Couple of weeks back, I decided to take a penniless walk from Mumbai to Delhi as a trial for my next year’s penniless hitchhiking journey from India to Portugal. The idea behind the walks are to experience generosity and observe how a humans reacts to another human who is strangers to him and penniless.
Today, 12th August 2014 was my first day of the penniless walk from Mumbai to Delhi. I was supposed to start at 8 am but could not start before 9am. I also planned to walk for 60 kilometers and thought to stretch it to 75 kilometers to reach Asangaon. But could not walk more than 25 kilometers and finished my day one by 9pm at Sri Darmesh Darbar Gurdwara, near Eastern Express Highway in Shivaji Nagar of Thane – West.
I left the house after having one glass of milk. As I was about the exit, I requested the building guard – Mr Manoj Gupta – to take a picture of me with my backpack. I thanked Mr Gupta and started walking. As I was only 200 meters into my journey, I realized that the bottom layer of my right foot’s shoe sole is half broken. I tried to find a cobbler and thought to request him to fix the sole and explain him about the walk but I could find one. I was not sure what do and I kept walking. I started following the Mumbai Metro route as I reached Versova station and was still thinking about the shoe sole in back of my mind. While walking, I was looking at the pillars of the Metro bridge and noticed a heart shape painted in while. The symbol made me so happy and I thanked the universe for making me see such a positive thing in the beginning of the journey. I took a picture of the symbol and followed the Metro bridge.
It was rainy day and cloudy but I could feel the heat because of the walking. So I decided to take 30 minutes of break when I reach Powai Lake. By the time I reached Powai Lake, I took several 5 minutes stops. As it was my first day and I do not have history of long walking, I went wrong on the calculation, which I made in terms of kilometers to walk each day. I reached Powai Lake around 1pm and ate one of the protein bars, which my flat mate gave it to me. This was the first time in my life I had such kind of bar. While resting on the bench at the lake, I met a kitten that was trying to make connection with me. I responded back and played with her for sometime. As the 30 minutes were over, I started walking again and by that time I realised that today I will not able to go beyond Thane.
By the time, I reached Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay (IIT-B), I saw a cobber and asked him if I rest at his shop for 5 minutes. He sweetly said yes and started doing his work. While sitting at his shop, I was constantly thinking if I should request him to fix show sole or not? Will he fix?, etc. Just before leaving, I said to him, “I need you help! I request you to fix the shoe sole but I do not have money on me! Will you please do it?” With a straight and confused face he refused. I said thank you to him for letting me rest and started walking again. As I was just 300 meters away from him, I realised that this time shoe sole of my left foot has broken. I looked at the sky and kept walking.
Around 4pm, I decided to take rest at a teashop. After 10 minutes, one of the guys at the shop asked about my backpack. He asked me, “What do you do?” I smiled at him and said I am walking Mumbai to Delhi without money to experience generosity. He was shocked! A guy sitting next to him, started asking me, Why? How? I explained them the reasons and the next questions comes, “What about food?” I smiled again and said, “I have firm believe that I will generous people on my journey and the universe will take care of me.” All this while the shop owner was quite and doing his work. In the meanwhile, I observed that it has started raining. I took my raincoat out and started walking. As I was about to touch the road, one of the guys who came to have tea at the store requested to have tea. There was a big smile on my face to meet the first person on the journey that helped me on his own. We started talking about life and other stuff. I took pictures with him for memories, said good-bye and I was back on the road.
After an hour I was very hungry and decided to request a street side fast food seller to feed me, as I was hungry and also told him that I am hungry. Before I could add anything else, he refused. I smiled at him and started walking. I did not lost hope and did the same drill after 300 meters. This time I was able to add about my penniless walk. And I was told no again. I smiled again and started walking. The next second Mr Naresh, one of the cart owners, asked me to stop and offered me snacks. I thanked him and started my meal. While eating, a friend of the Mr Naresh asked me the same thing what others have asked! Why and How? I explained them while I was finishing the food. At the end of the conversation, Mr Ashok – friend of Mr Naresh – said to me, “Once you cross Maharasthra, you will come to know who is generous and who is not!” I smiled at him and said OK. After I finished my food, I was offered tea. While having tea, I asked Mr Naresh, “How do you feel when you help people?” He said, “I feel good” and started doing his work again. I insisted him to explain me at least few lines. He gently said, “I am always so busy in work that I do not get time to think about anything else!” His answer made me realise that today we humans are so busy in our work that we do not get time to think anything new. Then what’s point of this work and money? Please think over it.
I said thank you to Mr Naresh & his friends and started walking towards Thane. As I was approaching Thane border, an auto rickshaw driver stopped me. I was asked if I need to go anywhere and I said with a big smiley face, “YES! Delhi.” I quickly added that it is a walk from Mumbai to Delhi and explained him everything. He wished me good luck and started approaching other people as approached me. I could understand that he did not ask me much because it was his working hours.
After I entered Thane, I decided to spend night at Thane Train Station. While taking towards the train station, I thought why not try to spend night at a police station, as police are there to help public plus it would be an interesting night. So approached a nearest police station, which happened to be Naupada Police Station. I started explaining about the journey to the police officers and they listened to me quietly. Once I was done, they gently told me that we have follow laws. This place got people like robbers, thieves etc and we cannot take responsibilities if anything happens to you. I quickly said that I am ready to give in writing that I will be responsible for anything happens to me but I was still sweetly said as we have to obey laws we cannot let you be here and they guided me towards to the nearest Gurdwara.
It took me 10 minutes to walk down to the Gurdwara and as I entered, I was asked What’s Up? Who do you want to meet? I explained them my journey and they were very much happy to let me spend night at the holy place and also requested me to have dinner.
Today’s experiences involved the interactions with the Universe, God and Humans.
Thank you so much for reading and I will write more soon.