A TRAVELOGUE BY ANKIT ARORA
It’s a general saying these days that humanity is dead and there is no space for love. Only money can win hearts. I don’t know the truth behind this concept but I have been seeing things and instances throughout my journey that refute this claim. I want to share some of them here. When people share their love with a stranger like me then the true face of humanity comes out. The stories are unending and the emotions are unstoppable.
I had very little funds, resources, a cycle and unending dreams of collecting stories of India and its people. Some people came forward to help me with the funds and resources and I finally left a regular office job and my home to seek something unknown every day.
Before starting my solo cycle journey across all the states of India, Nepal and Bhutan, I also did some preparations but I didn’t depend wholly on the preparations. One cannot actually plan everything in advance for a long journey like this. I was going to leave for next 7-8 months and wander alone on the roads of India. So it would’ve been actually impractical to plan everything in advance about the stay and food.
I didn’t expect what I going to experience and who all I’m going to meet during this journey but the uncertainty of my plans had something interesting to offer me. I met many mothers who saw their own child in me and loved me like their own. Some of them still ask about my well being on calls or messages.
I found many homes away from my home.
I found that the generosity of unacquainted families who treated me and cared for me without asking about my religion and cast was greater than anything I have seen among the educated people living in the cities. Common citizens have bigger hearts than many VIPs and the richest of the families. I felt their genuine concern, when I received regular calls from them asking me about my safety. People with lesser resources are more ready to share compared to the owners of bulky properties.
Real humanity can be seen by the warmth and affection that people shared with an outsider like me who was cycling all alone across their cities, towns and villages. I have experienced so much warmth and love during my cycle journey in the last four months. I travelled alone through all the small as well as big cities and for not even a single moment I observed fear from the people. Yeah I did detect negative vibes from some people as they sniff about travellers and adventurers. But this part is negligible and is minuscule in comparison to the vast experiences of positive vibes.
There are so many examples of the love and care I’ve received from strangers who opened the doors of their heart and home for me. A family in Chandigarh helped me with my stay there when they got to know that I am doing this journey all alone, they took me to their home without any questions asked or hesitation. It was amazing to see them taking care of me like their own child.
In Rajasthan, a stranger on the highway stopped to ask me about my journey and within two minutes of knowing me he arranged my stay and food for that night. I had met him for the first time in my life on that day and he arranged my help in every district of Rajasthan through his relatives and friends. My next 1200 km in Rajasthan were taken care of by so many different families from all walks of life whom I met for the first time in my life.
In Maharashtra the families of Manish bhai, Ashish bhai and his friends Puneet bhai received me with great warmth and affection. It’s pure love that these families pack for me in tiffin as food for my day. Manish bhai, a local from Amboli and Shridhar bhai in Karad packed loads of love in tiffins which is still giving me fuel everyday.
Similarly Kishor bhai took care of my cycle in Nashik and repaired it without charging me anything which was an unexpected help. I met another traveller Prasad bhai, who lives in a small village called Wai, an amazing man with a beautiful family. His lovely daughter Khushi didn’t understand Hindi and I didn’t understand Marathi. The only word that made communication possible with her was ‘Kaka’ that she addressed me with very fondly. Prasad bhai’s mother welcomed me with a traditional Marathi custom with all the prayers and blessings.
I entered Karnataka very late in the evening with no clue about my stay and food, just then a passer-by on a bike showed me a thumbs up gesture and offered me to come with him for dinner and stay.
I have endless stories like these from the many states, cities and districts I have crossed and each one is as special to me as the other. Sometimes when I think about all the people who cooked for me in their kitchens, spared a bed for me in their homes and took out precious moments of their life to share with me I get overwhelmed with emotions. I still get calls and messages from every family that I stayed with asking about my well being and whereabouts.
I’ve covered 17 states till date and uncountable districts and villages, I have gained new friends and families and I’ve also lost old relationships on this journey but if I have learnt anything at all is that love and kindness conquers over everything that life may throw at you, just hold on to the handles and keep pedaling on.
Read more about Ankit’s experience on the road in this interview.