Of Farms and Motorcycles
Two young professionals, in an urge to study the best practices of agriculture, travel across the country, with their mean machines and nature for company
Many of us have seen the film The Motorcycle Diaries, a biopic on the Argentine revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara, which talked about the motorcycle expedition made by Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado across South America.
A couple of city-based youngsters, inspired by the film, tired of their day jobs and wanting to document the various agricultural practices being followed in the country, set off on their trusted 350 cc motorcycles on June 25 last year, meeting over 200 farmers along the way and had a host of unusual experiences, before returning to base last month. “I was working for a software firm in the US for a few years, while my friend Deepan was working as a radio jockey in the city. I wasn’t too satisfied with my job, and always had this urge to learn more about agriculture,” says R Muthukumar,
It was our urge to study and document the different agricultural practices prevailing in the country that led us to quit our jobs and set off on this journey, on our 350 cc bikes. While our initial plan was to travel around Tamil Nadu, the paucity of organic farmers led us to travel all over the country,” Muthukumar adds.
The two friends then went onto meet organic activist Nammazhvar and farmers Julie and Vivek Cariappa who showed them that organic farming was a self-sustainable option.
“It was an amazing experience getting to meet Julie and Vivek Cariappa at their farm in HD Kote in Karnataka. They are living examples of how organic farming is a self-sustainable option, and their lifestyle and thinking influenced us in a big way,” he says.
While covering over 20,000 kms in eleven months, the duo did have their fair share of scares and encountered dangerous situations. “We were covering the Jammu-Sonamarg section in just two days and moved onto Drass, where I was hit by altitude sickness, and was finding it extremely difficult to breathe,” says V Deepan, recounting the incident with horror. Since there was no military van available, Muthu sent me in a tourist cab down to the Army Post in Sonamarg for treatment, where I had six sleeping bags piled onto me to keep me warm, and it was quite a miraculous escape in the end,” he says, relieved.
The group also had to encounter a mob, who held them captive for a few hours in Nepal as they tried to get back into Uttar Pradesh during their journey. “There was a strike that was called in Nepal, which has just recently become a democracy, and we were trying to take a risk and make our way back across the border to Uttar Pradesh. It was here that we witnessed vehicles in front of us being burned, and the mob asked us to stay back for a couple of days, till the strike ended, threatening to torch our bikes if we didn’t abide by them. It was unbelievably tense situation, and it was thanks to an Indian family with a young kid, that we were eventually freed,” Deepan says, heaving a sigh of relief.
That and a tyre puncture apart, the duo had a really smooth journey, sleeping often in the lap of nature and welcomed into their homes by farmers.
Having seen nature in its purest form during their northeastern leg of the journey, it was hard for the duo to get accustomed to the dust and grime of the city. “It was really tough to sleep in a concrete space after camping out in the open air all these months, and we truly missed nature in it’s purest form once we got back here,” Deepan signs off.