• The Nomad

Goodbyes are never easy, especially when bidding adieu to a beloved friend

Summarising the story of ‘The Nomad’ or ‘Prashi’ as he was fondly called in a few words is difficult, knowing everything this amazing soul did for the motorcycling world. It has been 20-odd years since I got to know him and yet feel I didn’t know him well enough. As I write this, I am unable to stop my tears. We happened to first meet in 2002 for a track at Coimbatore and before we knew it, we were thick as thieves.

Fast forward to 2006, Prashi said “Anna, let me take you to the Himalayas”. A train journey including two nights with 10 others later our ride began in Delhi. On the ride, I find Prashi is the rider, organizer, guide, man who knows everyone, man who can fix anything and my brother in arms. I knew right then, that our journey had just begun. I gave up my corporate job in 2008 and met Prashi and told him I wanted to do something with motorcycles. Without batting an eyelid he said, “Let’s do it Anna.” Indimotard was born and our first tour in the Himalayas kicked off in 2009.

His memory was better than a computer, remembering everything from parts to human anxieties and needs. Prashi celebrated life with an assorted bunch of motorcycles, ranging from British classics, Czech race machines and Japanese marvels, as his agenda consisted racing, rallying, touring and more. Besides riding he was known for spending time in greasy mechanic sheds honing his skills on restoring primitive motorcycles or building race contraptions from them!

Prashi was also actively involved in founding and growing some of the most popular biking communities in India, like the RTMC (Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club), BOB MC (Brotherhood of Bulleteers MC). He was also always understated, never letting on about his personal goals or honours, be it riding across 29 states in 29 days, winning drag races on Royal Enfields, his personal collection of motorcycles and cars or the uncanny ability to have connections at the farthest corners of the world.

Visit his house and you would be treated to a smorgasbord of collectibles from antiques to small mementos. And each of these had a back story. Imagine walking into a five bedroom house and seeing motorcycles parked in every room! Classic and vintage motorcycles including Triumphs, Czech import side car Jawas, bikes with a trailer car, Bobbys, Royal Enfield Racing machines from the factory, Yezdis and more. You walk out into the yard and see a Volkswagen Beetle, Millicento, Ambassador Mark V, Isuzu Short Chassis Trooper and Jeeps.

In the words of another friend, Sandeep Menon, “Pure passion is a rare thing and moves you with its pure, unadulterated energy. That was the kind of passion Prashanth had for automobiles of every hue. He was not only a great rider and passionate collector, but also had the ability to roll up his sleeves, strip down and put back almost any bike. In fact, it is no secret that some popular models from large companies had their origin not in the design labs of Europe, but in Prashi’s unassuming garages, crafted carefully by a legion of mechanics who were friends and family to him.

When the Ideal Jawa factory in Mysore announced it would be shutting down and disposing everything in the factory as scrap, Prashi was like a kid in a candy shop. We came away with a stash of memorabilia, rare motorcycles, hang gliders, three wheelers, trailers and café racers, all built on the Jawa platform. And he raced those bikes. No wonder when Jawa was revived and the owners decided to make a coffee table book, Prashi was a main feature as well as a major contributor. They say that a man is remembered by the legacy he leaves behind and Prashi had many. The bikes he built, the communities he helped create and nurture, the youngsters he inspired and the people and companies he helped.”

You cannot but pause and wonder how one man could do so much in such a short time. Yes, it was a very short time for Prashi with us all and a life taken too early. I miss him dearly and I think the motorcycling community will miss him too.

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