Moin Khan: A Biker and a Bridge Builder
By Dr A. Khan
Today, the world has become a global village, but the gap between perception and reality is widening. Truth and wisdom are becoming scarce commodities. Technological tools are being used to create distorted and emulated versions of truth and reality. Global media frenzy has targeted Muslims and Pakistan. The spin masters are busy creating distorted images of reality. It appears that their agenda is to destroy bridges between cultures.
However, Moin Khan, a twenty-four year old biker, and a graduate of San Francisco State University, has a different agenda. He wants to build bridges across cultures. He wants to change peoples’ perceptions about Muslims, Pakistan and America. He planned to hop on his motorcycle and start a 20,000 miles journey from Golden Gate Bridge to Lahore, sojourning on the way, talking and meeting people and telling them: we are Muslims, we are Pakistanis, we are just like you, and we love bikes too.
Moin Khan spent 18 months planning and saving for the trip. His original plan was to save $15,000 by doing three jobs, and surviving on just boiled rice and ketchup. As the planned departure date approached he was short on money. He could only save $9000; rather than wait and save more money, he decided to start his journey with what he had. He took his iPhone, GPS and a makeshift luggage rack, and a tent on his journey. His friends in the Bay Area helped him to fix the bike for the long trip. Moin opted for a sports bike (600 cc) rather than a tour bike (1000+ cc) in order to get peoples’ attention.
On July 1, 2010, Moin Khan revved up his Honda CBR 600 F4i sport bike near Golden Gate Bridge and set off on his long transcontinental journey to build bridges across cultures. From San Francisco, Moin for his first leg of journey took the Pacific coast route to Canada, and then moving through the Midwestern states he arrived in New York; from there he transported his bike to Germany; from there he traveled through Switzerland, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. During his journey he was the recipient of countless random acts of kindness by wayside strangers. Passing through Romania Moin Khan got into an accident, his bike was damaged and he broke couple of bones too. It took about a month for Moin to recuperate and get his bike fixed. Again strangers showed extreme kindness; Romanian motorcycle enthusiasts donated parts for the bike, had it fixed, and transported it for free to Bucharest. Praising the generosity of Romanian people Moin Khan said, “If I ever have a bike crash again I hope it’s in Romania.”
From Romania, Moin Khan started the second leg of his transcontinental bike journey. Traveling through Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey and Iran, he entered Pakistan through Baluchistan, and finally arrived in Lahore via Karachi and Multan, on December 31, 2011. A colorful reception was arranged at the Expo Center, Lahore, too welcomed Moin. He was greeted by the Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif who said that “Moin is resplendent star of the nation…Khan has made a mark for Pakistan throughout the world and has given a message out there that the Pakistanis are a peace-loving nation.”
Before starting the journey, Moin Khan wondered how people would react to him. In an interview, Moin Khan reminisced, “I never had to face racism… But I had heard stories; I thought all they know about Pakistan and Muslims is through Fox News. So, I was a little scared…But whoever I talked to, the first thing I would say is I am from Pakistan and I am going from San Francisco to Lahore.” He further recalled, “Every day I stop at a gas station four or five times and each stop turned into a 30-minute stop. A small group gathers and starts asking questions. It really is mind boggling at times how many people don’t know anything about Pakistan.”
At the Expo Center reception, Moin Khan said that the future of Pakistan is in the hands of its youth. He further said that during his sojourn in 22 countries many people opened their hearts and said that he could stay as long as he wished. But he politely refused their offers. He told them that clearing peoples’ misconceptions about Pakistan and Islam was the aim of his journey.
Moin Khan has documented his journey on a website www.adifferentagenda.com, and Facebook.
Kudos to Moin, a biker and a bridge builder, for promoting peace and love!