Ever wanted to go on a solo trip but didn’t go because of the fear of the travel costs? Well, a 23-year old fellow, Vimal Geethanandan is giving us major travel goals as he travelled around 11 states without even spending a single rupee.
Astonished how? He only carried a makeshift tent, a sleeping bed, three pairs of clothing, a laptop, a phone and a power bank with him on his trip. He started his nine-month journey from Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh in July 2016 and concluded his trip in Kolkata in March this year.
Vimal travelled by trains, where he was helped by other people for the tickets because he was determined not to travel without a ticket. He told that he hitchhiked on cars, buses and even trucks to travel different places. This was only possible because he was a great survivor and had an immense faith in people.
In total, he visited 11 Indian states – Maharashtra, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, West Bengal, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Goa.
Vimal is an engineering drop-out student from JNTU, Anantapur. He was raised by a single parent, but he never worried for his future career. When asked, how he convinced his mother, he told that his mother already knows he is a survivor and she cannot stop him from following his passion. He also adds, that her mother agreed upon one condition that he will update her constantly about his whereabouts.
Recounting his journey, Vimal says, “I lived every moment of it. I cried when I felt lonely which made me feel more alive. Travelling is usually associated with being happy. It’s not really, according to me. It’s about sulking too, to help you realize what you should be actually concerned about.”
He always talked about his plans for such kind of trips with his friends but he always failed to persuade them to follow his footsteps. So, he decided to set back an example and take this journey.
In the first half of the journey, Vimal travelled from Anantapur to Bangalore, and then covered all of South India. Later, he travelled to Maharashtra and from there visited Assam, Meghalaya, and Nagaland, and finally concluded his trip at Kolkata in March.
He actually had plans to tour the entire country but his family had to shift from Anantapur to Bengaluru, so he kept his journey short and helped them in relocation.
There were many instances that strengthened his travel plans and overall supported his journey. One of the instances he recalls is meeting a truck driver named Asgar. When asked about the truck driver he told, “I met Asgar while travelling from Anantapur to Bengaluru during Ramzan. He is a truck driver as well as a news supplier. He basically shoots footage of road accidents and sends them to news organizations. I never knew of such a profession. He gave me a lift too. When he realized that I hadn’t eaten, he bought food for me even though he was fasting. I was moved by it. This kind gesture removed even the slightest fear I had about the journey.”
Incidents like these made his belief in humanity even stronger. ” I sought help through social media to tell people about my location so that they could help me and provide shelter. Many of them saw my posts and showed great hospitality,” he recalls.
He also recounted another touching incident which he shared with us. While he was travelling to Kerala, he visited a tiny village in Munnar. There, a family provided him with shelter and gave him food. It was a small hut with just a cot, and they gave him the cot and themselves slept on the floor. “I can never forget them. I had the best fish curry there,” he adds.
He has now planned a sweet gesture naming it “giving back” which he wants to do for people which made his journey so fruitful and beautiful. He invites all the people to his place to show them the same kind of hospitality which they showered upon him on his journey. He says, “Without their love and help, I wouldn’t have finished my journey.”
He now plans to devote his career for the concerns of sex workers and wants to diminish human trafficking by setting up a social enterprise for the same. What pushed him to set up this enterprise was his visit to Sonagachi, a red-light area in Kolkata. He said that he saw so much exploitation and abuse, which disturbed him a lot and provided him with the clear picture of the issues and problems faced by sex workers.
India definitely needs such good humans. If even one of us start believing in humanity, each one of us can be a good human. Vimal gives us great motivation that we start exploring our surroundings and keep faith in humanity.