My desire to ride a motorcycle solo around India didn’t occur overnight, but rather its birth hovers somewhere between the blue glow of cowboy shows I watched on TV as a kid – a plate of cold pork and beans on my lap; a slice of white bread to sop them up – and my father telling me I could “go anywhere, do anything, be anyone” I wanted. For a girl too timid to walk the empty halls of her grade school without sliding one shoulder along the wall, the notion of going, doing, being was beyond imagination. Yet, imagination is the precise ingredient required for life. Dreams just out of grasp nudge us toward fulfillment. Big or small. Real or fantastical. If we are living, then we are pushing against the boundaries of our existence.
This is a story of my push. One rooted in discovery and lasting five months and covering nearly 7,000 miles on the back of a 350cc Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle along roads that withered and yawned as they hugged the ragged edge of India.
The plan was simple: buy a motorcycle and ride it around India. The journey, however, was far from straightforward, beginning with the fact that when I decided to undertake the feat, I’d never ridden a motorcycle. I can’t explain the drive behind the compulsion to do what I did, except to say it tapped into a longing for freedom I’d first felt while under the spell of TV westerns. A motorcycle was, after all, a modern-day horse and India was, in many ways, the wild west––especially for a woman alone in a world where women didn’t travel alone and on a machine built with men in mind.