Having got the nod from our parents, we began preparations with single-minded devotion. The will-do attitude had to be merged with the can-do pragmatism. Apart from gathering a lot of general information relating to the trip, we had to work on sponsorship possibilities and finding other sources of funding, and also a sensible road-map, which involved the task of getting visas.
We shot off letters to embassies telling them about our tour and requesting them to send us all important information about their country, particularly visa requirements. Many of them wrote back with brochures. Response from the Australian embassy, in particular, emphasized the need to be financially adequately equipped. This set us thinking more seriously than ever about finding the monetary resources. However, what we were most concerned about was how we were going to set off and from where. In order to explore options quickly and learn things firsthand, we went to New Delhi and dropped in at the various embassies.
Leaving India by road proved impossible
What with Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, an issue over which many countries registered their protest by boycotting the 1980 Moscow Olympics, and Iran-Iraq war, all possible road routes were virtually sealed. Besides, at the Soviet embassy we learnt that we were not going to be able to visit Moscow for the Olympics, the reason being that, despite the boycott, all rooms had been booked and there was absolutely no accommodation left. This was a double surprise – no leaving India by road and no Olympics!!
But we said to ourselves that we would indeed find another way. As I think of those times, even now I feel that the ONE FACTOR that kept us going was our determination to do it. We simply swept aside anything that resembled a hurdle. Funnily, we were so delightfully and blithely engaged and lost in the idea that we never speculated even for a moment on the likelihood of the idea not taking shape. Call it faith, indomitable spirit, pluck or perhaps innocence accompanied by a refusal to admit the concept of impossibility, most likely a combination of all those things. How else could I describe the cheer and optimism with which we continued with our preparations, while remaining totally clueless as to finding an alternative way of taking off and the funds and all else vital to the tour?
Luck, Encouragement from Good People, Breakthrough
Our zest to share the Bike Tour idea and our natural desire for making friends kept bringing us luck right through the tour. At the time of applying for our passports we became friends with some good people – people holding offices with the Youth Hostels Association and in the Education Department of the Tamilnadu State Government. The support and encouragement from some of them and many others at various stages of the tour was so big and crucial that things became so much easier for us.
Did we manage a breakthrough in the matter of our departure from India? Did we pull off something spectacular? Did we make any headway in the fund-raising department? I shall come back to you with the story in detail. Soon.