The Adventurous Solo Bike Traveller
Text: Lusna Shereef
‘The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page’
Lakshmi ML, a 29-year-old from Kalpathi Agrahara, Palakkad, travelled alone onher Bajaj Pulsar bike to make an attempt to read the world as book and she did her first long journey triumphantly. successfully. Riding solo from Kerala to Manali, Leh, Ladakh to Kardung La Paz and then to Kashmir, her adventurous journey was through ravines, hailstorms and heavy snow. Her videos of her sharing her experiences as a solo traveller are going viral and is an inspiration to each and every travel enthusiast not only in Kerala, but in other parts of India and the world too. ‘There are still people who think that, if is it possible for a girl to travel alone on her bike?’, Lakshmi said, speaking to Kerala Travel Explorer.
I am Lakshmi, a native of Kalpathi, a village in Palakkad district. I was born and raised in a place where Brahmins lived by following rituals and customs with a highly orthodox perspective. So they have always tried to raise me as a disciplined child. But, ever since my childhood, I have been a kind of rebel. I have only a blurred memory of going to the temple with my friends in silk skirts on particular occasions and that’s the only moment I could make others feel that I am also a child with much discipline. As every child who is born to such a village, my childhood was also limited to that village, in the sense – I led a very cloistered life. But, ever since I began to watch Television, read newspapers and learn about the world outside from books, my curiosity began to grow and got rooted as my first line of passion. I wanted to go each of these places I had heard about, and experience new things.
“Ever since I began to watch Television, read newspapers and learn about the world outside from books, my curiosity began to grow and got rooted as my first line of passion. I wanted to go each of these places I had heard about, and experience new things.”
Initially I didn’t have a plan to go solo. We friends actually planned together to go for a ride. Like in many recent trolls and web series shown, it would be 10 to 15 people during pre-planning, then it will be reduced to 5 to 8 during planning and at last it will be just one, and so was mine. But as I said earlier, many of them who grew up in very orthodox surroundings
needed parental consent to get out of their house. In my house the things were a ittle different, and I didn’t have to face any problems of parental consent. My father held a belief that I would return to home safely wherever I went. I lost my mother when I was 5 years old. My inspiration for this travel is my grandmother, who always stood by me. Sadly, she is no more now. I was disappointed when my friends didn’t get consent from their parents. But, I was never ready to quit my dream. So I decided to go solo. Once I started my solo trip, I really enjoyed it. Now I prefer going solo, because it surely changes your usual ways of looking around and experiencing the wonders out there. This is not my first solo trip. I have made many solo trips earlier too and have almost covered most parts of south India.
Look before you leap
Usually I don’t make any plans for short trips. I always find spots through google map and go out for the trip, but even google map has let me down many times. But this K to K ride of mine was well planned and so worked out nicely for me. I studied my route to Kashmir very well. My luggage was average in size and weight, which is always my preferred way of packing luggage. Talking about safety concerns, I had decided not to ride during nights. I always kept a pepper spray with me and was always in my full riding gear, making it difficult for anyone to recognise me as a girl. And, before someone figured out that, I would have passed them. But, at times riding on lonely stretches I did experience fear and at places I lied that I had my brothers following me. But, on the other hand, many were inspired too, because the rider was a girl. I received many positive responses and all kinds of help even without asking.
My bread and butter
As I said, everything was pre-planned. I was much concerned about the financial part of this trip. To be honest, I did not have any sponsors to take care of my expenses. For making this long journey successful, I searched hard for a good job that could help me to meet expenses during the travelling and after. I believe that, if you do something with determination, no doubt you can achieve the same. Fortunately, I found a comfortable, freelance and flexible job with an US company as a Team Lead in their customer service department, which let me chase my dreams. I started my trip with the funds earned through this job. In addition, at the start of my journey, my father also gave me a small amount of Rs 3000. I also took my laptop with me, and whenever I got internet facility I stopped to do my work. My father is actually the greatest support system of mine who actually pumps up my mental strength.
It was only after this long journey I realised that the main purpose of my life is to travel the world to explore hitherto unseen places. There is a famous saying in Malayalam that, even a dumb can speak when he/she starts travelling. The benefits of traveling are not just a one-time thing, traveling changes you physically and psychologically. Having little time or money isn&t a valid excuse. You can fly for cheap very easily . If you have a full-time job and a family, you can still travel on the weekends or holidays. Work hard and go for your passion.
The other passion
My other passion is cinema. I was rejected many times due to my dark skin tone. But, I didn’t give up. I have been trying hard for a chance in cinema since the last eight years and recently I have done a small role in a movie titled ‘Kalikkoottukaran’. My upcoming projects are both in Malayalam and Tamil.
Tips for the travellers
Planning is an important thing. Without a proper planning no one can do anything better, especially a long trip. You have to study your proposed route in as many ways as possible, including locating the best places to stay safe and eat to stay healthy. Keep yourself healthy throughout the travelling will surely give you better experience. I used to find some warm up activities for keeping myself healthy before I started my trips every day. If you are a girl, it is better to take safety measures like keeping pepper spray with you. And, no matter whether you are going on an overnight jaunt or a month-long international journey, it is always a good idea to let friends or family know about your where abouts.
“It was only after this long journey I realised that the main purpose of my life is to travel the world to explore the new. The benefits of traveling are not just a one-time thing, traveling changes you physically and psychologically.”