Pursuit of Happiness

Revving it up

Benetton India's Sanjeev Mohanty says a bike's roar keeps him calm

Vishal Koul

The early morning sun lights up the asphalt on the Gurgaon-Faridabad expressway, announcing the arrival of a lazy Sunday. While most of Gurgaon’s residents are still in bed, Sanjeev Mohanty, MD, United Colours of Benetton India, is speeding across the 25-km expressway on a Triumph Tiger Explorer XC.

“I distinctly remember my first bike ride. It was on October 10, 2011. I bought my first bike that day and my first ever ride was from the showroom to my home,” says Mohanty. Thirty-nine-year-old Mohanty, who did not even know how to switch gears back then, has covered 30,000 miles as part of around 30 road trips and bike rallies he has participated in so far.

Mohanty is the proud owner of two mean machines — the Harley Davidson Road King and the aforementioned Triumph. “The former is meant for smooth roads such as highways whereas the latter is an all-terrain bike for adventurous rough trails.” A member of two biker groups — the Delhi chapter of the Harley Owner’s Group (HOG) and Adventure Riders — Mohanty’s way of unwinding during the weekend is to mount his ride and escape to places such as Manali, Rohtang Pass, Pushkar, Kanatal and Narkanda.

Mohanty considers the unpredictability of Indian roads a challenge, he feels that biking gives him time to reflect on his thoughts. “When you’re riding a bike it’s just you and your machine, it gives me some much-needed alone time. Having to constantly keep my eyes on the road, teaches me to stay focused at work. Community riding enhances my team-building skills.”

As the director of HOG’s Delhi chapter in 2013, Mohanty has participated in several road trips and often encountered awestruck pedestrians with funny questions. “Kitna mileage deti hai? (How much mileage does it give?) is a question that I’ve been asked innumerable times. People ask if they can take a ride and dhaba owners often give us free food.”

Mohanty’s most memorable ride was the ‘National HOG Ride’ from Delhi to Goa in January this year. “More than 1,000 Harley riders from across the country embarked on a four-day journey across 2,300 km,” recalls Mohanty, who has managed to get his wife — who has accompanied him on several road trips — involved in his hobby.

When he’s not hitting the road, Mohanty is busy tending to his collection of postal stamps and coins. His father, who was interested in numismatics and philately, passed on his extensive collection of 5,000 stamps and 1,000 coins, some dating back to 1857, to his son.

Mohanty, who has explored and conquered many unruly roads in India, dreams of attempting a trans-continental trip on his bike someday. “I have been wanting to turn this dream into reality for a very long time but I will need at least seven-eight months to attempt this.” In other words, it will be a while before Sanjeev Mohanty finds the time to go on the ride of his lifetime.