Nidhin Maliyekkal travelled from Kerala to Kashmir on his bicycle, promoting tea to fund his journey. The 23-year-old from Amballur in Thrissur district started his journey on January 1, 2021 with ₹170 in his pocket. He returned on April 30, after overlaying 5,647 kilometres.
Nidhin was bitten by the journey bug after he completed his class XII and joined an Car Engineering course in Ernakulam district. “I commuted by prepare to varsity on daily basis. The journeys, often two hours lengthy, grew to become so satisfying that after three months I finished going to varsity and travelled to different locations. No one knew it since I might return dwelling by night. However as soon as the school authorities got here to learn about it, my journey and my research got here to an finish.” he says.
In 2019, he went hitch-hiking throughout South India and couldn’t wait to journey extra. However he needed to put his desires on maintain since there was no cash to fund his journey. “So I began doing odd jobs. I used to be working as a tea/juice maker however when India went into lockdown, I had no job. After I was about to take up one other job after 10 months of unemployment, it was given to another person. That was once I selected this journey,” he says.
Nidhin says that he would have cherished to journey on a high-end cycle if he may afford one. However his youthful brother’s Hercules was all that he had. “He was not utilizing it since he felt it had gone out of style! I assumed I ought to handle with what I’ve. I offered my digital camera — my solely saving — to restore the cycle and purchase the issues wanted for the journey. I made a decision to promote tea in the course of the journey to satisfy the bills,” he explains.
When he began the journey all that he had was “a tent, a kerosene pump range, flask, tea mud, sugar, saucepan, glasses, 4 T-shirts and two shorts. Everybody known as me loopy. My dad and mom didn’t know that I had simply ₹170 with me!”
Nonetheless, by that point, phrase had received round about his journey by way of Fb. Somebody in Kasaragod purchased a helmet for him; one other well-wisher gave him a water bottle; a photostat store proprietor in Kannur made a placard freed from value to repair on his cycle…
Nidhin provides that he had no clue in regards to the path to be taken when he began his journey. It was different cyclists, particularly from Kerala, who helped him out. Language was one other drawback. “All I knew to say in English was, ‘I’m from Kerala, going to Kashmir’.”
He coated the states of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh earlier than reaching Kashmir on April 3. He cycled solely in the course of the day, promoting tea at ₹10 per cup, and largely slept at petrol pumps or at lodging organized by well-wishers. The placard on his cycle, which learn ‘Kerala to Kashmir’ grabbed numerous consideration and he was interviewed by the media and vloggers.
He recollects a number of situations when individuals opened their hearts and houses for him. Malayali associations donated in money and type and a few even felicitated him. “I stayed in Manali at a home run by a Malayali household whereas ready for a Malayali bike owner. They supplied meals and lodging and didn’t take a single penny. Additionally they organized for me to promote tea within the city. A well-wisher in Delhi purchased me a gasoline range. Some gave me garments and ultimately I may afford to purchase a couple of for myself, particularly thermal put on,” he says.
Though it was not straightforward to navigate the roads, Nidhin stresses that he by no means considered giving up. “I believed that I might attain Kashmir some day. The aim didn’t scare me and aside from a couple of incidents resembling a punctured tyre and meals poisoning, the journey has given me solely good recollections,” he says.
And when he was a couple of kilometres away from his remaining vacation spot, Lal Chowk in Srinagar, he was in for a shock. “I observed that 5 autos with armed personnel have been escorting a jeep. They stopped me and somebody received out of the jeep. He hugged me and gave me a couple of issues to eat. It was so overwhelming that I cried. I used to be about to fulfil my dream and couldn’t management my emotion. Later, a mediaperson informed me that he was the Lieutenant Governor [Manoj Sinha]. I didn’t know his title then. I came upon after coming dwelling from Google!”
His plan to return dwelling on his cycle needed to be dropped after he reached Delhi, due to the lockdown. Somebody he had met in Delhi organized for his journey to Kerala in a lorry.
A brand new lease of life
For Nidhin, the journey was extra about getting over a darkish part of his life. “Three years in the past, I went into melancholy and had tried to surrender on life. My childhood was spent in a shanty by the roadside. As a youngster, I needed to cope with low shallowness and social isolation. The journey isn’t a singular one as a result of there are a number of individuals who’ve completed it. However, for me, that is no imply feat and I’m happy with myself. It would inspire others,” he says.
On his bucket checklist are a world tour, climbing Mount Everest and, after all, cinema. “I’ve been chasing my tinseltown desires since my college days. I’ve completed a number of auditions, written tales… ,” he says. The silver lining is that a couple of Malayalam administrators have known as him up after his story went viral. “Hopefully, I’d get an opportunity…” he indicators off.