Normally, an inter-state journey requires money and advance planning. You wouldn’t just hitch-hike to reach your destination.
Yet, that is exactly what Aakash Ranison, a 21-year-old youth from Indore, has done. For him, it is the journey that matters, rather than the destination.
“I have travelled to various Indian cities on cycle, foot or taking rides with complete strangers. I have been doing it for the past two years and I have loved every second of it,” said Ranison, who was in Patna on Friday.
This time, he is travelling to Bhutan on his first ‘international’ journey, and has only a travel bag, a sleeping bag, his mobile and his will and wits to accompany him.
“I began this journey on December 5 (2013) from Indore and covered various cities before reaching Bihar. Interestingly, it was not in my initial route chart, but I reached here with a truck driver who was kind enough to give me a lift,” said Ranison.
Talking about himself, Ranison said he has travelled 15,000 km on bicycle and 45,000 km via hitch-hiking in the last two years.
“I love travelling. Thinkers like Swami Vivekananda travelled a lot to understand his countrymen. This is why I travel — to understand people and my country,” he said.
In two years, he has spent only Rs 30,000 while travelling, that too, ‘mostly on food’.
“Hitch-hiking is free. Some people provide food after they get to know you. As for resting, I go to Gurudwaras or Dharamshalas where food is free,” he said.
“Most people are willing to help strangers. I have had some bad experiences, but they are puny in comparison to the good experiences,” said Ranison, adding, “One common thing I noted, though, is that people want to know about your caste or religion. I normally discourage such conversation, as I am not a believer in religion nor do I flaunt a caste identity,” he said. “This is why I changed my name to ‘Ranison’. It is in deference to my mother, Rani, who keeps waiting for me in Indore, and also serves as an effective tool to shun such queries,” he said.
He also has several interesting experience nuggets to share about different states. “In Delhi, people reply to you if you ask a question. In Mumbai, they normally ignore you, even if you are arguing with them, because they are always short on time. People in Madhya Pradesh will talk, if you do,” he said.
As for the people of Bihar, they love to talk, especially about politics, he said.
He has founded an NGO ‘The Golden Bird Foundation’, under which he conducts such travels. His journeys have attracted sponsors, who provide him with essentials for the journey. On Friday, he left for Sikkim via hitch-hiking, from there he would cycle to Bhutan.