I always dreamt of travelling across the villages of India on a bicycle or in a way that would put me in touch with the lives of the ordinary people.
So now it was just a question of what I thought and what I wanted to do in my life. Ratan Tata, the Indian Industrialist defined FEAR as two choices –Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise.
Then came the humbling experience of taking the wrong road and being lost in the middle of no-where without a cell phone, without a wallet, without identity and without water in the scorching 35 degree sun. It just opened my eyes & my mind to a completely new world where I was just an-other human being without the infrastructure & the resources behind me and I had to beg on the street for someone to allow me to make a call to Prague because the only number I could remember from memory and without a phone was that of my colleague Dana. I was fortunate to find the other cyclists three hours later.
Day 2 – Jan 24 – 81 km – Chidambaram to Karaikal and I had a unique problem – my right tri-ceps were totally immobilized & very painful and I could not hold the handle bars anymore so I was riding with one hand behind my back but that day I experienced and saw the hospitality of people who had practically nothing but were willing to invite us into their house & share whatever little they had without knowing or worrying about where their next meal would come from. I realized that being rich was not about how much we had but about how much we could give – so now to me rich or poor are just a state of the mind. It is in the thinking, not in the things.
Day 3 – Jan 25 – 153km – I saw Hiromu San who has travelled 55 countries in the past 5 years on his bicycle – 21 in Europe, 33 in Africa and now India and he would continue thru central Asia and Africa for the next 5 years so literally living on his bicycle for 10 years and he was so passionate about his travels and excited about going further. Wow!!! How Inspiring!!!
Day 4 – Jan 27 – 110 km – Thalivialagam to Thondi – I realized that learning and education are best achieved thru discovery & sometimes I noticed every single drop of morning dew on every single leaf, every single flower, every single bird singing and at other times I was just singing old hindi songs and riding for an hour or two without noticing anything as if in a meditative state – totally exhausted but full of energy and very, very happy.
Day 5 – Jan 28 – 116 km – I received huge support from friends and family with emails, text messages and facebook messages but then something amazing happened – I started to get support emails and money from people I have never met. A student and a pregnant single mother sending 500 czk when they really need it themselves and the list was quite long..……… it was so heart warmimg to see that we live in a world very different from what our televisions and newspapers would make us believe.
Day 8 – Jan 31 – 124 km – Kanya Kumari to Trivandrum – Day 7 was nothing compared to this final day. It was like riding in the Alps with huge potholes and heavy Indian traffic. I learnt to appreciate the first sip of coconut water in the sun, the shade of a tree when you have not seen one for a couple of hours in the scorching sun or the pleasure of lying on hay in the middle of a side road and nearly falling asleep with exhaustion but then waking up with excitement to see what is around the next turn on this last day.