Sarvesh Agarwal and Sarvesh Poddar gear up for Expedition Ekatva that will take them across the country and bring them face-to-face with people and their problems
From December 7, Sarvesh Agarwal and Sarvesh Poddar will motorcycle across the country for three months, meet people and quiz them about their problems, and finally head to the editing room to weave videos from these interactions into a documentary. The docu-film and an accompanying written document are expected to be presented to NGOs, social scientists, Government bodies and the media in an attempt to resolve the problems.
Ten days before these 22-year-olds will head out of Chennai on Expedition Ekatva, as they call this adventure, and play interviewers, they find themselves staring at a few questions. Here are two interesting ones: Should we get a new bike or turn to our trusty 10-year-old machine, as we have in the past? Can we rely on the mercy of the people we find on the way?
The two hardly are quintessential bikers. Between them, they have just one bike. “Poddar has a 10-year-old Splendor, which has gone with us on many a ride,” says Agarwal. The boys cadge bikes off their relatives and friends and have gone on quite a few expeditions. They have been doing this since their days at St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, where they studied Commerce together. Now Agarwal works as a management trainee at the Chennai office of an energy company and Poddar studies management at IMT, Ghaziabad.
For a trip from Kolkata to Gurudongmar Lake (Sikkim), the boys went on a Unicorn lent to them by a relative of Agarwal’s. A friend gave his Passion for the two to have a circuit ride in Kerala, touching Kumizhi, Munnar, Cochin and Alleppey. When they don’t find a bike-lending guardian angel, they have their very own Splendor to fall back on. “In 2011, we did a memorable ride from Rajgir to Bhagalpur via Bodh Gaya on the Splendor. By the look of things, this bike is with us in this mega expedition. Given the arduousness of the trip, we prefer a cruiser. But we don’t have anyone who is prepared to part with his cruiser for three long months.”
The boys have been putting aside money towards Expedition Ekatva. “In hindsight, that was a great thing to do. Because, we have not succeeded in finding a sponsor. I believe our age went against us. I guess when a team of two 22-year-olds attempts something as big as an all-India ride, people are bound to be reluctant. I would be lying if I said we are not afraid. Beyond the fear of the unknown, we believe there are some people along the way who will help us.”
Holding on to that belief, they have made preparations to leave Chennai on December 7. They take comfort from the fact that Rotary is guiding them on the people and groups to interact with for the project. A.P. Kanna, governor of Rotary District 3230, which covers Chennai, Kanchipuram, Vellore, Tiruvannamalai and Tiruvallur, says, “Rotary districts and clubs across India have been informed about this expedition. They will receive these bikers and help them connect with locals who will help them in their mission.”
“Our route has been planned: we know the cities, towns and villages we will stop at and where we will stay, thanks to Rotary. But we have not organised any gabfests. We have not planned our questions. We will just let the circumstances decide our interactions,” says Agarwal, who adds that they have already written to a few political leaders about the expedition and hope to get help to solve the problems of people they meet en route.
For details, look up Expedition Ekatva on Facebook.