up to portals like
yours and DBBR to get the message out on bikers who are making
a positive contribution.
24) What are your future plans? Back to the daily
grind or some new initiatives ?
Well, I'm currently focused on writing the book about my journey
and then I'll see. No set plans, yet. I don't think I can
go back to the daily grind. I have a few projects in mind
and will reveal them when the time is right!
BT: That was great! Thanks for your time
and sharing all the riding gyan(knowledge). I do hope a lot
more folks are inspired by your ride and help save the planet
and make us better human beings.Thanks again.
All ride photographs copyright with Jay Kannaiyan.
He can be reached through his website http://jamminglobal.com/