Guwahati: Everyone had advised Manas Dewan and Anuradha Bhonsale Dewan against going to Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country still harrowed by memories of one of the most brutal civil wars in modern history. Ignoring the warning, the couple set off on their Ducati Scrambler.
With the Croatia border behind them, they were stopped at the border check-post in Bosnia. A burly passport officer, after checking their passports, asked them to wait and came out with some of his colleagues. With their heart in their mouth, they were already cursing themselves for not heeding the warning. However, to their surprise, the official named Goran Komlenovic extended his hand and said that they were the first Indians to cross Bosnian border on a motorbike.
This was one of the many memorable moments from the couple’s journey across 18 European countries in 100 days. Manas, a corporate professional with two decades of experience, and Anuradha, a PhD in Philosophy and a reputed life coach, had left their comfortable lives behind to take a plunge into the unknown.
Starting from Spain, the couple went to Portugal, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Italy, Czech Republic,Vatican, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece and, finally, Turkey.
Manas, who hails from Guwahati, chronicled their adventures in a book called Dear Journey. The book, published by Crossword, also has another part called ‘Dear Journey Within.’ This part is a novella which depicts the encounters of a gypsy with magical creatures of the forest.
Both are expert riders and have travelled more than 5 lakh km within India. “We went to Leh quite a few times on bike,” says Manas.
However, an adventure of this magnitude was the first for both of them. They had their fair share of hiccups during the journey -- from their bike being stuck with customs at Valencia to not knowing the language and also battling inclement weather.
They had an interesting experience in Albania where the locals would invite their friends and relatives to come and see this Indian couple. “They were actually fascinated by our dark complexion and would ask us whether we have put any make-up. So many people would come every day to see us. Children would bunk their school and sit beside us the entire day,” laughs Anuradha.
They stayed one month in Turkey and were in fact was just 100 km away from Aleppo, which undertook heavy destruction during the Syrian Civil War.
Manas had earlier written about these adventures in his blog ‘Dosti on Wheels’. The blog was featured among the top 100 travel blogs in the world in 2017.
Explorers at heart, these two individuals had put everything at stake -- career, bank balance and their future -- to chase their dreams. In return, they have been rewarded with a lifetime of memories. Anuradha says, “People might discourage you saying it’s a big bad world outside. But actually it is not true. At every step, we met strangers who went out of their way to help us.”
They have once again returned to their professional fold and contemplating taking up new job offers. “We need to save money for another trip. Next time, Africa maybe,” Manas adds.