Mumbai to London 1977

An idea that took seed in the mind of Police Sub Inspector Bhaskar Dhangle, resulted in an adventurous journey of a lifetime for himself, Police Sub Inspector Sanjay Dani and 6 other members of the Bombay Police Force. They took up a challenge to ride four Royal Enfield motorbikes from Mumbai, India to London, UK through Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Croatia & Slovenia (former Yugoslavia), Italy and France. They were on the road for two months, navigating some of the most exciting and treacherous roads in the world. One would imagine that the lack of satellite navigation or mobile phones would be the biggest challenge they had to face while planning their journey but the bigger challenge probably was to explain to their middle class Maharastrian families that this was a good idea! But “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come,”. Everything aligned with the intention of these gentlemen to make this journey possible. The planning itself took all of six months to complete, using maps and mostly their imagination. At a time when travel gear was not readily available in India, they built indigenous carriers to fit on their motorbikes. They set off knowing that they had the resourcefulness required to make it through this adventure.

The people of Afghanistan and Iran found it easy to make friends with the Indians based on their love for Bollywood cinema and music, even though language was otherwise a barrier in communication. In Turkey, they experienced intense cold for the first time. Their aforementioned resourcefulness held them in good stead as they lined the insides of their clothes with folded newspapers to keep warm. If not their grit and guts, they found that policemen came to their rescue at various times during their travel. For example, when they were on their way to Calais from Paris, the team got separated when a massive trailer truck came in between the motorbikes at a fork in the road. Both the factions called the police control room and unknown to them, a nationwide alert was raised. They were escorted to the local youth hostel where they were reunited. An Interpol officer, who was also an avid motorcyclist accompanied them out of Paris and put them on the road to Calais the next day. They faced many hurdles during this time, from stolen money in Italy to feeling intensely homesick due to minimal communication with family back home. But they soldiered on to accomplish what they had set out to do. They arrived in Dover with a sense of great pride and achievement.

When camera film was expensive, they have managed to capture many moments from their journey so that several decades later, we can sit in the digital age and continue to be inspired.

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