A 20,000 km-long message of appreciation

‘Sandesh for Soldiers’ campaign launched by PM Modi to let Indians post messages of solidarity with soldiers on the eve of Diwali.

‘Sandesh for Soldiers’ campaign launched by PM Modi to let Indians post messages of solidarity with soldiers on the eve of Diwali, solo biker Ravi Varma  has taken an initiative to finish a pan-India journey, which he calls ‘Riding Solo Along Soul’ on his Royal Enfield Himalayan bike

HYDERABAD: The ‘Sandesh for Soldiers’ campaign was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to let Indians post messages of solidarity with soldiers on the eve of Diwali. On the same lines, a solo biker has taken an initiative to finish a pan-India journey, which he calls ‘Riding Solo Along Soul’ on his Royal Enfield Himalayan bike. Express had a chat with the 31-year-old Ravi Verma while he was in city recently:

How did you get the idea of collecting messages for the Indian Army? What is your motive?
One fine day in 2014, I was inspired by watching a documentary on the routine life of Indian Army soldiers serving near Line of Control (LoC). This prompted me to do something for their relentless efforts and sacrifice. That was when the idea of collecting messages while riding a bike struck me. My main motive is to express gratitude to the Indian Army by collecting ‘thank you’ messages from students and people all over the nation and convey it to the jawans.

But you started your expedition this year and not in 2014 or 2015. What is the reason?
I had initially planned for a drive from Jaipur to Leh in August 2015, but had met with an accident during my final preparations for the ride. I suffered multiple ligament ruptures in my right knee. Even though frustrated, I prepared myself mentally during the six-month rest duration in achieving my goal. That is when I made up my mind for an all-India trip.

When did you kick off your expedition and which parts of the country have you been so far?
I started my journey on August 15 from my home town, Jaipur and have covered 19 State capitals and two Union Territories (Northern and North Eastern part) in the span of 75 days. I further plan to cover ten more State capitals, three Union territories and other major cities in South India within the next 60 days.

How was your travelling experience during Diwali?
This was the first time I was away from my family on the eve of Diwali. While we all celebrate the festival with our family and friends, we neglect the fact that we are being protected by our soldiers. I stayed overnight in the parking lot of a petrol bunk 100 kilometers from the city.

Is this the first time you are biking across for a cause?
Earlier, I rode from Jaipur to Goa twice and from Jaipur to Rishikesh once. This is the first 20,000 km-long solo bike ride for a cause. I felt the need to convey our messages by collecting posters, greetings, letters, notes, paintings, videos and presenting them to soldiers stationed at Drass, Kargil and Leh.
What is your profession and from when did the biking fever get into you?
I am a BSc graduate and had worked for a corporate company. However, due to various reasons, I later joined my family’s organic farming business. Biking was my first love since 2012, and I started chasing my dream.

How did you feel after interacting with the students?
Well, it was a surprise as I did not expect such an overwhelming response from the students. I collected a large number of messages and drawings and also recorded their salute to the soldiers. This was the first time that students had gathered around me asking for an autograph.

What is your say on our soldiers?
After the Pathankot and Uri attacks served as an eye-opener for India, I have always prayed for the soldiers. I compare the soldiers to living Gods who are protecting us day and night. I always advise students and youngsters to salute or shake hands and say thank you to any soldier they come across.

What do you intend to do with the 4,000 messages you collected?
the completion of my ride, collections from all-over India will be converted into a documentary and submitted to the Army headquarters in Jaipur. This will be showed at the Army base camps, once permission is granted.

Related Stories

No stories found.

X
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com