first week of May 1984 will see the realization of what but
a dream only a shade less than a year ago. We shall be moving
off on a Rajdoot 350 C.C. motorcycle
to meet the wide, wide world.
It seems another time when we first hit upon the idea
of the World Tour on motorcycle in June 1983 while having
tea with friends in one of the “ Dhabbas” in Plate
Mill complex of Bhilai Steel Plant. Unlike many other such
brain waves, this one some how caught on. The more we thought
upon it, the more it appeared feasible, and the more we liked
We made Sunil’s home
– Qtr. 10A, Russian Block, Sector 6, Bhilai as project
office. We started off by making a huge list of companies
who we thought might be interested in associating their names
with our project by sponsoring it, and we dashed off letters
to them. We also got hold of a Batholomew World Map showing
the international highway, and using a thread and ruler to
calculate approximate distances, came up with our Itinerary
that also intended the Los Angeles Olympic Games.
In July 1983, Sunil Thawani went off to Delhi on a ‘probing’
mission. We were so enthusiastic initially that we expected
everyone to be equally so, but in Delhi, Thawani had the first
inklings that organizing the tour was not going to be exactly
a cake walk. However, he had a reasonably good response from
Escorts and a couple of other companies and also got detailed
information on the host of Government formalities to be gone
through. He also found an enthusiastic man from Escorts, A.K.
Markan, who we accepted as third member of our venture.
So we approached our respective parties with our plans, and
expectedly, they voiced their reservations initially. However,
on seeing us so determined and enthusiastic, they, displayed
unfathomable understanding, and their encouragement at all
stages was instrumental in our success in organizing our venture.
On the look out for two more young men to join us, however
we were disappointed with no one wanting to go off with us
on a venture open to such uncertainties and risks.
The wheels of organizing the project set in motion and the
initial spadework done, we now approached the respective Head
of our Departments - Mr. V.M.S.Namdoodri, Head of Industrial
Engineering (Sunil’s HOD) and Mr. Banerji for the all-important
permission for leave during our tour. We immediately got full
cooperation and encouragement, and our application was forwarded
to our esteemed Managing Director Shri N.K. Mitra. We met
him on 28th July 1983 fully prepared with our hearts thumping
because we knew the future of our project depended totally
on this meeting. The moment he
nodded his approval
, our hearts leapt with triumph, we
had so magnanimously been given the opportunity
to realize our decisions
, now it was upto us to make the
best of it!
By now the incoming mail to 10A, Russian Blocks, Sector-6,
our office’ comprised of depressingly large percentage
of regret letters, to the appeals to various companies we
had earlier. We were now convinced that mere letter-writing
wouldn’t do the trick, so in September Guha left for
Bombay, armed with references. The initial talks with Shipping
Corporation of India, Scindia Steam ship Navigation Co. and
Air India met with only limited success. However, some companies
promised financial support. Guha also returned with invaluable
information from Western
India Automobile Association
Hostel Association of India
Next we applied to the Department of Sports, Government of
India for official clearance of our venture and release of
required foreign exchange under the promotion of Adventure
Scheme and visa
note from Ministry of External Affairs
. Our application
was most graciously forwarded by Shri
S.P. Dubey, Collector, Durg
. Finally, we got our clearance,
but unfortunately due to some personal problem Markan backed
out of the tour. Thawani also got invaluable tips from Mr.
Meher Moos, Air India, the famous Indian Traveller who’s
been to almost all parts of the world.
Guha now headed east to Calcutta, where he met with a very
good response from some companies, especially TISCO, who assured
all help. He also met with Mr. Mihir Sen the first Indian
to swim the English Channel, and was assured all cooperation
from his esteemed Explorer’s Club of India
Guha also got practical tips in Durgapur from members of the
Euro-Asian Friendship Rally ’79 to London.
The Bhilai Adventurer’s Club
to bring out Souvenir on the occasion of the World Tour and
help us with the proceeds.
The pace of working had now risen to a feverish pitch, and
our respective departments were extremely understanding in
granting us frequent leave. Thawani was again off to Bombay
and this time was very successful. The
Shipping Corporation of India
in the spirit of things,
agreed to help us with a free passage from Bombay to Port
Suez, Air India
offered us two free London
– New York tickets. We also got substantial contribution
from Gannon Dunkerley, WMI Cranes etc.
Meanwhile, Guha was jetsetting around South India. Due to
the lack of good response from Ideal Jawa and Enfield India,
we finally decided on the Rajdoot Yamaha 350 C.C. as our motorcycle.
After a final trip to Calcutta, we decided to call halt and
take stock of the situation.
We had letters of introduction from the Lions
Jaycees and Giants
, and also from Indian
, Explorer’s club of India
and the Indian
Red Cross Society
. We also had a lot of contacts abroad,
given by our friends and acquaintances, and various
. We also had raised finances which, with a bit
of tight fisted manipulating, could see us through the year.
With Visas being the only major formality left, Thawani again
left for Delhi, to take the things. On 5-4-84, he brought
from Escorts a gleaming new silver
grey Rajdoot 350 C.C
. motorcycle to be our most trusted
companion and friend for the next one year.