Megh Varn owns a Classic Crome 500 Royal Enfield, has completed the 1,400-km Himalayan Odyssey from Gurgaon to Munsiyari via Haldwan-Nainital-Bageshwar-Pachar, is seen revving along the Gurgaon-Faridabad highway on a superbike every weekend — and loves to bake, especially bread.
Did a double take on that? Well, you should. It’s not every day that you meet a leather-jacket-toting biker with a love for baking. In fact, he is as passionate about taking the Royal Enfield Himalayan for a spin as he is about perfecting the art of “cooking a whole lamb on an open flame”.
“I always wanted to cook. When I went to Mumbai for my film, theatre and advertising assignments, I didn’t have anyone catering to my hunger pangs. Hence, I had to cook. And after the first meal I made, I knew I had found a new love,” he says.
But why bread? “The packaged ones we get in the market are not fresh. I would rather make something myself,” he says. “Besides, I love watching the way the dough swells up during baking,” he adds, grinning.
But wait, did he just say he went to Mumbai for a film assignment? So he’s an actor too? “I have done a few roles in films, such as Damle in Anurag Kashyap’s Shanghai, Pedro in Dum Maaro Dum and Haatim in Bangistan. I also sing and compose the occasional song,” he says. “But what really gets my adrenaline pumping is biking.”
Megh Varn with his Royal Enfield
“To me, riding is a journey of self-discovery,” he adds. “An attempt to define who I am. The more I ride, the more I realise that it is life’s questions, not answers, that are more important.”
His dream machines are the GS1200, the Triumph Tiger 800, the Benelli 502 trk, the Kawasaki Versys 650 and, of course, the Royal Enfield 750 cc. In fact, this mechanical engineer-FTII graduate from Sector 15 Gurgaon was one of the first in the city to take the Royal Enfield Himalayan for a spin around his sector. However, he cautions enthusiasts “to balance the adrenaline rush with sound biking basics, and not get swayed into daredevilry by the captivating roar of the 1,000 cc beasts, especially on Indian roads”.
He counts YouTube sensation CS Santosh; 68-year-old Colonel Sohan Roy; and Dr Arnob Gupta, known as the Flying Doc, who covered the treacherous terrain from Leh to Kanyakumari in just 78 hours, as his inspirations.
On his wishlist is a dream run from Leh to Arunanchal Pradesh. In fact, given the chance, he’d like to try out the Gurgaon-Bangkok route. And why not? He has already put his endurance to the test on the 4,500-km Mumbai-Chennai-Kanyakumari-Munnar-Ooty-Coorg-Goa-Mumbai ECR ride and, earlier, on the 3,400-km Mumbai-Jaipur-Bullet Baba temple-Jaisalmer-Longowala-Mt Abu-Mumbai-Rajasthan ride.
And throughout, he has had one guiding mantra: “Don’t tell me who you are, ride with me and I will know.”
So how often does he ride his bike around Gurgaon? “Oh, pretty often,” he says. “It still has quite a few open stretches to make for lovely rides. After a long day, my favourite spot to unwind is at the Biker’s Café on the Golf Course Road. I also love Cyber Hub, for its vibrant cultural aura, the Roots Café Leisure Valley, Om Sweets in Sector 14, Bisque DLF Phase 2 and Jamie’s Pizzeria at Ambience Mall.”
“You know, Gurgaon has grown so much from the first time I came here in 2003 for my internship at Maruti Udyog,” he adds. “Even though some of the places are really swanky, there are some areas in Gurgaon, especially in Sector 15, that could do with an infrastructural boost to support traffic, especially during peak office hours, and keep waterlogging in check. As a biker, these two points, especially, are real dampers.”
On the plus side, however, Varn loves the fact that Sector 15 is so close to the National Highway. “I can just hop on to my bike and ride off. Maybe that’s how I’ll just take off on the Bangkok road trip one day,” he says, grinning. But his smile gives me the feeling he has something else up his sleeve. What’s he thinking? “I want to cook for the temple school in Sector 15,” he says. “It’s something I’ve really wanted to do for some time now.”