Ever looked out of the window of your classroom or a workplace just to daydream about one day being a man of your own destiny, of being a free-bird who doesn’t need a pass or ticket to travel to places with beautiful beaches or snow-capped mountains.
Well, if you need any counselling on how to go forward with it, you can talk to this particular gentleman who cycled all the way from Kerala to Kashmir, just by selling tea along the way. Nidhin Maliyekkal, a 23-year-old, hailing from god’s own country, Kerala, began his cycling journey from Thrissur district in Kerala on January 1, 2021 with only a mere Rs 170 in his pocket.
But the lack of funds did not stop him from having a surreal travel experience to Kashmir and back, with the youngster covering a staggering 5,647km till his return to Kerala on April 30.
However, Nidhin, while speaking to The Hindu, he said the trip wasn’t an impromptu one but only a small result of him being a travel junkie. The youngster became fond of travelling after he joined an Automobile Engineering course in Ernakulam district, which required him to travel on a daily basis.
“I commuted by train to college every day. The trips, usually two hours long, became so enjoyable that after three months I stopped going to college and travelled to other places. Nobody knew it since I would return home by evening. But once the college authorities came to know about it, my adventure and my studies came to an end.” he told The Print.
Nidhin, who has gone hitch-hiking across South India amongst many of his trips, spoke on how his trip to Kashmir was actually an end result of things not going his way.
“So I started doing odd jobs. I was working as a tea/juice maker but when India went into lockdown, I had no job. When I was about to take up another job after 10 months of unemployment, it was given to someone else. That was when I decided on this trip,” he said.
At the time when he started the journey, Nidhin said he took his younger brother’s old cycle and just a few other things. He said, “He was not using it since he felt it had gone out of fashion! I thought I should manage with what I have. I sold my camera — my only saving — to repair the cycle and buy the things needed for the trip. I decided to sell tea during the trip to meet the expenses.”
“(I had) a tent, a kerosene pump stove, flask, tea dust, sugar, saucepan, glasses, four T-shirts and two shorts. Everyone called me crazy. My parents didn’t know that I had just Rs 170 with me!” said Nidhin.
But word had already begun spreading around Nidhin’s journey to Kashmir on Facebook, and he found help from unknown sources, with people giving him a helmet, a water bottle, among other things.
Nidhin also says that he was also unsure of the route which he had taken for his trip, however, despite having a language problem, many other cyclists helped him along the way. “All I knew to say in English was, ‘I am from Kerala, going to Kashmir’,” said Nidhin.
Cycling only during the day, he would spend the journey selling tea at Rs 10 per cup, while mostly sleeping at petrol pumps or at accommodation arranged by his well-wishers.
By the time he had reached Kashmir, he had cycled across Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh, a thing which surely gives most people a lot of travel goals.
Of course, it is not easy, but good things never really do come easy, do they?