In his 70s, on 16000km dream vroom with 'sweet-67' wife

Inspiring Gujarati senior citizen couple takes sceptics for a ride on a Global road trip

By Antara Bose in Jamshedpur
  • Published 3.04.18
AGE NO BAR: Mohanlal P Chauhan with his wife Leelaben in Mango, Jamshedpur, on Monday. Picture by Bhola Prasad

Jamshedpur: Most men in their 70s think they're on the top of their fitness game if they take morning walks. But, Vadodara's Mohanlal P. Chauhan, 74, has embarked on a 16,000km bike ride, which includes India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia, with his equally sporting wife Leelaben, 67.

The senior citizens, who started their road trip on January 18 from their hometown, reached Jamshedpur on March 30, covering Sanchi, Godhra, Dahod, Ujjain, Bhopal, Allahabad, Varanasi, Gaya, Ranchi and Hazaribagh on a 1974 vintage Royal Enfield bike.

"Jamshedpur has been the most welcoming so far," said the retired ONGC engineer, who along with his wife, are putting up at the Mango home of a member of The Roadmelters, a steel city club of Bullet (as the Royal Enfield bike is called by its aficionados) riders. They will leave for Puri on Tuesday.

Chauhan, who clocks 200km per day from 8am to 4pmon his bike with Leelaben in the sidecar, said they had a point to prove.

"Everyone thinks this is not an age for adventures. We say, age is just a number. My wife and I love travelling and we've gone on road trips in Gujarat and South India earlier. So this January we decided to increase the ambit of our ambitions and combat ageism," said the genial elderly man. "And yes, we also want to spread awareness on tree plantation as we both feel that's the only way save our planet for future generations."

Leelaben added they had a "bit of a problem" when on February 7, she met with an accident in Chitrakoot, Madhya Pradesh, and they had to halt for 40 days. "We thought we'll finish the ride in 40 days. But, I slipped off stairs. My accident has delayed things a bit," the lady who now walks with a crutch, but is as determined to carry on with the road trip.

Chauhan added proudly that his wife wanted to hurry up and continue with the ride despite her accident. "Well, this ride is his dream and I am enjoying it too," smiled Leelaben, who also lugs a stove to prepare their "simple vegetarian meals as and when required".

Chauhan said he was spending around Rs 7 lakh of his savings for the road trip on fuel, food and hotel accommodation. "No we did not get sponsorships. Even our children (the couple has a grown-up son and daughter) told us not to do this. But, we didn't want to wait," he said. "We have fulfilled our duties as parents and now want to enjoy life on our terms," he said.

A planner to the core, Chauhan said he had researched for 10 months for the road trip using Google, poring over maps and books and making lists.

"Also, we have medical insurance, so no worries. We just want to explore new cities, people and cultures," he smiled. "I think we will do fine."