The Ajala Project presents Moin Khan- a motorcyclist changing the world.
“I have taken a passion of mine, gave myself goals, and documented the trials and tribulations I’ve endured to accomplish these goals. By sharing these adventures with you, I hope to inspire those that have wanted to do the same to take that final step out of the door. I had set out to document the views of the people of the world on the subject of Pakistan, their reactions to stories on my country, and to decrease the gap in the world’s perception of Pakistan”.
When did you start your voyage, what made you choose this project?
I was a student in San Francisco State University, California when I felt the need to change the perception of the world about Pakistan and Muslims in general. I was born and raised in Pakistan, a matter of slight discomfort to some of the people I met in San Francisco. I noticed people sometimes felt uncomfortable when they first met me, knowing that I am Pakistani or the fact that I grew up in Pakistan, but slowly once they got to know me more things got better. That is when I decided to embark on a solo motorcycle adventure from San Francisco to Lahore, Pakistan.
What did you hope to achieve when you started this voyage/project?
I set out to document the views by people around the world on the subject of Pakistan and their reactions to stories about my country, my mission was to reduce the gap in the world’s perception of Pakistan and promote a positive image of Pakistan.
Does your project end or keeps going? What’s your next move from here?
I started my motorcycle journey on the 10th July 2011, a year and a half after I finished college and I saved up money for the same duration of time. I was initially worried on how I would survive with little money during my voyage and this discouraged me from embarking on the journey before. I thought my voyage would end within six months as I had originally planned, it’s been six years now and my journey is not even close to it end.
What lessons did you learn during the course of your voyage?
I am reminded of how compassionate and humbling strangers from all corners of the earth can be, at the end of each border, the beginning of new paths. I invite everyone around the world to come ride motorcycles with me in Pakistan, I promise you that you will fall in love with Pakistan, I set out to change stereotypes about Pakistan in return I learnt a lot about spirituality, communication and love. The adventure has been great so far.
What message are you sharing with the world through your voyage?
People who haven’t had an interaction or have no understanding of our way of life misunderstand us Muslims or Pakistanis — we are just like everyone else, peace loving, happy people. There are good and bad people in every city, in every country, in every religion, through my motorcycles experiences across different villages and cities I have met more good people than bad.
What are the high and low points of your voyage around the world?
I don’t believe I had any low points, I see only highs. In the last 5 years, I’ve met hundreds of foreigners here in Pakistan. They stayed with my family; they rode motorcycles with me up in the mountains, all over the Himalayas, the Karakorum and the Hindu Much mountain ranges. I’m in Chitral now with Nick from Australia and he’s having the time of his life.
There are many issues and conflicts around the world, if you were given the chance to change any of this issues which would you work on?
If I were given the chance to change one or two problems in our present time I would choose, education. Education is truly the most crucial element requiring the world’s attention. I run an all girls school in a very poor village in Pakistan — 72 girls study here 6 days a week and the number keeps growing as I keep adding class rooms.
Is there a place you least expected kindness in all your time on the road?
The last place I expected to see any kindness was when I was riding an old 1950’s bicycle around Pakistan for over 81 days , covering a distance of 2,610Km. I was in Kandiaro, Sindh a very remote village in the middle of nowhere- a guy named Nadeem came and took me to his house, I was hungry, exhausted and without a roof. Nadeem fed me, gave me a pillow to sleep on and made me believe I could go the last few 100 kilometers to complete my bicycle ride. I can’t thank him enough for this loving gesture.
Looking back to when you started your voyage, do you have any regrets?
The only regrets I have before I embarked on my solo adventure would be that I should have trusted my gut and just left the day I finished school. I shouldn’t have worried about the money; it comes automatically when you believe so passionately in something. I hope to inspire people all over the world to be more passionate, more willing to breaking down cultural barriers, become more compassionate, and to strive to never stay in one place for too long. Follow Moin Khan on his motorcycle adventures.
Written by: Moin Khan, Edited by: Bayo Hassan Bello.