Firstly, here’s some background information. Floods hit Leh and surrounding regions in the year 2010 washing out many people’s lives and properties. A lot of my friends, who work at Splash Ladakh, witnessed it first hand and ran for their lives. And some like Govind Adhikari, Santosh Karki and Nabin Sunuwar have also seen their houses being demolished by the Nepal Earthquake.
To self obsess over an awesome facebook profile picture !
hahahaha.. kidding.. read on..
” I don’t even know if that is possible by me. I’ve done a 100km ride earlier but 500km ? Sounds mad ! “
was my first reaction when Ankeet told me this event called KC500 was happening and a bunch of psychos were planning to ride from Chennai to Kodaikanal.
But considering my ego ( If someone else can, I can ) and my need to do crazy things, I decided to go and see what it feels like!
Day1 : 140km from Chennai to Pondicherry
The ride started off beautifully from a school in Chennai that we were going to help build by raising money through the event. It felt really nice to be in a professional cyclist attire with cameras flashing all around!
Karun Chandok, the person who organized this event had ensured that we get enough media attention – NDTV, Local Newspapers and Sports Illustrated magazine 🙂
Indian Express, Chennai
I thought the entire ride was going to be as nice as it started, until after about half an hour later when I found myself alone and separated from the rest of the group. And for the next 4 days it was mostly me, the cycle, the scorching tamil nadu sun, the support cars to give me my energy supplies and villagers screaming at my sight.
I didn’t know it was going to be such a self party !
30km later I hit the first pit stop where I finally caught up with all my buddies. I was thinking of all the reasons I could give for being slow (Stomach upset, not a regualr cyclist, I’m riding a horrible hybrid bike while most of you are on a road bike etc etc) but then I thought to myself :
“Everybody has their own problems and pain. Some people don’t have arms/legs and they still do insane stuff ! It’s about not giving up and having the will to do it even if you are in pain. “
So I decided to just shut up and continue riding.
There is a threshold point after which people start to get tired. Being a newbie cyclist, this happened to me after around 80km on the first day. This is when your body wants to give up, you start to lose energy quickly, you start counting every milestone, and you just want to reach the destination. Basically, this is when you start getting mind fucked. Your body just doesn’t want to do it any more and it starts to put negative thoughts in your head. You start to get grumpy, curse people on the road for cutting you off and you start wondering :
“Why the hell am I even doing this ?”.
Here’s one of those moments. Me and Leslie got so pissed that there was so much more left to ride, we decided to pee on this milestone to take out our frustration 🙂
This is when you are most vulnerable to quitting. And this is when you shouldn’t be quitting. I guess that’s what endurance is. That’s what I thought and kept going until I reached. After reaching I was zonked out of mind. I hadn’t really taken care of my body. I had a stomach upset and a headache and all I could eat was curd rice. (even though a wonderful buffet was arranged for all the riders ).
The next day, I was going to eat well and drink lots of water on the ride.
Lesson from Day1 :
“Your body is like an engine. You’ve got to take care of it and tune it. Then there’s no limit to what it can achieve”
Day2 : 180km from Pondicherry to Madhurai
After the 140km ride, I prepared myself mentally for this one. And I was going to be careful with my intake of fluids and food. You need to give your body clean, good fuel and it performs brilliantly. I kept eating dry fruits continuously, ate bananas, drank water, ate oranges and tied a packet of grapes to my cycle to munch from.
I reached the destination quite late and was again alone most of the ride. But this time I wasn’t tired and I finished quite comfortably compared to the previous day.
I began to sense a pattern here.
Everything is as hard as you make it out to be. A few days before the ride I didn’t think I could do more than 100km. In 2 days, I had finished 320km. And on the second day, even though the distance was much longer, I finished it with relative ease compared to the first day because I was mentally prepared.
This made me realise almost everything is in the mind. During all those times when you feel like quitting, if you push your mind a little harder, the pain just goes away and you can just keep on pushing. And trust me once you go beyond this point, you can do much much more than what you think you are capable off. There is no limit to how much you can go.
So there goes lesson from Day2 :
“Everything is in the mind”
Day3 – 110km from Thanjavur to Karaikudi.
After 2 long rides, this was supposed to be the easiest day and everyone seemed to be laughing about the distance. But surprisingly 2 people quit on this day. Again, I guess it is about mental preparedness. Always be prepared for more ! Because every time, it didn’t really matter what the distance was but the last 10km was really painful. This meant that my mind was prepared for that much distance so every extra mile would seem very painful.
The next time I was not going to hope for anything less. That way I wouldn’t think about the end and I would finish more easily.
Day4 – 76km ride from Madhurai to Kodaikanal (3000m elevation – worth mentioning 🙂 )
By this day, I had learnt a lot and was kind of prepared for anything. So I sped upto the foothills of Kodaikanal and started my climb to the top.
All I could think about was the after party. And to enjoy it completely, I would have to finish it without sitting in the car. I knew one thing. The party in the end is not the same if you quit. There is nothing to party about! And after 3 days of struggling there was no way I was going to quit.
I must confess it was really really hard climbing the steep roads. But after really pushing it from 8 in the morning till 6 30 in the evening, I finally made it to the top without sitting in the support car even once.
All the pain, all the grumpyness magically got converted into a deep sense of satisfaction. And everything felt like it was worth it.
“When you want to achieve something, it could be anything, you reach this time when you think it’s pointless, it’s too hard and it feels like it’s meaningless and you just want to give up and chill out. But this is when you need to keep pushing it. The more you struggle, the sweeter success tastes when you achieve it. And that’s what this ride taught me.”
Original music : Believe by Chemical Brothers.
It was one of those days in office when I was sitting at my desk, looking out of the window and wondering what I was doing with my life? It was my first job after college, I had just entered the ‘Real World’ and was getting paid Rs. 34,000 a month.
To any one else this is a big deal. But at that time, I just didn’t feel I was at the right place. Something deep inside me told me I wasn’t meant to be there. I am sure a lot of you feel the same way after college – Lost and not knowing what to do. That’s where I was.
So I called Kobe that day and said something along these lines :
“Macha I am getting fried with this stupid lifestyle. I need to do something crazy man. Something that’s gonna give me kicks. I can’t take it any more”.
And he tells me :
“Yeah Johnny. Money is not important. Just quit bro and let’s go somewhere.” – of course that’s not true but that’s what he said 🙂
So we decide to go for a Kayaking course in Rishikesh. I was going to exhaust my leaves for the whole year but I didn’t really care at that moment.
Throughout your life people tell you what to do.
They say finish your 10th board exams and then you will be free. You can do what you want after that. Then they say finish 12th, it’s the most important year, after that you’ll get into a good college and then you are free. You enter college, they say do well, just concentrate on studies, leave the rest aside and then you’ll get a good job and then you can do what you want. So you leave everything and just study. Then you get a good job.Then they say do masters you’ll get a better job and earn more money. So you take loan of 40 lacs, get into an ammmmaaazing university, study shit you don’t really care about and then graduate to get an awesome job. Then spend the next 3 years earning money to repay your loan. By that time, congratulations !! You are 27. It’s the perfect age to get married. Soon you’ll have kids and what are you are going to tell your kids ? The same damn thing – Get a degree, get a job, do masters and settle. Why ? Because you don’t know any better !
( Agree it’s not the same for people who are obliged to earn for their families. Respect for you guys. I’m talking about you urban retards who grow up in well off families and are stuck in jobs you hate – I was one of them ! ).
So what happened to that childhood dream of being a rally racer, a footballer, a mountain climber, a runner, a musician ?? Gone !!
So we (Kobe, Vibha and I) decided enough was enough and decided to go to Rishikesh to learn to be kayakers. This was one of the best decisions I have ever taken. And nothing at that moment could have stopped me. I had my own money, a strong will and this deep inner voice that kept saying :
“Get the hell out of here and live your life”.
So we went !!
The course taught us a lot of things. Apart from learning to kayak we learned life skills that we’d never learned in college – Like lighting a fire, cooking our own food and pitching a tent. It taught me to be a better survivor – land and water !
Some people ask me why I need adventure and why can’t I just live a normal life ? They ask me why I would intentionally put myself in danger ?
To them I’d like to say – I’m not directly jumping into a river and trying to kill myself. But I am training to deal with water and learning important skills that will help me survive. These skills also teach me to keep my mind calm and take crucial decisions in unexpected situations.
And once I learn to survive in such situations, all “first world” problems ( like having less money, no job security, relationship issues, etc ) seem small and I can deal with them more easily.
While travelling through those rapids, breathing fresh air, camping by the river with friends, getting stoned, laughing my ass out and just living in the moment, I had a realisation.
I realised this is what I love to do most – Adventure, Travel and Sports. I was going to quit my job and some how balance earning money and doing this at the same time.
I sat in office for the next few months after the trip, planning everyday for an exit strategy. This time I was sure I was quitting. But leaving Rs. 34,000 / month with no backup plan and Rs. 70,000 savings in total is not really an easy thing. But again, I just went for it – Quit my job and I left for Nepal by train on 18th October 2012 (one day after my birthday. Spent my birthday night getting drunk in the railway station waiting in the tatkal queue). And this time there was no return ticket :).
I was going to live the dream of travelling without a return ticket for the first time ever and I was really happy I had nothing to come back to except my family. That way I could be gone for long!
We ended up kayaking for about 17 days in the most beautiful rivers in world, backpacked, got lost, met lots of new people, did the highest swing in the world (video), got my leg operated (video), partied every night and did lots of other crazy shit ! . Cheers to you guys – Vibha, Nisha, Katu and Kobe. I had the best 1.5 months of my life with you guys.
After coming back I had no job and no money in my account. I had to borrow some money from home for the next 2 months until I started my own company called Smashing Pixels. I decided I am going to give everything to this company so that one day it will feed me and my goals.
And today 1 year later, we’ve served over 25 clients and earning enough money to feed us and take care of our travels and gimmicks 🙂
Being broke after Nepal also made me realise the importance of money. I was blinded by my passion. But then I realised I also need money to feed this passion. So here I am today running a business and at the same time ensuring that I get my kicks doing things I love to do – Paddle, Cycle, Travel, Play football, Play the guitar and chill with friends.
Earning a living is very important and kids should learn to stand on their own feet(survive). But it’s definitely not important to get a masters degree in electronics when you actually love to cook.
Starting this web based business has given me the freedom to allocate my time and focus on things I like to do. ( I could just carry my laptop and work from anywhere ). My college never taught me that this was possible. They made me think that GPA, Placements and a tier-1 job was the end of the world. I had to discover it my self that it’s not. And that’s why this blog to share my thoughts with people who have similar feelings.
Following my heart 2 years ago has given me a life time of memories and an opportunity to do all sorts of craaazy things ! So if you’ve got that Gut Feeling now, just go for it !