Out of India – Fantasy & Struggle
An 8 minute read
After a week long ride from Istanbul, I rest in the ancient city of Thessaloniki, Greece. It is cool outside. A light drizzle in the sky. Water runs down cobblestone alleys all the way to the sea. A buzz of excitement in my head. A vibrant city with a grand history. I crossed the gateway from Asia to Europe via Istanbul. I leave the open road to do what it will. The next leg will continue to be challenging. It will test my perseverance as mountain climbs, chilling cold and empty roads shine the way. I have an intended route as I weave across Eastern Europe and then down into Africa via Sicily. But, if history has taught me anything, all planning will be nothing more than smoke and memories in a few days. Nothing is constant. The road is as static and unpredictable as our weather. An update from Europe will follow. I now reflect on my final days in India. To the open road and nameless questions ahead.
I flew to Istanbul from Delhi. It seemed like the most logical place given my original plans. Had I been able to continue my unbroken route around the world, I would have already been there by now. Problems with Iranian Visas and an impending Kazak winter, shot me down to India for a whirlwind loop tour spanning 3800km from Chennai to Delhi. Reflecting back on those days, I can safely say that they were my hardest and some of the most rewarding so far. The crushing hum of the traffic was relentless and the sights were like no other.
During my ride through India I experienced dreadfully dark days and extreme exhilaration. Some of these highs and lows were often in the same afternoon. I saw amazing architecture and landscapes. Temples, Mosques, beautiful beaches, mountains, marshes, forests and complex ancient cities. Beautiful flowers. Wildlife living in its purity and amongst humanity. From cows and monkeys to rare birds, elephants and camels. I ate like a king for next to nothing. Tasting a wide dichotomy of foods from South to North. The food changed with the road. Regional dishes are my favourite. Vegetarian dishes that would blow your mind. Experienced the best physical fitness of my life. I camped all over. Was welcomed into local homes and shared many meals. I slept on roofs and in backyards, at truck stops and in villages. I met too many kind people to count. We shared stories and laughs. I never really felt alone, because I never was. There is always something happening. I met up with my parents as they took a leap outside their comfort zone and paid an eye-opening visit. Experienced intense pride when seeing the site of the next school in Verdara. The energy that India emits is addictive. You never know what is around the next corner.
I also saw the struggles of an ever expanding India. True heart-wrenching poverty. Some days it was all I seemed to see. The real look of urban migration. Dusty villages with dying crops. Children begging in the streets for their parents or for themselves. The garbage cannot accurately be described. I dodged traffic all day sometimes. I got hit once by a man with an onion cart. Oncoming cars, trucks and bikes going the wrong way were relentless. Selfish passes that continually endangered my life and chased me off the road were the norm. Close calls that I really don’t even like to think back on. Horns of all kinds blaring at all times. Honking for honking sake. Never have I seen so much roadkill. A dog eating a cow sticks out especially. Getting food poisoning and feeling doomed in a dirty home clinic looking up at a dripping IV. Repetitive questioning and curiosity were both a blessing and a curse. I am stronger for it all.
It was more than a whirlwind. Each day I woke up ready for the challenge. I could never tell you were I would be at the end of each day. I quit guessing myself. Am I glad I came and tackled the Indian Sub-Continent? Absolutely. I learned a great deal about myself. My boundaries and my limits. How far I can push myself and when I need to stop. I took beautiful photos and experienced a world I really knew little about. I now truly appreciate an oasis of quiet. India even offered a few tranquil getaways along the way. I saw the Taj Mahal, ancient forts and intricate temples. They were all amazing. But, it was never about the sights. Cycle touring is not about the destination, but what lies in-between. Those sights are just placeholders on a map. The smiles and struggles along the way are what is important. That is what I will remember.
***Have a look at the work being done by Free the Children in our current fundraising community project of Verdara, India. The road to the second school. To see an overview of my experiences in the village CLICK HERE.
To help the community of Verdara CLICK HERE TO DONATE.
Posted on February 23, 2015, in Adventure, Around the World, Charity, Cycling, Food, India, Inspiration, Motivation, Thoughts, Travel, Turkey and tagged Adventure, Around the World, Awesome, Beautiful, Bicycle, Challenge, change, Charity, Cycling, Dreams, Excitement, Experience, Explore, Free the Children, Freedom, happiness, India, Inspiration, Looking Back, motivation, Mountains, Oneadventureplease, People, Poverty, Powerful, Reflection, The Road, Thoughts, Travel, Travel Photos, Travelpics, values, Wealth. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.