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Here's to the spirit of biking & philanthropy

Sunday, 22 December 2013 - 1:10pm IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: dna

Highway junkies' appetite to ride is insatiable, given the experiences life on the road throws up. Add a cause to the trip, there's so much more in store.

When the passion for biking meets the joy of giving, serendipity happens. Ask Prem Joseph, a biker on a 6,200-km journey spanning 10 states. Be it the help pouring in from strangers when his bike broke down or the unexpected cheques for the cause he’s promoting, the experiences in the past two weeks on the road have left him overwhelmed. And grateful.

Joseph is the director of sales and marketing, Hyderabad Marriott Hotel & Convention Centre and Courtyard by Marriott. He undertook this trip to raise funds for a cause (see box), and his journey brought him to Bangalore on Friday.

Although an experienced rider, this was his first solo trip. As he was to be all alone, and given the distance he had to clock, he obviously had butterflies in his stomach. And as is wont on such a long journey, the bike did start acting up.

But Joseph’s leap of faith paid off. His countenance reflects relief and gratitude as he recalls how help poured in. Oh, that he is a member of Brotherhood of Bullet Motorcycling Clubs (BOBMC) did matter. He says that by the time he reached Jaipur, his bike desperately needed some repairs. He put his requirement on the online forum of BOBMC. He wasn’t prepared for what happened next.
He says the post triggered a flood of calls from the club members, wanting to help. He underlines that these were absolute strangers, still anxious to get his bike fixed at the earliest. In fact, he says he had to switch his phone off at 2 am as he kept getting calls from people eager to help.

More pleasant surprise was in store when a stranger-turned-helper took him to the workshop.
The mechanic asked Joseph if he was a big shot he doesn’t happen to know. A perplexed Joseph asked the mechanic what made him think so. The mechanic said he had been getting calls since a day before from Bullet riders, asking him to be prepared for a bike on a long journey.

This is not it. The hotelier says that when his journey took him to Gujarat, the workshop in Ahmedabad did not charge him even a paisa for the repairs when they learnt his trip was to raise funds for a noble cause.

“I certainly did not expect help like this,” Joseph asserts.

That children’s lives were to benefit from his trip inspired others too to contribute. Joseph says that when he reached the Marriott hotel in Bhopal and was interacting with the staff, one of the visitors handed him over a cheque of Rs10,000 upon learning that the money would go for welfare activities. Even staffers of the hotels across the country chipped in with their contribution.

“I’m totally blown away by the response,” he says, highlighting that at the beginning of his trip, he had expected to raise Rs5 lakh, but he already has collected Rs5.2 lakh. And he is yet to visit two more Marriott hotels; the auction of stay vouchers too is remaining.

Anecdotes galore
Ask him about an amusing experience and he, with a sense of wonder, recalls meeting a bicycle-riding, trident-carrying, English-speaking sadhu. The sadhu remarked that both of them were on a journey to discover something. And then he pedaled away, without answering Joseph’s question that how he knew English.

“Destination is not going to go anywhere. It’s there. It’s the journey that matters,” observes Joseph, highlighting the importance of, as they say, taking time off to smell the roses.

The cause
Prem Joseph, director of sales and marketing, Hyderabad Marriott Hotel & Convention Centre and Courtyard by Marriott, is visiting all the operational JW Marriott hotels in the country on his Bullet motorcycle with an aim to collect giftable stay vouchers, half of which will be auctioned. The money thus raised will be donated to Marriott Home (in Tamil Nadu), which shelters and provides education to children of people affected with leprosy. He has visited JW Marriott properties in Delhi, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Bhopal, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Pune and Goa, from where he arrived in Bangalore on Friday. Before he reaches his final stop, Hyderabad, he has a couple of more cities to stop by—Cochin and Chennai.

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