No Country Man is an unputdownable book. Like its 34-year-old biker author, Kedarnath GM, on a 350cc Royal Enfield, it races through with unpredictability and surprises. We met the unassuming young author Kedarnath GM from Hubli, Karnataka, who is now investing his PF (provident fund) and gratuity savings to fund an even bigger expedition across the world.
“My last trip was across 13 nations that included Iran, Turkey, Belgium, Germany, Spain and most of Eastern Europe. I rode 18,000 km across geographies and diverse climates from September 2013 to February 2014. My biggest challenge was weathering the biting cold and snow in Europe, where the temperature was as low as -10 degrees centigrade. It was a huge shock for a south Indian who spent most of his 30 years in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in temperatures ranging from 15 degrees to 40 degrees Centigrade.”
The sprightly built Kedarnath is a mechanical engineer from VTU Belgaum in Karnataka who graduated in 2006 and joined JSW at Hubli. He worked over a decade with the steel maker, leading a relatively sedentary life. “The place is so beautiful, picturesque and free from pollution that I never thought of leaving such a comfortable life. My office was just a 7 minutes walk from home and I could come home everyday for my lunch.”
The Three Expeditions
When asked how he took to long-distance biking, Kedarnath said it was something that evolved over a period. He learnt biking late, at the age of 28, and his first long-distance trip was from Hampi to Leh in Ladak in 2012. “It was a 39-day trip of 8,000 km where I came to discover my love for the road, the people and the cultures.” The second trip a year later across Europe was a preparatory trip for a larger worldwide tour.
Kedarnath has now started his third and most ambitious expedition. He started off last month from Chennai and hopes to cover 300,000 km this time in a span of four years across five continents. While spares and consumables are sponsored by Royal Enfield most of the other expenses are self-funded. “My mission is to erase divisions across the world, the boundaries of religion, race, language, colour and physical check posts. I have already met and spoken to 4,000 schoolchildren about my mission. I believe that I can spread the message of equality and brotherhood and existence in border-less world. My aim is to educate the next generation to reduce physical borders” says the young visionary.
A Travel Story and a Life Philosophy
No Country Man is a fast-moving travel story of a rider who rides across continents. It is a first-hand encounter with people of diverse cultures with whom Kedarnath connects but often cannot converse. One day he is in Iran, the next few days he moves through Turkey to Bulgaria and beyond. From the warmth of Tabriz to the biting cold of Bucharest, he recounts his experiences with candor and honesty of a youthful traveller.
The uncertainty of finding a bed and the home of one of his many hosts as he struggles through miles of unknown territory in the cold and dank small towns of Europe is hair-raising. A traveller who uses couch-surfing to find beds and food and encounters harsh winter meets some of the very ordinary people with most amazing stories. When he finds women or men in a depressed condition he gives his simple advice – which is like a profound philosophy for happiness. Without delving too much on the nitty gritty, he shows great vision clarity as he talks about his way of living happily.
Kedarnath has no girlfriend. As he meets many young women, few of them through couch-surfing and others by chance he seizes every opportunity to befriend them. He even fantasizes about some of them, and gives an honest but amateur account of his feelings. There is an earthy scent of the rustic in his writings that can only be found in self-published books that do not go through the sophisticated scissors of an experienced publishing house. The book is sold by Notion Press and is available in 30,000 stores across the globe.