May 29, 2007

Roadrunner

As a ten-year old, I remember seeing my uncle and his buddy go on a world motorcycle tour. It was in the early 80s, still the dark ages — information-wise. Armed with outdated roadmaps, a couple of ugly fur coats and a raw engine, they set out. No reservations, no contacts, no automotive associations, no credit cards, no nothing. Frighteningly brave, bordering on being suicidal. They did it in their own unique way, apparently, without spilling much (of the presumably horrific) details; it was a quiet affair when they finally did return home. I guess, it was an experience that turned them from boys to men. They did reveal that their bike was the first to give-up. In less than a couple of thousand kilometers, they were without their prized possession.

To imagine yourself, and then the entire town that saw you on such an adventurous voyage with great pomp and hope. It must have been a moment in their lives. They managed to get hold of a liquid cooled 0.5L engine by paying with all they had and continued. Working night-shifts, serving in restaurants, wiping grease, windshields at stations, and I don’t know what else. I never got the full story; part truth, part legend. But I digress. As the Chinese say, “May you live in interesting times.”

If you’re a die-hard roadrunner today, and you have some long-distance driving experience, then you’ll probably enjoy driving within Europe.1 To us, it has so far been the most unique way of discovering. The catalyst of course has been the availability of consumer technology, never seen before. This unique blend of SatNav technology, the availability of information online, the ability to do bookings etc., allows one to plan trips sensibly.

Borders? No problem. Thanks to the congregation of EU, the no-checkpoint borders are now a reality. Being on the road, on your own, allows you to have the privilege of discovering the unknown and the unmapped. That’s an idea fascinating enough to take the plunge. Armed with information and modern technology today, there is far less room for moments in life gripping you the wrong way.


  1. Travel by train (breathtaking routes, ground-breaking speeds, no doubt) or by flight (boring check-ins and monotonous journeys guaranteed) only let you enjoy your start point and your destination. But, not much else in-between.