THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: When they started out, Barack Obama was still a hopeful wannabe and India’s moon mission was yet to lift off. Forty-four days later, they were down a few kilos, clean-shaven faces had sprouted scraggly beards and their world had changed a lot.
Three techies - Anoop John, Cherry G. Mathew and Sooraj K. - on Friday evening ended a 44-day, 1,500-kilometre trek from Kasargod to Thiruvananthapuram at the Christ Nagar School, Kowdiar here by planting a sapling.
In their epic ‘Freedom Walk’ through 14 districts, the team spread the messages of ‘Freedom in Society,’ ‘Freedom from Environmental Issues,’ and ‘Freedom in Software’ and promoted activism around these freedoms.
``The first two days were a bit painful. We were targeting 30 km a day,’’ Sooraj said, sharing the team’s experiences.
When they started out on October 2, the team had four members. But Prasad, an independent consultant in Thiruvananthapuram, had to quit at Angamaly after he developed serious stomach ailments.
The team visited all the district headquarters, interacted with students, common people, shared experiences and importantly - savoured their homeland.
``I’ve visited about 30 countries, but I hadn’t seen Kerala. This is the most impressive experience I’ve had,’’ said Cherry. The story of how it all came about is interesting. Anoop and Cherry are college-mates and co-founded Zyxware Technologies, of which Anoop is the CEO. They both met Sooraj, who works at Ascent Engineering, on October 2, the day they embarked on their unlikely Odyssey.
``We all caught fever as we entered Wayanad. So we could not enjoy it fully. But it is a place to be seen,’’ Sooraj reminisced the best moments. ``You have to walk Kerala to really experience what we have done.’’ Anoop and Cherry carried backpacks - light ones - while Sooraj lugged the laptop. They blogged whenever they could (you can find them on www.freedomwalk.in) but at the end of the day, they found even that tedious sometimes. ``We had to start at 6 a.m. and sleep at 10 p.m.,’’ says Anoop.
The trio mostly kept to vegetarian food, to avoid gastronomical problems. ``But even then we experienced food poisoning once or twice,’’ Anoop said. They feel that they succeeded in their mission to popularise free and open source software. ``We believe we have raised a few questions. Free software has four basic freedoms - freedom to use, freedom to modify, freedom to learn and to distribute,’’ Anoop said.
They stayed overnight wherever they could. Panchayat halls, church verandahs, homes of friends and guest houses. They had decided not to stay at places where they would have to pay. But the people they met were the most interesting part of the trip, they feel. ``People used to stop and ask, why are you doing this. What’s in it for you? The walk gave us an opportunity to see how people behave. Our experiences ranged from the extremely aggressive to the most pleasant,’’ Anoop said.