Sievituo Chevy a.k.a Yakuza Solo is travelling the world on a bamboo bike he made himself. His mission is to spread the word of Nagaland and human kindness. Nagaland is one of the smallest states in India (Kohima is the capital), somewhere between Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Nagaland abounds in falcons and bamboo. Christian missionaries are responsible for Nagas giving up on animism which is ironically, so totally back now. Oh well.
I was fortunate to have Chevy as my guest, here in the city of Brooklyn. What a delight. Earlier this year, I was following his journey through the Balkans. The Balkans – that’s my Nagaland. A site of an Asiatic backpacker with dreadlocks on a bamboo bike somewhere in a distant Serbian village is nothing short of a scene from Kusturica’s movies.
Chevy speaks smiles and everyone gets those so he had no problems communicating with the villagers.
Admittedly, I wanted to check out his bike up close. I’m a total sucker for bamboo bikes. Bikes&Humans sells them, I have one, and talk about ‘em all the time. So old school and so cutting edge. You can make one yourself. Each is unique. Bamboo is never killed when harvested. Naturally dampens vibration. So pure and authentic. Bamboo has a soul.
This wasn’t Chevy’s first visit to NYC; as he noted, it was his first time visiting as his changed self after so many months of travelling. I asked him what changed and he just looked wistfully somewhere beyond me and said – I listen to people much more nowadays. He had spent 4 years biking across the world. Chevy is an urban monk, romantic Naga Hillian hipster.
Living in NYC changed me. I’ve grown a thick skin. I’ve learned self-reliance. I’ve accustomed to the ways of the city. Gradually, I became a New Yorker, though I was still quite inevitably Serbian (whatever that meant). Chevy came, enchanted with Serbia and Serbians, having a hundred beautiful stories to tell. It has been a long time I’ve spent a couple of days with another human being in NYC involved in non-lucrative activities. A time focused on the experience, not the end result. Humans pour l’humans. Bamboo pour l’ bamboo.
After his first day of exploration, I asked him how his day was. He said he saw a father standing with two screaming kids on the street. One of the kids was cursing. The father looked at Chevy and said – I don’t want them to curse but I don’t want them to stop talking either, whatever they talk about. I’d rather have them grow up having a voice. Chevy then told me – He’s right for letting them speak; growing up, I was never allowed to speak among adults. And, I’ve lost my voice. It’s an Asian thing.
That was Chevy’s story after spending a day in NYC. It was a story about humans, recognition, and wisdom. What you seek is seeking you? Chevy has a rare gift of showing up for humans in an authentic way. He’s a natural like that. He has a wide smile and raw charisma. Old school, almost knightly, gestures and boyish lightness of being. A talented storyteller with integrity. He reminded me how lonely and productive I am in NYC and I reminded him not to be afraid to want what he desires. Bamboo creates genuine connections.
While his trip is funded by generous patrons, Chevy also finds time to support a community organization in Kohima, Project 72h, which promotes recycling through street art and other innovative actions. He will, eventually, go back to Nagaland and, kick-start a small production of bamboo bikes.
Kate of Bikes&Humans: What cycling means for you?
Chevy Solo: Everyone knows that cycling is very healthy and it keeps you in good shape. Besides that, you get to experience the outside world and bring like-minded people together and create this beautiful energy. Like how I met you, and many other cyclists around the world.
Kate of Bikes&Humans: What inspired you to build your own bike?
Chevy Solo: People and places inspired me so much so that I can travel the world on a snail pace and write more stories of different souls I meet on my way.
Kate of Bikes&Humans: What are 3 things everyone should know about Nagaland?
Chevy Solo: 1. We are Nagas. 2. We are proud to have rich culture and tradition. 3. You must visit Nagaland to know the remaining facts.
Kate of Bikes&Humans: What are your best and worst moments travelling around the world?
Chevy Solo: The best moments are when people share their food and space with me regardless of our differences. Being on the road all the time, I have some bad days, but nothing more than that. Maybe losing my bike would be the worst moment.
Kate of Bikes&Humans: How did your trip change you?
Chevy Solo: After travelling to thousands of towns, hundreds of cities, dozens of countries and couple of continents, I am kinda aware of this world now and how awesome people are everywhere. Personally, this trip didn’t change me, but it changed my circumstances. I used to be good at giving excuses, now I always look forward to bringing a solution even if it takes time. In short, I am more positive than before. And it definitely makes me humbler.
Kate of Bikes&Humans: Why bamboo?
Chevy Solo: Because it is available in Nagaland. Some of the strongest bamboo species are from Nagaland. And it’s eco-friendly, innovative, unique, beautiful, and anyone can build his/ her own bamboo bike.