When Bella Manoj fell in love with solo travel earlier this year, she decided to use it as a means to prove a point.
Six years after donating one of her kidneys to her husband, Ms. Manoj, a design director at a U.S.-based clothing brand, is on a cross-country motorcycle ride, albeit in stages, to experience the thrill of exploring places and spreading the word about the importance of kidney donation.
“Nothing beats the joy of travelling alone and exploring new places,” says the 50-year-old fashion designer who is currently on the final leg of a tour of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. She has travelled over 12,500 km, covering 13 Indian States and five Union Territories, in two trips she made on her Royal Enfield Bullet 500 in the past six months.
“I have been riding a motorcycle for several years. But never went beyond a certain distance until I rode my bullet to Velankanni in March this year. Later I made a trip to Bengaluru and I immediately realised I have to do this more,” says Ms. Manoj from Punnapra in Alappuzha.
Challenging, but fun
In June, she went on a road trip from Chennai — riding along the western coast, Rajasthan, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir — while travelling all the way to Ladakh. “It was a 30-day trip. After reaching Ladakh I spent a week there exploring places such as Kargil, Leh, Khardung La, Hunder, Pangong Tso, Kharoo and Sarchu. On my return journey, I travelled through North and Central India. Travelling solo is extremely challenging but is fun too, to be nobody but yourself,” says Ms. Manoj, a National Institute of Fashion Technology graduate.
The travel buff says that she faced many queries about her health after she started making long journeys. “I want to prove a person can lead a normal life with one kidney. My husband almost died of kidney failure when I decided, despite his opposition, to donate a kidney. Unfortunately, many kidney patients in our country die unable to find a donor. In my case, I am totally healthy and fine after the surgery. I am sharing my story to inspire others in similar situations,” says Ms. Manoj, who is planning her next trip to northeast India. She has also pledged to donate her body to medical science.
She along with her husband, Manoj Matthan, and their daughter, Ivy Manoj, are settled in Chennai.