Travel

A journey of self-discovery

the call of the road Rohith Subramanian Photo: Special arrangement

the call of the road Rohith Subramanian Photo: Special arrangement   | Photo Credit: Rohith Subramanian

Rohith Subramanian, also known as the Lone Wanderer, is a travel blogger who has embarked on a motorcycle journey that will last a year-and-a-half, cover one lakh kilometres, touch 46 countries across Asia and Europe and be documented on social media. He talks to HAFSA FATHIMA about what drives him

It started when I was young. My dad had this bike called a Rajdoot, and it had the greatest influence on me when I was growing up. I started travelling alone as a kid; I would hop on to a random bus and go to Tiruchi, stay there for a couple of days and then make my way back home.

On another trip, I was in Leh, and I worked for a man who would rent out motorbikes. He ended up giving me one, along with some food and money, and told me to travel around the area for a few days. The urge to wander and explore the world was solidified, and I knew I was going to do it on a motorbike.

My greatest fear has always been living a monotonous life. I didn’t want to take short trips where I returned home to a normal life on Monday mornings; it had to be a lifestyle. I realised that when I looked back at my life, I wanted to be able to have a story to tell myself and others.

Right now, I’m in the middle of travelling 46 countries, spanning Asia and Europe, starting with India. No matter which State I’m in, I don’t stay in hotels. I stay in the homes of the people I’ve met on the road or on social media. If I don’t find one, I sleep in bus stops, petrol bunks or police stations. It’s a very nomadic way to live, but it’s also about staying grounded and humble. It’s been more than 50 days, and I’ve been lucky enough to find a shelter every night, from tea stalls to homes.

When I was younger, I dreamt of being so many things: a farmer, a waiter, a newspaper boy. This trip gave me the chance to be all of those things. I decided to pick up a different job in every State that I was in, whether it was a for a day or a month.

In Kerala, I laid tar roads, in Karnataka I was a chaiwallah, in Goa I was a bartender, and in Maharashtra, a vada pav vendor. I’ve met hundreds of people from different cultures, who speak different languages, but communication has never been a problem for me. Apart from English, I speak Tamil, Hindi and a little French, so that gets me by in most places. Language isn’t the only way for you to communicate; I’ve always believed you can tell a story without using words. When you meet someone who you know you may not see the next day, the conversations you have become more special. It’s not always easy and the demands of a life on the road can take its toll.

I’m on the road for more than seven hours a day and I don’t stop for breakfast or lunch, keeping myself fuelled with water. My weight was fluctuating when I started, and I had to work to get it under control. My back aches to the point where I’m worried if it’s not aching when I wake up. As the journey has progressed, I have become more introspective. I’ve realised that this is also a quest of self-realisation.

It’s funny, because when you’re growing up, your family keeps warning you about the danger of strangers. Now, I’m living a life where these strangers have become my family, and I’m proud to say that in every city or State that I’ve lived in, I have a place and people to call my own. I remember a man from Kerala who found out that I had had nothing to eat since morning. He rushed to eight different restaurants and brought me back food. It’s amazing that you can find unconditional love and kindness from people who barely know you and owe you nothing.

I wouldn’t say I have an end goal in mind, but that’s the beauty of this journey. I know that one day it will end, but I don’t know where and when, and that’s what makes it all the more interesting.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 3:20:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/A-journey-of-self-discovery/article14644793.ece

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