On a mountain peak hidden by cotton candy clouds, sits a man next to his bike, gazing at the beautiful skyline, in solitary reverie. His worries seem a million miles away, No one to talk to in that moment. No interruptions, no inhibitions. Disconnected, yet so complete. Enjoying his own company.
In a world where most people are scared to spend time with themselves, we have people like Prasanjit Kumar who attain nirvana by taking solo trips. Prasanjit is a Company Secretary by profession and a traveller at heart. His travel blog, ‘Behind The Handlebar’ documents his trips all around the country and is a visual treat for travel enthusiasts.
Meet The Man
After quitting his job in 2014, Prasanjit started his own practice to spend more time on his travels. Ever since, he has travelled around 1.80 lakh kilometers on his Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500. His love for travelling goes way back to 2009, when he first got his bike. “I feel I was always a wanderer habituated to break through anything that held me back but I discovered this in the true sense after I got my first motorcycle as a gift at the age of 20. Every penny I ever earned was invested in buying fuel or maintaining my motorcycle just because I loved the fact that this thing takes me places. So I believe my love for travelling was inherent and existed since my birth. It just got intense after I got my motorcycle.,” he said.
Behind The Handlebar
One year later after Prasanjit quit his job, in 2015, he decided to unleash his wanderlust on one of his longest solo motorcycle tour. “The trip was for a span of 51 days and I rode throughout the country’s periphery. I was blogging about my travels daily on my personal profile on Facebook and many people advised me to start my own blog to document the information and stories I was sharing,” explained Prasanjit. When we asked him about why he named his blog, ‘Behind The Handlebar’, he said, “I thought about this name staring at the Himalayas while I was seated behind the handlebar of my bike and enjoying the best view of my life. For me, the best things in life have happened with me being seated behind the handlebar, hence the name.”
Every traveller has a different take on travelling solo. While some might love it, some don’t. For Prasanjit, he finds solo trips liberating. He is a member of Wolfepack, a pan-India motorcycle club, and has spent a lot of time travelling in groups. It was only after a few group trips, he gained confidence for his first solo trip back in 2011. “The best plan to have on solo trips is to have no plans at all and that is exactly what I always wanted to do. I interact more freely with the people who speak to me after seeing me alone with a loaded motorcycle. I’ve made friends all over the country who have either given me food, shelter or any help required during my trips at that particular place. I have stayed with Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Tribals irrespective of their social status and background. The friends I made with people on my journeys are still close to me.”
Prasanjit believes that during your solo trips, you choose your own adventure without having to worry about anyone’s convenience. “I am at a stage where I would only go on trips with people who match my wavelength or travel the way I travel,” he further explained.
Camping At Minus 10 Degrees
Believe it or not, Prasanjit’s recent trip was to Sangla where he camped at minus 10 degrees and that too all by himself. “I had never camped in subzero temperatures and I got that opportunity on my recent 35-day trip to Himachal and Kashmir. I was at Sangla around 4:30 in the evening and there was still some time left for the day to end. I found a backpackers’ homestay called Roojoom Homestay but it was closed for the season. I went inside the premises but didn’t find anyone. While I was coming out of the compound, a Bolero stopped outside the gate with two men inside and the driver asked me with a smile, ‘Kya hua?’ I said, I am a biker from Mumbai looking for a place to camp and wanted permission to camp here. He gave me a surprise look and asked, ‘Pagal ho kya? Abhi temperature minus 2 hai aur raat ko minus 10 tak jayega, mar jaaoge…’ I gave him a smile back and said, “Mai sambhal lunga sirji, bas mujhe tent daalne ki jagah dedo…”
Prasanjit believes India is a country that cannot be explored in a lifetime. His ultimate goal is to keep travelling all his life without having a specific place to be called home. He’s all set to hit the road…are you?