As the monsoon sets in and temperatures begin to dip, Raj Krishnan will kick-start his Royal Enfield bike and set off to Amritsar. The 52-year-old dentist, who pioneered dental tourism in Kerala, is now combining his professional commitments with his passion for adventure. Every month, he does a 10-day solo bike ride to explore different parts of India. He began The Great India Ride, as he calls it, in 2017 and maintains a balance between his appointment schedule and riding timetable. The inspiration for this was is a kayaker, Sandy Robson, who works for six months and lives an outdoor life for the rest of the year. “What inspired me was Sandy’s Germany to Australia solo kayaking expedition where she kayaks country to country for six months and works six months in her home country Australia.”
A casual biker Raj rediscovered his passion for motor bik
ing after a chance meeting with Glenn Loh, a member of the the Singapore motorcycle club Street Coyotes, at the iconic Leopold Café, Mumbai in 2011. He gave him access to the international biking community. “I prefer to ride solo because people accept you more easily. You are invited into their homes and see their way of life. In a group, one does not get to interact with the locals and generally ends up in cafés and pubs.”
Raj chooses places that have an ongoing festival or good weather. On his first ride through Tamil Nadu to Mumbai, he discovered the beauty and magnitude of annaprasadam or the feeding devotees of a temple in Dharmasthala, Udupi where thousands are fed a three-course meal. He also got involved in the jallikattu protests in Tamil Nadu and joined a Dandiya festival in Gujarat.
When he finishes a ride, Raj leaves his bike in safekeeping with someone he has met and picks up from there during the next leg. “I don’t bring my bike back,” he says adding that his Royal Enfield 350 Classic and 500 Classic are parked on the east and west coasts of the country, one near Delhi and the other at Puducherry.
Raj travels around 250 km a day and was once accompanied by his wife Jyothi and his daughter’s fiancé Sushin Shyam on another. “My bike has a retro look with tin boxes on either side in which I carry raincoats and jackets and my tent roll. I drive the Enfield as it is not a high-end expensive bike. Its mechanics are not complicated and it can be repaired easily.”
As his rides are certified green rides Raj has made planting trees a mission and part of his adventures. He planted the first sapling at Hotel Le Meridien.
As he prepares to travel to Amritsar, he is already thinking of exploring the beauty of North East, the Hornbill festival and more.
What set him on this path? A health issue prompted him to follow his heart and see his country and its people up close.
On the high seas
Raj Krishnan will shortly undertake a six-day voyage from Kochi to Colombo and back in a sail boat, along with a French couple. He is currently learning to operate sails and read the winds.
In May 1997, Lorene Zegori, a hospital clown from Florida, visited Dr Raj Krishnan’s dental clinic with severe toothache. When informed that he required two root canal treatments, he opted to get it done. In December, Raj received a call from Lorene saying that his dentist in Florida was amazed by the good job done on his teeth. He also said he would prefer to come back and get the crown for his teeth. When he returned, he brought with him three other clients.
With Kerala being marketed as a holiday destination, Raj began to think about the idea of dental tourism. He began to participate in travel marts across the world to promote Kerala as a health destination. Prompted by a query at the World Travel Mart in London he understood that to turn Kerala into a destination for dentistry he needed to bring on board a team of dentists, to cater to the volumes of clients it would bring in.