My first stop was back to Delhi to meet the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, met him on the 21st of August 1988. The last time I had met him was on the second of August 1988. I was trying to get hold of connect would take me to meet the Prime Minister for a one on one but then unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. I found myself standing among a bunch of boys representing cricket and football at the state level. These meetings were mostly a meet and greet event where the Prime Minister would come shake hands, pose for a photo and move on.
I separated from the group and hoped to talk about my expedition and seek his support.
When he came near me, he said “Mr. Kamath, How can we help you this time?”
This was shocking to me since he had met me for a short while more than a year back and he would have met thousands of people in the interim. It took me a moment to recover; I wished him on his birthday, belated, told him about my expedition and asked if he could help. He called Captain Satish Sharma, who was the Minister for aviation in those days, and he said, “Inka jo hai dekhiye aur karvadijiye”, and he moved on after a quick picture.
Captain Satish Sharma connected me with Mr. Yogeshwar were who was the managing director of Air India in those days and he connected me to his marketing team and issued open ended tickets.
That effectively meant that, any sector Air India flew, our tickets were taken care of.
The first ticketing was done between Bombay and Kenya, Nairobi. Vijayanagar Rotary Club district 319 came by and sponsored a cycle and flagged me off in front of Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore,It was a very momentous thing for me with lots of people, family and friends gathering right at the steps of Vidhana Soudha seeing us off to Bombay. We cycled Bangalore to Bombay and met up with the Air India folks and packed our cycles and off we were flying to Kenya. We cycled into Nairobi, met with people we had connected with, stayed with them. As we entered the city of Nairobi, on the outskirts, we stopped by what looked like a decent roadside shack. We went in and asked him what is available. Language was a definite problem. Our Swahili was nonexistent. We were able to get some chicken and rice. Realized Nagaraj is a vegetarian. He ended up going hungry. We went around Nairobi and Mombasa. When we came back to Nairobi, on our way to Sudan, we realized that Sudan has closed borders, and we cannot actually ride through Sudan because of the guerilla problem there. Nagaraj, by then, could not manage since he hardly got vegetarian food. He decided to head back to India.
I decided to carry on alone.