The Inspirational & Unknown
People Who Became Backbone of Our Tour
One fine evening, sitting in a cool café of the town and suddenly a crazy idea hits your mind. You become out of your mind and start telling that idea to others, which no one minds! Yes, something like this we did in the month of Feb 2016, Cycling Across India 3300 km and that too on the path which was not that easy. Not the normal plain one, but the one full of hills, costal winds and barren lands. On the other hand universe was conspiring something else for us. So something similar happened with us. Our journey became more about meeting people and getting more inspired to do something better for in life for us and society. Filling us with positivity and energy to contribute more and live like humans and not just machines. So, here is the story of people whom we met before beginning and during the tour in chronological order and it’s about their stories.
1. Tina Aunty, Sanjeev Uncle, Sam and Deep | Mysore
Tina Aunty and Sanjeev Uncle runs a really cool café in Mysore known as Tina’s Café and I think they were the first people in Mysore to know that I am going to cycle this long and Sanjeev Uncle warned me with sarcasm that I may become invisible by the end of the tour ! They supported us with our first travel meet up and it became first milestone of our journey which was yet to begin. Everything about the café is a story in itself, the aura and peaceful environment, which use to attract me there almost every day. They supported us and made us believe that we can do it.
Sam, who did more than 15,000 km cycling from China to London last year became our another source of Inspiration and Deep who did cross country cycling in India also motivated us and even came to see us off on the starting day and met us again in Mumbai, Sam also came to see us off but we started half an hour early ! Sorry Sam.
2. Partibhan Sir | Chikmagalur
As we just started our tour without any big plans, there was something else planned by almighty and we started meeting people like us. Second day of our tour and we met Parthi Sir, an ex-Air Force in beautiful coffee town of India, Chikmagalur. He managed to arrange a Rotary club meeting for us, where we presented our views that why we are travelling across India. All thanks to him and members of Rotary Club who gave us chance, encouraged us and gave us idea to do something like this again and again. At the same time Parthiban Sir is also a founding member of Kevla Trust which is spreading healthy lifestyle and peace in society. He is himself a traveler and the zeal to help others like a pure defense guy is still intact inside him.
3. Kasturi Ajji | Agumbe
I use to know about her, but never imagined to meet her and that too without any plans. So, she is an amazing lady, some 70+ years of age might be much more; actually I didn’t ask her. Brightness like a child in her eyes and face glowing with aura of happiness with complete grey hair and some wrinkles on face. If someone wants to learn hospitality, spend some time with her. She is living example hospitality i.e. the art of serving people. Her home is on the top of a hill village in the rain forest of Western Ghats in Karnataka, near Shringari Matha. Peaceful, clean and untouched from stupid tourists, this village is. She hosted us like many other travelers crossing her village. We stayed in her home, known as Dodde Mane. There was no mobile network in the village, except BSNL so in short life was peaceful for one and a half day. I am feeling scarcity of words to describe the beauty of village and the jungle. However, Kastuari Ajjai can’t do everything alone; so, hats off to the family members who are involved with her in helping the travelers. Their passion to serve is exceptional and I must say she is full of life and we are searching the same on social networks and mobile phones.
4. Yan | Gokarna
A difficult character to describe! Yan is a senior citizen from Holland and we met him in Gokarna. Sadly I don’t have his picture. Might be I may meet him again in the same cottage next time. So, he is a traveler, who spends six months every year in India traveling on his cycle with havoc. He doesn’t carry any mobile phones or GPS for direction and says that he believes his intuition for everything. If his intuition says to take a turn, stop over, stay there or anything he do it that way; and he never faced anything bad in his all journeys. He collects waste from beaches and recycles it and gives it to poor. He calls himself an Indian sage born in Holland. He told us that, you guys are modern Indian travelers, first a kind of generation! You may meet him in Gokarna or any other place in Karnataka riding his cycle. Different.
5. David Uncle & Aunty | Old Goa
Meet a rebel of 1960s! Yes, when everyone was busy with small talks this man was traveling across Himalayas. David uncle hosted us in his home in Old Goa; he is Sangeeta’s friend’s father and a great story teller. In Goa all we wanted to do is to sit with him and listen to his stories of traveling Himalayas or doing a bike tour across Karnataka to find a good college for his son in late 50s. He constructed his home on a hill of Old Goa, in middle of nowhere and his balcony is so connected to nature that one wants to sit there for as long as possible. Looking over to Old Goa from far and Mandovi River flowing peacefully from his balcony was a different experience. He made us imagine the air and it’s sound, nature touching our feet and that session of 10 minutes with closed eyes opened the whole new world to us. Aunty runs a school in Panjim and made us give lecture to teachers, for the first time in our life. Bought up in Tea Estates of Assam, she understands nature and its importance. The time we spend with them was more than anyone else in our tour, but still less. Hope to meet them soon and share stories with Aunty and Uncle.
6. Kundan | Goa
It is Impossible to move ahead without the story of this fellow with an extraordinary zeal to serve society. He is well settled with a government job, from Madhya Pradesh. Right now posted in Goa in one of the department, people dream of. But the story is not this; the story is that how he takes out time to serve children in a orphanage. He finishes his office by 06.00 pm comes to his second home by 07.30 pm to teach children of different classes and different subjects till 11.00 pm in the night. Sleeps there on his makeshift bed, wakes up early morning to take classes again for next 2-3 hours and then get ready for his office. And this is his routine every single day. In last few months he has changed the mindset of children living in the orphanage that they can also achieve something and make their own name. The way he feels responsible for them is amazing. It is not possible for everyone to dedicate his life once you have a comfortable job and best salary, but what Kundan is doing is remarkable. Please support is cause in this way, what we can do is contribute our bit to the society. He invited us to the orphanage to talk to boys and make them feel that everything is possible; you only need courage to think.
7. Heroes Without Name | Mumbai
I really wanted to write about two special people I met in Mumbai, but it’s about the other two. We met them in Vashi, Mumbai, exactly in front of Ghansoli Railway Station. We were riding towards Nashik and halted there for breakfast. As I wanted to eat only idli, I was not ready to stop at any bada pav shop. Finally I saw one cart and asked Kamal to eat there. They were from Tamilnadu and served us good Idli and Dosa. We asked them the exact road to Nashik and they came to know that we are cycling across India. We went ahead to have some juice with cycles parked there only. By the time we came back, they were ready with two bags full of snacks and water bottles to give us. They said that; how they can leave us without giving anything. We must carry these items for the roads. Their generous behavior made us think that how world is portrayed to us in a bad way and how good people are. I don’t know their names, but that doesn’t matter, I may meet them again eating their Idlis.
8. Nikhil and Shekhar | Nashik
We met him in Nashik for the first time in our life, but believe me; I didn’t feel it for a single second that I don’t know this fellow. We met like old friends and within 2 minutes he asked us, rather I would say, ordered us to stay in Nashik for one more day than planned. As we were really tired after cycling on Mumbai Nashik highway, I though it is a good idea and accepted the idea. Nikhil is a tax consultant and traveler from Nashik, he loves to meet and host new people at his place and he doesn’t mind to even close his office you are cycling across India and staying with him for a day. A complete enthu and amazing personality he is. That night it was 02 am in the night and we were planning and talking and he suddenly says, why you guys are not doing a Meet up in Nashik. Within next 15 minutes, he created a event on facebook, selected the spot, invited his friends and everything was done.
The spot was Chai Tapri, another cool café and meet up place in Nashik, after a day full of local adventures we reached there by 07.00 pm only to get more surprises. The team of Chai Tapri was more excited than us for the meet up and within next few minutes we were sitting with few environmentalists, ex-defence, youth crowd and few more people. We met Shekhar Gaikwad of Nashik who initiated a movement with his team of volunteers and planted 11,000 trees and planning to do more in coming years. Not just that, he and his team also takes care of plants, which is rare. So, if you are in Nashik next time, do make a point to have a delicious Bun Maska and Tea at Chai Tapri. Thanks Nikhil for all this, you are an amazing personality!
9. Vikram Singh Rathore Sir| Dhule
What a heavy weight name! So, Mr. Rathore hosted us in first planned city of India, Dhule. He is living in a joint family with business of jewelry and heart of an adventurist. He has done almost all the treks of India and he is a consistent cyclist. In a city where you can never imagine someone hosting you on couchsurfing, we found one and that too with joint family. Personally I was in a surprise shock for few minutes for than we were in comfort of a family environment which we desperately needed in exactly middle of our tour. Amazing food of home and taste of Dal Bhati Churma, let me assure everyone; I still remember the feeling of eating home food after so long. The way he manage his life of business and passion for adventure is an example that anyone can do it, and everyone should so it. He told me when I asked him about this balance, he said that it’s easy to find an excuse but difficult to follow your passion. It was amazing meeting him and his family, want to meet them soon again.
10. Anil Mudgal & Arushi | Bhopal
Imagine giving your whole life to a cause which is near to your heart, serving society like a unsung hero and expecting nothing in return. We met Mr. Anil Mudgal, founder and volunteer of Arushi, an organization working for people who should be part of our society but are not on the name of being disabled. This journey started as a student, when he use to read books for blind children along with his brother and has come a long way since then. Arushi is a place, where you can feel that everything is alive, building, pathways, rooms, instruments everything. You know why? Because people feel everything there in the building, and work in that way. It is not easy to imagine the cause, for which he dedicated his life with love. People only takes interest in this sector only if they have someone in their family facing the problem, but not true in case of Anil Sir. Arushi hosted us in Bhopal, invited us to their annual function, “Ek Taal, Ek Saal” and although I tried my level best but I cried by the end of the program. They are making heritage monuments and Indian Railways in India accessible to all by installing Braille script instructions and many more initiatives like this. Anil Sir and his whole team is doing a job which everyone can’t do. I don’t know how, but I will try to become a part of the team really soon.
11. Akansha & Jeet | Bhimtal
Again a couple full of life and passion to do want they want! After ending our tour in Kashipur, Uttarakhand; we drove all the way to a small village near Berinag. They are the one who helped us to connect with Arushi in Bhopal. They are the one who are living their life on their terms. They work with different NGOs as volunteers for several months and go for a new one, once the project is complete. They have worked in Coorg, Goa, The Great Himalayan National Park, Berinag and now they are settled in Bhimtal. They also conduct mosaic workshops in Bangalore. Most of the stuff packed in the car and ready to drive anytime along with their dog “Muniya” a Himalayan breed. Believe me or not but they motivated us to live what is known as life.
This small blog is just a method to say Thank you to all of you ! Who willingly or by chance became part of our journey. Let's try to stay in touch and meet as much as possible is this small journey called, Life 🙂