This sports broadcaster undertook a journey from Bengaluru to Delhi. And this was a journey unlike any other. Dominic Franks hopped onto his Hercules DTS and started riding. The entire journey took him 22 days and on returning, he wrote a book about it called Nautanki Diaries.
A doctor by education, Dominic always loved the written word. “I have been a fervent reader since childhood. Books are like a great escape into someone else’s world,” says Dominic.
Studying medicine was a demanding task, and not quite his cup of tea. “I realised that I had to study really hard to establish myself. And this was not something I wanted to do at 25. I got the chance to participate in a reality show Harsha Ki Khoj. I didn’t win but landed an internship and later a job with a sports channel,” he says. Dominic still works in sports broadcasting, and does his writing on the side.
Nautanki Diaries is about his cycle ride from Bengaluru to Delhi. “It’s a regular cycle, nothing special. The idea of the trip came from my sports coach in school. He once mentioned to us how he had cycled from Bengaluru to Delhi and this stuck with me,” he says.
Dominic, an alumnus of St Joseph’s School in Bengaluru, was passionate about exploring new cities on a cycle. After working for four years in the corporate sector, he quit his job, came back to Bengaluru and tried to write, but it didn’t work out. Around the same time, the Commonwealth Games were about to start and since the thought of exploring the country still had him excited, Dominic met up with his coach and asked him how to prepare for this trip. “H. Shivaprakash, my coach, gave me a plan and things just fell into place. He called Nautanki a ‘poor man’s Maruti 800’. But the good thing about this cycle is that it kept the back straight rather than at a 45 degree angle. That doesn’t put any pressure on the back, and is perfect if you’re cycling 7 to 8 hours a day.” he says.
He had planned to cycle 100 km a day and stop every 5 to 6 days for a day’s rest. Dominic and his team wanted to complete the entire journey in 23 days, just in time for the Commonwealth Games. The total distance was about 2,100 km. The people he met made the journey more amazing.
He recalls an incident, “As I got closer to the destination, I was proud that I was able to come this far. But close to Agra, I met a person who was on a pilgrimage. He had walked for almost 3,500 km. That humbled me.”
Once his trip was done, he started the book in December 2010, and completed it by February 2011. “I never wrote at home. It was always at my friend’s house or at the reading room in Bangalore Medical College. I sat in the foyer and wrote, not wanting to disturb the other people studying there. I clearly remember the day I finished the book. It was a Sunday, I started writing early in the morning and by 8:30 pm the book was complete. I went out for coffee and by the time I came back someone had flicked the laptop. I had lost the entire manuscript with only 1/3rd of the book saved. I had to re-write the rest again,” he adds. Publishing Nautanki Diaries took time as it had to be re-written.
One-book-old, Dominic says he doesn’t really have a writing style but just lets ideas flow. Dominic feels it is heartening that there are so many new Indian writers now, and feels it will be interesting to have authors writing in their regional language and getting it translated into English.
“My dream job would be to become a professional reader,” he laughs.