Two adventurous brothers describe their 54-day motorcycle trip around India.
Not long after completing their motorcycle ride through China, Colin and Ryan Pyle (The Middle Kingdom Ride, 2013) decided to take on a different country: India. Ryan, a photographer, chose India based on its diversity of landscapes, sense of rapid change, and population density. His younger brother, Colin, assumed that after China, this ride would be “a breeze.” The brothers, a cameraman, and a film assistant planned to start in Delhi and ride along India’s periphery. From Day 1, the population density that had once sounded thrilling quickly proved to be the biggest, most arduous hurdle of their ride—and it never relented. Traffic was a constant; lawless, poorly constructed motorways made for chaotic and dangerous traveling. The brothers rarely found any of the remote tranquility they experienced in China. Commercial areas offered them their only respite: Nashik vineyards, the Mahindra factory, and the Taj Mahal stood in contrast to the rampant poverty they came to expect. During an excursion to Karni Mata Temple at Deshnoke, also known as the Rat Temple, both brothers were repulsed by the unsanitary conditions and the more than 20,000 diseased rat inhabitants—believed by many to be ancient ancestors. A common religious refrain—God’s will determines fate—quickly grated on them as they believed it led to a lack of self-determination within the country. Both became aggravated with what they viewed as India’s failure to fix obvious issues: infrastructure, sanitation, and poverty. Though clearly excited to be on another adventure, the authors’ perspectives tend to dwell on the surface. Their straightforward accounts of the most basic elements of each day (time and distance traveled, state of the hotel, level of exhaustion, and upcoming stops) drain the momentum of their motoring through the country. Both brothers take time for introspection, but they repeat themselves; they’re tired and accept they will never understand any country from riding through it eight hours a day. And yet, their honesty is refreshing; it’s rare to find a travelogue that never resorts to high drama. Instead, they let their experiences speak for themselves.
What may make for engaging film with stunning scenery stalls as a written account.