“Motorcycle Diaries of a Pakistani: Moin Khan from the US to Pakistan”

by Aanya F Niaz

Interview with motorcyclist Moin Khan

A friend from Lahore, the shy, proud Pakistani boy, Moin, has taken a colossal leap of faith, shed his shy demeanor and taken up a task that will surely offer him enduring exhilaration. His family, friends and fellow Pakistanis are behind him, all the way!

I have the privilege of knowing this young chap from several years ago. He was always a free-spirited daredevil. His humble nature enthused me to interview him of his incredible and unprecedented journey from the United States to Pakistan on none other than a motorcycle. Currently he is in Toronto, Canada on his bike, eager to make his way to the homeland without any prescribed itinerary. “There is no Plan B, so there is no Plan A”, says Moin. That’s just how he rolls.

Moin informed me: “I haven’t written this elaborately for anyone else up till now. Not even for NBC” 

From San Francisco, U.S.A to Lahore, Pakistan

1. Did this start as a personal desire or was it always rooted in wanting positive change for Pakistan?

I was actually thinking about a motorcycle ride within the US. Maybe a trip from San Francisco to Alaska or something. I didn’t even start planning for this yet and the bad news about Pakistan kept getting worse and worse. Everyday I was waking up to bbc.com, dawn.com and other news media showing only negative stories about Pakistan. It was just torture to read this stuff every single day. Not a single positive perspective on Pakistan for almost half a decade since I arrived in the US. I started thinking, there has to be at least one person who can do something positive that would make it on the headlines. And then we students here can be proud of it. After a few months I decided to change my plans of riding to Alaska and just move back to Pakistan and look for a job there, and I thought I would go on my motorcycle. I never planned on being on the news though. Till the day of my departure on July 10th, 2011, I had not called or even told anyone about this journey. Not a single news channel, not a single media person. It just went out of control after I uploaded the first set of pictures and videos on my Facebook fan page and it was then that I realized I WAS THAT GUY. Well, at least I would like to think that.

2. How old were you when you sat on your first motorcycle? Have you received any formal training?

I don’t remember how old I was when I first sat on a motorcycle but what I do remember is that I was 11 years old when I stole my family carpenter “Younis Bhai’s” motorcycle who came to our house for some wood work estimates. It was an old Honda 70cc 4 speed single cylinder that I rode all around Lahore. The freedom, the danger, the overwhelming feeling of going between cars and swerving in and out of traffic, it was just something I had never experienced. I smiled from ear to ear for maybe a week.

3. How do you intend to use this journey, exactly, to shed positive light on Pakistan?

The introduction video does answer this but I’ll say it again briefly. The idea was to talk to people on the road, complete strangers, tell them about Pakistan, answer any questions they might have about Pakistan to the best of my ability and show them that we Pakistanis are as peace loving as the rest of the world. We can also ride motorcycles around the world, be adventurous and take up challenges many just dream about.

4. How do you intend on crossing the waters? I understand in your interviews you claim spontaneous thought to be your leading light, but have you thought of crossing the water yet?

Being spontaneous is the key ingredient to ADifferentAgenda, I didn’t book a single campground or a motel and that was because ‘what if I meet somebody and they say, “oh, that one city you’re going is boring go south and hit that other spot,” then I’ll be stuck because I’m booked somewhere else. So the main idea was to be free, be free without a deadline, without a schedule. However, I did do my research about the logistics, paper work, transportation over water, visas and a bunch of other stuff.

I found a company called CIS – Carex International Shipping, and I booked a spot for my bike with them in one of their cargo ships. Two days before departing out of San Francisco I received an email from Mike (the customer service representative) stating that they have stopped shipping motorcycles internationally due to some silly reasons. I didn’t have time to look for another one, so I left the house without any booking of any sort. I found some other options, I emailed these companies couple of days back, haven’t heard from any yet but hopefully I will soon and it will all be a breeze. I’m very positive about this whole journey, there is no plan so nothing can really go wrong. There is no plan B as there is no plan A.

5. When the going gets tough, what keeps you going?

Well I knew from the start the US-Canada leg will be easy, the European and the Asian leg would be tricky. So up till now,  everything is pretty smooth, the bike did fail a few times but I’m glad it did because it makes the journey a bit more interesting. I don’t want everything to go perfectly, it wouldn’t be fun then. A few hurdles here and there and that’s when the real fun begins.

6. Whose support has meant the most to you and why?

Nadir Minhas (www.wikisanjose.com) and Ali Khan (www.khan-artist.com) are two of my biggest supporters, they help me update the website and the Facebook fan page. They also helped me with a lot of the pre-ride preparation.

Thomas Evans’ support (www.StuntRide.com) has meant a lot to me. Stuntride.com helped me before I even started the ride, they were with me when I didn’t have a website or a Facebook Fan page. They believed in me and ADifferentAgenda from the start and that’s what matters.

Novelty Software also helped me with the website and they still update it everyday whenever I send them footage. Great guys, keep up the good work.

7. Were you aware of the media attention you would receive when you first started your incredible journey?

I was not. I had no clue this would turn out to be something this crazy. I thought the website would be just for my close friends and close family. I thought I would get maybe 20 clicks per day but it’s a different story right now. Im confused but excited.

To follow Moin, check out his website: http://www.adifferentagenda.com/