A motorcycle junkie with everywhere on his checklist, Mathew is one of those rare folks who has taken travel seriously. At his age, most people would be in a rush to send their kids off to college, but he is out to explore on an adventure of a lifetime. For a long time now, it’s been just his motorcycle and the open road ahead of him. Recently back from a stint as an English teacher in Istanbul, he is now spending his time, enjoying the farm life near Bangalore city.
How did travel turn from being more than just a hobby and into a way of life?
As a young man, I loved going on rides on my motorcycle, going farther and farther away from home, loving the idea of adventure. When I moved to New York, I travelled with friends to Florida, Virginia and so on, over time the distances grew larger. The saddest part about these trips was heading back. As soon as we reached the endpoint, it was unsatisfying to turn back. I used to harbor a secret desire to keep going without turning back, and at the age of 50 is when I realised that if I wait longer, I won’t ever get around to travelling. All of that pushed me to purchase my dream motorcycle and then I just took off, to get lost in the world till I run out of globe!
Do you have a bucket list of some sort?
A few things and places are on my bucket list, but I was very careful not to corner myself because of an item on my bucket list which would make me go that way. So, the idea was that if I missed something I can get back to doing it later. I just love the free form of travelling without an itinerary.
What kind of traveller would you say you are?
I’ve never organised a travelling partner. 97 percent of the time I’m solo, otherwise, I find a travel buddy along the way. For instance, I met a guy from Germany at a petrol bunk, in Norway, he was heading towards where I planned on going and at the end, we just set off on our next adventure for nearly a month.
What are the main challenges you face while travelling?
Visa issues are a major problem for me. I’m always enjoying myself and I take a look at the calendar and that’s when I realize that I have to get out of the country or extend a license on my motorcycle which wouldn’t have happened if I was moving a bit more rapidly or with a plan so that I could anticipate it. Especially right now, I’m trying to figure out how to extend my Indian motorcycle license which will end in the month of June, the height of Himalayan adventure time so that I don’t feel rushed when I’m up north.
What has been your favorite destination so far?
Sinai in Egypt! Good, God! Before heading there I got all sorts of warnings, about my life being in danger and other horrible things. Rather than being on high alert, I was almost relaxed to death, it was so calm and mellow there. The water there is amazing and the marine life is an overwhelming experience. You don’t have to go scuba diving there to feel like you are in a fishbowl. I spent all my time in Sinai going out to tea and mingling with people.
Life is a series of changes for you. In the midst of all this have you ever felt like settling down somewhere?
I’ve been home a few times to visit family. But, homesickness is something I’ve stopped feeling over time. My last trip was to Istanbul, Turkey and it did not make a good first impression. The crowded cosmopolitan city made me want to flee. But I met a guy from America and we got talking which is when he asked me whether I’d like to sub as an English teacher. I agreed and from there on I went from being a sub to working full time, I got certified, got myself an apartment, I even had a favorite grocery store. It was like being home again and I realised how much I missed it. I could have become an expat there, leading a comfortable life but I ended up making the hard decision to leave and that’s how I landed in India.
How long has it been since you’ve been travelling? Has it changed you in any way?
It’s been three years since I’ve been travelling. Yup, it has freed myself up quite a bit from what I expect from life and my future. It has allowed me to view my life as a moveable feast, whereby I don’t necessarily need to dictate what I’m doing or where I’m going, it has made me more flexible and open, turning me into an accepting person of not only who I am but how I fit into a particular situation.
How has travel changed over the years?
When I was 19, I went to Europe and there if I wanted to book a hostel or a room, I had to make a phone call with coins. If you had the wrong phone number or address, you’d land yourself in a helpless situation. Now it is completely different, connectivity has increased and technology has advanced making travel more flexible. What I see today is direct opposition to the previous situation, there’s a lot of over-researched travel happening. Someone types their destination into Tripadvisor and looks up the entire itinerary and they end up rushing through the must-see spots. Instead of taking a little bit of time to observe, they scurry about trying to tick things off and take pictures to fill up a social media feed and then rush off to more places. They forget to take time to stop and smell the roses!
Do you have any tips for people who are planning to take up travelling as a lifestyle?
Middle-aged people are busy making sure their kids are getting into college and the only reason he’s out there is that he needs a break and wants to figure things out. For a younger person, it’s pure adventure which is a more free and wonderful state of being. But for both cases, my advice is the same, you need to identify what’s around you and what your brain is telling you. You’ll have to condition yourself to quiet down the little man inside of you to shut up and keep your eyes open and understand and observe everything around you so that you can see the options that you have ahead of you rather than the plans you made
How has India been so far?
India? I have three words- Food, food and more food. I’ve made it to a couple of places in and around South India, the refreshing mountains of Ooty, the bustling city of Mumbai and the beaches of Goa, to name a few. Till now, all the places I’ve been to have been absolutely breath-taking, beautiful and relaxing. I’ve enjoyed all that India has offered and I’ve been at Bangalore for the past few weeks working at a farm and enjoying the idyllic life. Soon I’ll be off on my exploration up north on a trip to Ladakh.
Here’s to his true roamer spirit! You can follow him on his travel-ventures on Instagram @exbike. Inspired to travel like him? Then do join our clan of roamers at https://roamingclan.com/ to go on adventures of your own.