India to Egypt

Spread the love

The US visa came through and on the eighth of October, we were flagged off from Bangalore. And all the sponsors had their representatives. We had Dilip Chandak, who is now the Managing Director of Vega Helmets, Boman Irani who was the director of Ideal Jawa India Limited and Mr.Siva Subramanyam from Timex and some more names I am not able to recollect at this time. They all were there to see us off.  Shiraz and Boman Irani flagged us off that day.

[metaslider id=2481 cssclass=””]

It was around this time that Plague hit Surat(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1994_plague_in_India).

All airlines flying out of the country were grounded for fear of an outbreak. That’s where Mr. Cyrus Katgara of Jeena Cargo came to the rescue. We were supported by the Rotary Club of Delhi. He helped us get  tickets on Gulf air, which was the only airline flying out of India, on to Egypt and also assured that he will work with the cargo guys to lift the bike from India to Egypt. So we landed in Egypt, spent time wandering around waiting for the bike to arrive. Our daily stop was to the Cargo Customs Hold of Gulf Air to check on the bike status, and then we were told that the bike is not flying out any time soon since perishables like fruit and vegetables and poultry were given priority to be shipped out of the country. It took a whole 17 days before the bike got airlifted out of the country to reach Egypt by which time all my visas in Europe had started to lapse. And that’s when I reached out to the Indian Ambassador. He quickly spoke to his counterparts in the other embassies and had the Visas extended.

 This delay was unintended. When you plan to tour the world in 60 days and then realize that 17 days have been shot, it’s not a happy thought. I reached out to Boman Irani asked him for his advice on whether I should continue or restart the ride later. He said, just go ahead.

Boman Irani
Mr Boman Rustom Irani, Chairman & MD, Rustomjee Group owns rights to the Yezdi brand.

 I also then connected with the Guinness Book of World Records and they said that the time taken to ride on the road was what was counted and the halts were not. Since the Libyan Visa was cancelled(https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13755445), we had to cover some more distance in Egypt. Little did I realize that  would have an impact on the distance to be covered because just Cairo to Alexandria would not give me 1000 miles. And that’s when I chose to ride down south towards Aswan. As we headed out of Cairo, about 300 kilometers away, we were stopped by a military barricade with a lot of jeeps and security around. And no one spoke English except one media guy who was kind enough to translate to the military police. And for some reason, we were asked to wait so when we waited, we were listening to our Walkman (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walkman). The Military officers were quite intrigued and wanted to listen to what we were listening. When I handed over the headphones, it was Kishore Kumar who was singing Sharaabi  songs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharaabi) and these guys joyfully said Wow, Yemitabh Bachchan.

Amitabh is considered to be a God there and I could see the facial expression change in them when they were listening to these songs and in about an hour’s time one of their seniors came there, we made him also listen to the songs and then we requested the media person to translate our desperate need to reach Aswan and then take the scenic road out towards Cairo and back.  Without any hesitation, he asked us, what speed do you think you can do I said we can do about hundred kilometers at a stretch. And he said you will need to follow my car and there would be another car which will have three or four gunners, and we will take you through the place where there has been a shootout and then we realized the sensitivity of having been stopped at the barricades. So just imagine a VVIP, being led in a convoy for 700 kilometers. These guys took us from the outskirts of Cairo all the way towards Aswan , en route we could see the hostile tension along the road. We saw a burnt bus where tourists were targeted by Sudanese Guerillas.

 We reached a safe point almost in the thick of the night very close to Aswan and due to these wonderful folks without whom we would not have been able to cover the required distance in the country of Egypt. We went to Aswan, came back along the river Nile. It was a scenic route all the way to Alexandria and turned back into Cairo before flying off into Rome. From here on, I made it a point that I am not leaving my motorcycle behind and would always be as an accompanied baggage. Even if there was a premium to be paid, we would. We would still, take it along with us and pay for it as appropriate, and that’s when Alitalia accommodated the bike.