"Hey! You must be crazy". This remark made in 2007 by an Italian diplomat in Kabul, has not discouraged 50-year old Fabio Migli from continuing with his adventures across the globe and venturing into hostile territories, where the only sound one hears is that of gunfire.
The only companions that he has during his adventures are his steel grey coloured Renault Dacia and his wheelchair. He has travelled through many countries of Asia and Europe in the car and never takes a flight or ride by a ship or steamer.
The wheelchair has become a part and parcel of his life after he suffered a paralysis attack at his home in Rome when he was 10 in 1973. Despite best efforts of his parents, the attack left him paralysed below the waste.
"This disability made me stronger and infused a spirit of adventure in me. If I meet a disabled person during my adventures, I encourage them to live life king-size," remarked Migli as he showed HT team his car parked at Ramada hotel on Thursday.
He has become a source of inspiration for many in Afghanistan, who had lost their legs or arms due to land mines or blasts. He remembers being in this troubled country in 2007 and travelling from Kabul to the countryside.
"People used to gather around my car. As I could not communicate in their language, I used signs to convey them that disability cannot hinder a person from moving ahead provided he has the will power and strength," Migli said, adding that people lived a simple life in Afghanistan and they were friendly.
(Fabio Migli, Italian tourist who only travels by his self driven car. Munish Byala/HT)
Passion for adventure
A self-employed electronics engineer, Migli has undertaken numerous adventures in his car across the Asia and Europe since 1983, when he first got his driving licence. The first car he had was a Fiat Panda, but later switched over to Renault, which has more space.
"My car is specially designed for me. I can sleep in it and can even make a cup of tea inside," he said as he got off his wheel chair without any help and climbed onto the left-hand driven vehicle.
Explaining some of the broad features, he said the accelerator and clutch are on the steering wheel and are hand operated. All seats can be lowered to make a comfortable bed and there is a small cooking device inside.
"I prefer to sleep inside my car. When I am in the countryside, I sleep inside the vehicle and if in a city, like Amritsar, I prefer a hotel," he said, adding that he saves a lot of money this way.
He also showed a drum that he fills with water and then with some help mounts it atop the car. He then fits a shower to it and can have a bath.
"It was wonderful having a bath in the open in Ladakh and in Thar Desert," he said.
Though he has undertaken several tours, but the present one will be the longest as he will be reaching home after being out on the roads for six months. He started from Rome on April 20 and after passing through several European countries like Bulgaria, Slovakia, Bosnia and Turkey, he entered Iran and then Pakistan.
On June 24, he entered India through the Wagah border and on Thursday he bade a warm goodbye to the holy city and its people to
head back on the same route through which he had come. In India, besides Amritsar, he visited Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Srinagar, Manali, Ladakh, Varanasi and other cities and towns en route. He also went up to Katmandu before heading back and moving to Sikkim and then back to Delhi for a visit to the Italian Embassy.
"I have travelled around 2300 km so far in this tour," he maintained.
His first trip to India was in 2004 and since then he feels that India has made lot of progress. "The roads have become wider, but the vehicle population too has increased," he said while saying that he did not experience any difficulties in the left-hand drive.
"I made friends wherever I have gone and people have been helpful," he said while pointing out that on his arrival here on Wednesday, he took his car to the local Renault showroom and they did not charge a penny for the services they provided.
A soft-spoken man, Migli is not in the habit of finding faults with others or with nations and never discusses politics when he is on the move through countries. For him, every country or city provides the best possible services to tourists and visitors.
A bachelor, he keeps a written account of all his travels and adventures. Perhaps, someday he will pen down his memories.
"I will be back to India, as I still have to see the southern parts of your country. Moreover, I want to see the east nations like Thailand and Singapore," he said as he tucked himself behind the steering wheel and sped off, waving his hand.