The 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 it.

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, Youth 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 decided 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, Rotary, Jaycees and Giants International Clubs, and also from Indian Mountaineering Foundation, 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 companies. 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.
 
Worldwide On Wheels