Sushant Ajnikar: Making a difference, one road trip at a time.
Born and raised in Mumbai’s suburbs, Sushant Ajnikar is a biker at heart. On weekdays he also moonlights as a Graphic Design Manager here at Urban Ladder. Since he refuses to be separated from his bike for prolonged periods, his other interests play well with biking.
Trekking, photography, nature, and animals are all things that he can hold forth on, without tiring. Wait, we’re not done*. Sushant is driven by an unquenchable wanderlust, and has a major soft spot for animals (did we mention that already?) He rode solo on his Enfield, across the country for 9000 km to spread awareness on adopting Indian street dogs.
We snatched a few minutes from this wearer of many hats, and juggler of many interests to chat about what fuels him.
What inspired you to get out of your comfort zone and be the change you want to see in the world?
I’m hugely inspired by Baba Amte. He gave up everything in his comfortable life to be able to help unfortunate and underprivileged people. He equipped himself with knowledge across different subjects that he could draw from, should the need arise. His resolve, discipline and willingness to keep learning… it’s a great precedent. He was very clear about what he wanted and his leadership uplifted the downtrodden. He had tremendous influence, but was so wonderfully humble – it’s a rare combination. It’s honestly something I aspire to possess some day.
Why bike across the country for our street dogs?
Indian street dogs are a legitimate breed, much like the pedigrees we all love. I want us to recognise them as that, a breed, and not strays or a nuisance. When I go on bike rides, there are so many dogs I come across, and I stop to feed them. It’s my tiny drop in the ocean, for what I hope becomes a movement. Bikers have this image of being rebellious, sometimes reckless, and if we can be agents of change, it’ll shift the way we’re seen. The other thing is bikers are a very visible lot. We stand out on highways, and if by our actions we can draw attention to improving the lives of street dogs, then why not?
It’s not easy to juggle all your passions. How do you push yourself?
The plight of the Indian dog pushes me to do more. I know a simple bike trip won’t change much, but I really believe that even the smallest effort is better than none at all. I have 3 very pampered dogs at home, and when I see them so happy and comfortable, I am reminded of the dogs who don’t have it this easy, and it fires me up to do more.
How do you manage your work when you’re away for extended periods?
I usually inform my team, weeks in advance about my travel plans so we can schedule launches and work accordingly. I also try to complete as much as I can where big projects are concerned, and ensure that whoever takes over from me, is up to speed with the different assignments I’ve been entrusted with. I am also fortunate to have worked with colleagues who look out for me, and accommodate my passion.
Adventures are one of the best ways to learn. Do these journeys motivate your work?
Absolutely. The journeys teach me patience, focus, and the art of letting go. It’s given me the tools I need to be disciplined, to do my research and to be ready to change, should the need arise, just like I would do on the road. When I’m taking in the sights, the myriad colours, textures, scenes, new places, all of this imprint on my brain. I file them away for reference when I’m working on new projects, or when I’m looking for inspiration.
What’s the dream, the ultimate goal, the big plan (you get the drift)?
Our [my wife’s and mine] dream is to be able to open a place for all the souls deemed “unwanted” by society. We want to employ transgenders and differently abled people, abandoned senior citizens, et al. With a rescue shelter for dogs attached. We want to be able to give these people jobs with proper salaries so that they don't end up begging on the streets. I also want to undertake a world tour for Paws of India, that’s definitely on my list.
*Ok, we’re done.