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Biking around the world
Visiting 30-odd countries over a span of 3 years is not a small feat by itself. If you add to it the fact that this was done on a motorcycle, camping at isolated places over nights of solitude and depending on local hospitality for food, refreshments and the necessary renovation of spirit, the story just becomes that much more interesting.
Jay Kannaiyan had this story to tell and his fascinating “journey of a lifetime” was a part of our Saturday specials at Café Wanderlust. Jay is an engineer by profession and having stayed in Africa and having worked in the USA, he is worldly wise. However, this did not stop him from deciding to leave his job one fine day and embark on this momentous journey all the way from Chicago to New Delhi, traversing 33 countries and importantly making, as he says, 56 chicken curries for his hosts.
Although he started in March of 2010, the preparation of the trip had started much earlier back in 2008 when Jay was in Alaska and tried the different terrains on his all-terrainer that he calls sanDRina. A Suzuki DR650 with Aqualine 40L fuel tank and air-cooled 650cc single cylinder engine, sanDRina has 21” front tyres and is capable of taking up various terrains in its stride.
From Guatemala to Peru and from Colombia to Ecuador, Jay and sanDRina went all over the world, even crossed the ocean aboard a large ship. Jay had something to teach children in Peru while he had something to learn as he went to the centre of the Incan civilization at Machu Picchu. He had his share of accidents, mechanical breakdowns and flat tyres in the middle of nowhere and while they must have been nightmares to live through for him at the time, they were very interesting stories now, retold in Jay’s own inimitable style.
Jay descended the Andes in Bolivia, struggling with the muddy tracks and he witnessed the Amazonian fire, something that he says disturbed him for some time and gave him some idea about the sheer scale that nature has and how insignificant man is, in front of that. While Brazil was fun and festive, there were night camps and the Perito Moreno glacier (the only glacier to be growing and not receding) in Argentina.
Keeping away from all the action at Tahrir Square in Egypt helped Jay spend nearly twenty minutes on his own in the Great Pyramid at Gaza. Breaking bread with the fishermen in Sudan and struggling to understand what they were saying was fun…and even more fun was when he encountered an English speaking fisherman amongst them who had been to India and studied a course at his college and lived a block away from his house in Chennai…small world, what!
While on his eventful journey, Jay did not seem to have had enough and he wanted to do more, which meant a course on sustainable development during a one year stopover in Kenya. Going back to his childhood home in Zambia and getting stung by a scorpion in Namibia, Jay’s stories had one adventure after another and all of them more fascinating than the previous one.
While the entire audience at Wanderlust sat enraptured, we could not help but wonder at the insatiable desire of this young man to travel…he ensured that the pooja at Chennai once he was back in India was not enough. He went off to finish his marvellous trip in style, and what better style for a biker than to go up the Himalayas all the way to Ladakh and back to the India Gate in Delhi where he ended his journey or did he? We at Wanderlust hope it was just the beginning and wish that Jay will have many more journeys and many more adventures and as many more stories to tell.