METRO PLUS

Around the world on a scooter!



Retired Major General R. K. Jain has zipped across the globe on his 100 cc scooter

Two wheeler rides are backbreaking, aren't they? Not for 73-year-old Major General (Retd.) R. K. Jain, who has been zooming around the globe on his 100 cc scooter. He and his scooter have traversed 9,000 km from India to England in 33 days, another 8,000 km towards the other end from India to Australia (the ocean stretches crossed on air, of course) in 38 days, not to mention `short' expeditions like the 1,800 km Delhi-Vaishnodevi or the Delhi-Pune circuits. Currently on a 4,000 km round trip from Delhi to Chennai and back via Nagpur, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai and other places, the sturdy septuagenarian says, "Retirement is not the end of life. In fact, it can be a beginning, a time for the adventure and hobbies we missed during our busy years".Along the way, this retired Army man has sipped tea on the wayside with Pakistanis, motored through conflict-torn countries like Afghanistan, met stingingly cold Siberian winds and got snowed under in Turkey, communicated through sign language in the European countries, got mesmerised by the live beauty of South East Asian culture, the rocky coasts of Australia... "It has been a wonderful experience all along. People everywhere are warm, friendly and generous," he says. The traffic scenario in India appals him. "In all other countries except ours, traffic rules are strictly followed," he says. As for the rules he sets for his expedition, "I motor only during the day, stick to around 300km a day and my exercise regimen — a combination of yoga and joint exercises keeps away back pain," says the still trim old man. A helmet, elbow and knee guards and gloves are a must. "If you drive a two wheeler in or outside the city, you must wear a helmet," he insists, adding, "and don't forget to tie the chin strap, without which the helmet will go flying off your head when you crash." He travels light — a soft luggage with three sets of clothing is all that he carries along on his scooter, plus of course, some first aid, a spare tire, a three-litre can of petrol and the National Flag that he has stuck near his scooter's speedometer.

Passion for flying

The spirit of adventure is something he has lived by all his life. His Army attachment apart, this retired major general has a passion for flying. He has a private pilot's licence on small aircraft and has clocked 200 hours of flying. But what inspires him to hazard such long and tedious two-wheeler rides at this age? He says, "I want to inspire senior citizens and the youth alike on the spirit of adventure. Embarking on adventures develops an attitude in us that can help us face the odds and overcome any problem in life. I go by what Field Marshal Manekshaw used to say — look at situations as challenges, not problems." So, does he carry any message on his scooter? None. Well. The still zestful 73-year-old man zipping solo on a motor scooter speaks louder than any message.HEMA VIJAY

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