Dominic Franks who graduated from the Bangalore Medical College had always carried an ambition to be a writer and he achieved his dreams by cycling his way up. This session was about Dominic’s ‘doodh waala’ cycle called Nautanki which he used for a 2,250km ride from Bangalore to all the way up till Delhi. He says that his book comes out of this ride and it is not just about the bicycle and the journey but it is about the capabilities of the human body. It is about the potential which is hidden in our everyday lives and comes only in the moments of anguish.
The idea of this ride came to him in 1995 when he heard from this hockey coach, whom he addresses as Shikaari. Shikaari had also made a journey from Bangalore to Delhi and all the way back. This inspired Dominic to do the same and in 2010 he did the journey. His target was to complete 100 kilometres every day for if he kept this pace then he would reach Delhi in 22 days to see the commonwealth games. But there were preparations to be made before the main ride.
To start with he had never taken any long ride on the cycle earlier which meant he had to be coached physically and mentally. Every day his coach would ask him about the prize of doing this but he knew there were none and it was only his own accomplishment. Next step was the choice of the cycle for which he chose a gearless plain simple working man’s cycle which his coach used to call Poor Man’s Maruti. Dominic excellently said that if the simple cycle is good for thousands of working class in the country then it would be good for him too. Another advantage was there were no hills on the way from Bangalore to Delhi which meant a gearless cycle was not a hindrance. Also, Nautanki being Nautanki will not attract attention for it doesn’t have any grandeur. However, talking about his difficulties, he said there was a passage in the journey where there were hills in Madhya Pradesh which were the toughest part of the journey and the way he accomplished it was to believe in himself. There was a beautiful passage from his book that he read out for the audience which creatively explores this dimension.
Also, the last point which he made about the book was that it is not about cycling but the people he met, the languages he observed with a haa in Karnataka, Ho in Maharashtra and Hao in Madhya Pradesh and so on.He also told the audience about his interesting encounters with a young 15-year-old boy who knew realities, then a milkman who sported his way up to deliver milk to Agra before the truck leaves. In the end, it is not about the two wheels of the vehicle only but the stories which get weaved with every round, every pedal.
About the Author: Kalpita is a Bachelor in English Literature. Her ultimate goal is to fulfill the romantic notion of changing the world for better and she is pursuing MA in Development from Azim Premji University, Bangalore. She currently writes for Bookstalkist.