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RoadShaman

Travel | Motorcycles | India

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royal enfield

Never stop wondering, never stop wandering

Hi, my name is Tanveer Taj and travelling is my passion.
As clichéd & vague as that sounds, to really understand what led me to this & what truly drives it, we need to jump back a few steps.
Being brought up in Muscat, I always wanted to come back & explore my motherland.
Finally, in 2008 I moved to Pune for higher studies. I started exploring places around the city, but it wasn’t long before I realized I needed some wheels to get around. I picked up an old second hand Yamaha and after that there was no looking back. I found myself heading to the nearby hills & forest almost every weekend. It started with short trips outskirts of Pune, then extended to Kolhapur, Bhimashankar, Nashik, Mahabaleshwar and so on. I started loving the freedom that I experienced on the motorcycle and the peace of mind I had amidst nature. I knew I was addicted.

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In 2010, I bought a Royal Enfield & with an upgrade in motorcycle, came an upgrade in destinations. By 2012, I had started doing trips to Goa, Karnataka and other close by places. In 2014 I went on an epic motorcycle trip from Delhi to Chennai via the east coast of India covering 28 cities across 8 states in 34 days. I obviously couldn’t get leaves for such a long trip so I had to quit my job. It was a scary decision, but I took it anyway and it was for the best. I got back from the trip, started freelancing for a few months before joining another advertising agency. About a year later, I quit my job again and did a solo trip to the Himalayas. Why I did that, is a story for another day.

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Because I was travelling a lot, I started writing about my experiences & documenting my journeys on my GoPro. I started sharing them on social platforms and got fairly popular among my friends & fellow travellers. This is when I started my own website – http://www.roadshaman.com. I upload all my travel stories, pictures & videos here.

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So yeah, that was my story. Coming back to my passion; what really drives me to quit jobs, spend all my savings, fight with my parents/friends to go on these trips? The answer is simple –

1) The Zen: This is the obvious one. Almost all my life decisions have been taken while riding on an open road in the middle of nowhere. All my worries take a back seat & I am actually at peace with myself when I am on my motorcycle. The long rides give me ample time to think about everything that matters in a more relaxed state.

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2) The People: We live in a terrible world. You hear about people killing each other and destroying the planet on a daily basis. Traveling has put me in touch with the good side of humanity. I have been astounded by the friendliness and compassion shown to me by people who didn’t know me and had no reason to help me. I think one needs to experience this ‘niceness’ to stay positive & restore their faith in this mad world.

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3) The Culture: Travelling gives me a chance to experience various cultures which I never knew existed. It’s amazing how diverse everything in India is, be it people, culture, faiths, dialects, languages, food, weather, geography, EVERYTHING! You have to experience it to believe it. We live in such a beautiful country & I feel we should explore our own backyard before moving out.

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4) The Rush: Be it riding solo in the Himalayas with no one around for miles at end, or riding at night in the core Naxalite forest area in Jharkhand, or being stuck in a random town for 3 days because of storm warning, you know these situations can be fatal, but you experience a certain rush that keeps you going. And of course, you emerge out of it with one heck of a story!

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5) The dilly-dally: Quite opposite of the previous point, travel also has the power to slow time down. Every once in a while we need to step out of our air-conditioned cages and just breathe, take time to watch the sunset or just walk aimlessly in a forest to truly value the magical world we live in. We are caught up with so many things at once that we tend to ignore what’s around us.

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People often ask how travel has changed me. If I look back at who I was before I began travelling and compare that to who I am now, I would have to say that travel has made me a better and more well-rounded person. I think travel makes everybody a more awesome person.
I truly, honestly believe if everyone travelled more we’d be in a much better place. People would be happier, we’d understand each other better, we’d be less materialistic and we’d learn to simply enjoy life.
Love is contagious. I want to share my love & passion with everyone & hopefully inspire them to go out. Travel simply teaches you how to be happy and the world could use some happy people 🙂

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Green Rush – Monsoon Ride to Madhe Ghats (Video)

The road is eternal and the wind is constant… let’s ride!

Weekend ride to Madhe Ghats with Rotrods.

Riding Solo to The Himalayas

Wow, so you’re finally going Ladakh, that’s amazing! You must be thrilled!

Of course I am!

So, you’re all set?

Yup, leaves applied, bags packed, motorcycle en route Delhi, all set!

Oh awesome, so how many of your group members are riding?

Uhh, it’s just me 🙂

What?! Are you crazy?! Why are you going alone?

I had this conversation with almost all my friends before heading to the Himalayas. Even I didn’t have an answer to it at that moment, but now I do.

I just got back from a 20 day trip to the Himalayas. Me and a few other friends were planning to go to Leh Ladakh for almost 2 years, but it never happened. In June 2015, I packed my bags and decided to do this trip on my own.

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All set! En route Shimla (Delhi – Chandigarh Highway)

There was nothing really planned, I just knew I had to ride North.

I have done quite a few motorcycle trips across India, but this was my first time in the Himalayas. It’s a whole new experience altogether & riding solo was a bit scary because I was not used to these terrains. The slopes are much steeper than usual, the curves on the mountains are slippery and there is actually no road, just mud, slush, gravel and broken tar.

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Extremely bad roads in Koksar, but the scenic beauty makes up for it
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Tar, cement, water, ice, mud. Calling anything & everything under the wheels, road

Traveling solo is exhilarating and humbling at the same time.

When you find yourself in the middle of Lahaul Valley, with no civilization for miles at end, no human contact, no network, you are alone with your thoughts. And it’s not a bad thing. The long deep silence, involuntarily gets filled by the voices only for you to hear loud and clear.

But yeah, sometimes you do feel like sharing the beautiful view with someone and sometimes you really need someone to pinch your arm in assurance that you are not dreaming. It takes a moment, for eyes to take in something so majestic and grand. It takes a while for the brain to process what the you are seeing. Clouds so close, sky so blue, silence you can hear, breeze you can see, and air so pure it feels like you are drinking water!

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Sat here for a while, it’s not often that we stand amidst sight that our eyes cannot contain.
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In this world there is a lot of beauty and there is a lot of pain, and both are worth crying over
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Ji Ba tara Pahad (Long live these mountains)

Right after Koksar checkpost, the amount of tourists start reducing and everything around looks straight out of a painting. I had to tell myself over and over again not to keep stopping, as I had to cover distance. But I just couldn’t resist myself, and ended up clicking a lot of pictures. To be honest, I was also really scared that my engine would die any moment because of the low oxygen levels and the cold weather, so whenever I would stop, I always kept the motorcycle running & never shut my ignition.

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White overdose at Baralacha La
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Too cold to smile

So, getting back to the question that I started with. I still don’t know why I did a trip on my own, but I do realize now that sometimes, we need some time off from everything and everyone we know to truly value them. We are so used to sitting in our air-conditioned cages and cribbing about everything that life throws at us. We often take a lot of things (and people) for granted. Now, I’m grateful for the roof I have over my head, the food I have to eat and the fact that I’m alive, healthy and living my dream.

There’s nothing quite like travel to show you what you had before you left
– Dan Vineberg

Here’s the video of the trip that I shot on my GoPro. Hope you guys like it 🙂

Meet Pegasus

She’s a firecracker. She’s an incorrigible teenager, but also has tendency to be a sassy old lady at times. An attention seeker, she is loud and demanding, determined and loyal, obstinate and argumentative. But most importantly she is adventurous and always up for the challenge.

With every mile under your wheel, the more close to you I feel.

50,000 km and still going strong. Here’s to many more to come 🙂

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“The first time you ride an Enfield, you are fucked for life!”

Unlike many other Royal Enfield enthusiasts, the first time I rode an Enfield was when I was in 11th grade. The memory is still fresh in my mind; I was anxious and didn’t want to show my friend as he trusted me with the beast. It took 5 whole minutes and around 10 kicks to bring the engine to life. I shifted to first gear and there was no looking back…

Often referred to as an ‘Organic’ motorcycle by loyalists, Royal Enfield is well known for its legacy and history. The Bullet, a 1948 model of the Royal Enfield, has the longest production run of any motorcycle in the world. The Indian Army has been using this motorcycle for over 50 years in the harshest terrains, what more credibility can one asks for?

In a country like India where every corner seems to manifest an astonishing new aspect of the unpredictable kaleidoscopic wonders, no other motorcycle allows for a greater interaction with the surroundings. Be it an unannounced procession in full color or a thunderous waterfall; or just a traffic gridlock on the highway, the motorcycle becomes a part of you. Besides, how else can a sore butt, bloodshot eyes and shaky arms be borne with a sense of accomplishment? What else would make people stare with jealousy or admiration as you pass?

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The beauty, simplicity and class that exist in older things somehow seem to lack in the things of today. “Terribly outdated design” was a tag given to my motorcycle by many when I bought it. But there are many others like me, who are in awe of the protruding engine, the loud thump and the classic vintage curves. These are the very same people who will forever remain loyal with the brand and would be ever ready to argue it out when it comes to who really ‘rules the road’.

To conclude, there are not many people who would love these motorcycles, but who really do have formed a cult of their own. Robust design and high capacity engines complimented with classic vintage looks makes this motorcycle a clear favorite among the motorcycling travelers of the country. 

Taking detours is always a good idea.

Yes, you might end up in the middle of nowhere with a punctured tyre. Rocks, water, pebbles, muck, you might end up calling anything under your tyres, road. However, what is almost always certain is that you will find yourself amidst beautiful, unfamiliar lands with breath-taking scenery.

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Sticking to main roads and highways will definitely get you to your destination safe and sound. But it won’t give you something to take back from the trip.

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Bottom line, if you see a mysterious and interesting looking route, take the risk and go for it! You never know what is out there and trust me it will be totally worth it.

 

Discovering freedom… everyday

There are only a few moments in my long boring day that I am truly free and it’s when I’m on my motorcycle. The machine speaks to me as I sit on it. It rids me of my worries, sorrows and pain. I’ve been conflicted and trapped within my mind. It beats and my heart reciprocates.

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Whether it be the cold of the night or the slur of the monsoon or the summer heat, it moves me.

I feel free with it and it frees me of all the unnecessary contemplation, shaking off those nagging, depressing and disturbing thoughts. What will become of my life? Am i doing the right thing? Are they worth it? All these fucking thoughts take a backseat when i ride my baby.

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I enjoy every moment of it, its just me and the road. Ode to thee my machine, upon you I find peace and with you I am free.

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