It was the kindness of strangers he met along the journey across UP, Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu that made his effort an experience of a lifetime.
“I was just another guy, stuck in the corporate hustle, for years. I always liked travelling. One such trip to Jammu & Kashmir with my friends changed my perspective. The roads there are extremely narrow and next to one such road was a dhaba, where we decided to eat.
Within was a family and a truck driver with his helper. The family left first, but on their way out, they scratched the parked truck. The man at fault, instead of accepting his mistake, started yelling and insulting the truck driver.
Throughout the episode, the driver kept quiet and eventually the family left. I was expecting the driver to be angry after the episode, but, instead, he was polite. He went on to explain how important truck drivers are for the economy, yet, don’t get the respect they deserve.
The kindness of the driver made me think. We can use money to buy anything, why not give kindness a chance. I decided to not use a single rupee for the ride, food or stay and I just set off,” says Ansh.
In Chennai, he resides in an apartment in Nungambakkam with a stranger who reached out to him as soon as he posted on Facebook that he is in town for three days. His Facebook page, Let’s Roam, has a record of all the incredible journeys he has been on. There were days when he walked for hours and stayed without food.
“I was travelling from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer. I hadn’t had food for 40 hours and I just couldn’t find a ride. My body was giving up and I wanted to quit. Just when I was about to, a speeding car stopped and offered to give me a lift for Rs 200. I proceeded to tell him my story and he offered to help. He works as a driver for a star hotel.
Badal Khan, the driver, took me to a hotel, where the staff took care of me, and dropped me off 45 kms away for free. He still calls regularly to check on me and has made me promise that I will make my family talk to him once I reach home,” explains Ansh.
From five-star hotels to tribal areas and from roadside camps to strangers’ apartments, he has seen it all. He was even arrested in Kerala.
“The forest officials saw the silhouette of me carrying my phone mounted on a mini tripod and thought it was a gun. They arrested me and only after checking my backpacks did they let me go. In a way, I am glad it happened because it was raining and the station was a shelter.” His biggest challenge now is to travel to Andamans.
“I have to resort to flights and ships, but I don’t want anyone to sponsor my tickets. There are people helping me get in touch with the authorities of container ships for this.” He has covered over 10 states and has decided not to go back home until he covers the rest.