Arvind Prabhakar of IndusRider tells Preeti Zachariah that his motorcycle takes him into a whole new world

“Motorcycles are like chisels, they sculpt out the real character within you. As you ride, inevitably you get dragged into an inner reflective journey, that’s where the vistas lie. Motorcycling for me is freedom on steroids. An accelerated exploration of our worlds. Just like how early man got on to a horse and explored his horizons, we are now astride our metal steeds, pushing our horizons of ignorance,” says Arvind Prabhakar of IndusRider — an organisation that promotes ‘responsible’ motorcycle travel to foster cultural preservation, environmental awareness and social responsibility.

Arvind’s life-long passion for riding has certainly moulded him into the vibrant, remarkable person he is today, “I’m using a motorcycle as a medium to find out more about what’s going on in the country. IndusRider is a motor cycle tour company with a very strong community and social angle to it. We take people to off-beat places and expose them to experiences that help them understand what is really happening at the ground level.”

He admits however, that though he always loved riding motorcycles, it took him some time before he decided to take it up full time. “I had to choose between motor sport and design and at that point motor sport wasn’t an option. So I did design and ran a design and branding company in Bangalore for almost a decade,” he says.

But soon he realised that it was not what he truly wanted to do. So he quit the design space, moved to Goa and started Indusrider with his childhood friend Anand Sankar (who works out of Dehradun), “The idea has always been to use motorcycling as a way to scan the landscape for inspiring stories first. These conversations with communities and the environment then lead to further interaction. The ride and report behaviour is what led to finding these stories of conservation and then to the genesis of this particular project,” he says adding, “I intend to continue exploring the country and finding ways in which motorcycle and rider can connect with this incredible country. It is not merely a tour company. We are functioning as an intervention unit to support environment.”

Talking about one such project — an Otter Ride which takes people on a day-long awareness ride to support Otter conservation in the rivers of Goa, “Smooth-Coated Otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) are a globally-threatened species and are highly protected by the Wildlife Protection Act of India, 1972. The mangroves in Goa are amongst the very few otter habitats left in Asia. Smooth-Coated Otters are apex predators in the riverine ecosystem. Very little is known and understood about their behaviour by scientists around the world. We do know that they require fresh, unpolluted water to survive, and that many of their habitats have been lost. This makes it vitally significant to support efforts to study and protect this fascinating mammal,” he says.

And his design experience continues to hold him in good stead. He has made several documentaries based on what he has seen. “Because I am a designer I find interesting situations where I found myself stories that rejuvenate my faith in what in doing and can be used to share the work that is going on.”

He adds that he wants more people to be part of this experience as he believes that it is an awe-inspiring one, “A ride on a motorcycle is a complete sensory experience. It takes you to another place. Motorcycles are a great way to extend the work of wildlife conservation support and awareness. It attracts attention, creating a gathering with no effort and makes it easier to generate interest. Riders are excited to see new places and experience them on motorcycles. We are hoping to create a sustainable way to keep citizen science engagements active via motorcycling. For IndusRider, the idea is to explore everything that’s the intersection between motorcycle and life.”