Physically, Moin Khan fits the archetypal Marlon Brandon-esque, leather jacket wearing, Triumph motorcycle riding rebel.
But once he starts talking this biker-rebel archetype gets confused and replaced with that of a concerned nationalist slash nonchalant, down to earth guy looking to uphold the continuum between his dual American-Pakistani identities.
I caught up with Khan when he landed in New York, having just ended the first leg of a journey that will continue on till the end of this year.
As he hovered at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, waiting for a flight to take him across the pond to London, he let me in on the public as well as the undisclosed, unpublished details of what is quickly becoming recognized as a global and unprecedented adventure.
On July 10th, Khan embarked from the Golden Gate Bridge in his city of San Francisco on a 25, 000 mile motorcycle diaries-esque journey that will take him around the world, back to his hometown of Lahore, Pakistan.
Now, nearly two months into his journey, Khan’s clocked 6300 miles on an odometer designed to collect that amount in a couple of years.
He’s touched both the western and eastern coasts of North America—traversing both the US and Canada—with 110 pounds in addition to his own body weight.
He’s done all this on a 2002 Honda CBR600 F4i—a small, quick sport bike built for racetrack racing.
And, with half his journey remaining, once his bike’s shipped to Germany in mid-September, Khan will pick up where he’s left off, climbing down the Euro-Asia landscape towards Lahore.
Just what compelled this twenty-four year old recent San Francisco State University grad to leave a comfy, well-paying position at a San Mateo start-up?
“It was not just one thing” which spurred him into action, Khan says.
“Everything feels like it’s going down the drain [back home]. In the last six years [abroad] I haven’t read one positive thing about Pakistan. Personally we [Pakistanis] know the good things” adding as a poignant example, “Coke Studio is doing a brilliant job—I have friends here I share links with and they love it – but Laal Masjid, to Zardari in power, to match-fixing, to suicide attacks—I haven’t seen one positive thing in the news”.
But during his epic, solo journey, Khan isn’t just suffering from delusions of grandiosity. Instead, he recognizes the complexities of singlehandedly addressing the far too many negative impressions of Pakistan aired in front of a global audience in this year alone.
“I wasn’t thinking it would be me. I wasn’t planning on this. All I was thinking: there has to be one thing—from such a large population—there has to be one person, one thing, that one time."