Adventures of an Indian Ulysses - The New Indian Express

Adventures of an Indian Ulysses

Published: 18th May 2014 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 18th May 2014 09:11 AM

Not all those who wander are lost.” These words by author JRR Tolkien surmise the endeavours of Limca Book of Records holder Suresh Joseph. A traveller and author, Joseph has undertaken many road travel expeditions and has quite a few records to his name. He aptly sums up his experience when he says, “When you go to a new environment, and meet and stay with people, you become much more tolerant. It makes you a humble person.”

The man who is at home on the road on June 16 will set off in a Ford Endeavour on a 75-day, 24,000 km journey from Kochi to London. It will travel through 27 countries, which includes Nepal, China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, France, Ireland and UK.

Joseph will be accompanied by noted Mollywood film director Lal Jose and journalist Baiju Nair. “The trip is expected to cost `75 lakh, but, thankfully, we have got some good sponsors,” says the 56-year-old travel enthusiast.

Talking of his humbling experiences on the road, Joseph recounts how one evening in November 2010, he arrived at the North-East border town of Khawdungsei, which is the link between Manipur and Mizoram. He had no place to stay. Soon he spotted a church and near it was a house which had the sign, Pastor Quarters. There were three men working in the yard. As a woman served them tea, Joseph asked her whether he could speak to the pastor. Suddenly, one of the labourers stood up and said, “I am the pastor.” Rev. R Lalsiamliana was wearing a torn vest and a pair of shorts. Joseph asked whether he could spend the night in the church. The pastor happily welcomed him without asking who he was. “Later, I had dinner with his family. I cannot imagine anyone in a big city doing something like that,” Joseph says.

Earlier, Joseph embarked on an all-India trip in a Swift and was able to touch 28 state capitals and 17 railway headquarters. Joseph is the former chief commercial manager of South Western Railways. Later, he was the CEO of Dubai Port World. The journey lasted four months and covered 23,500 km. In the end, he wrote a book called, Ek Swift Bharat Yatra: The Journal of a Railwayman’s Journey Through India.

Thereafter, Suresh did several trips, which enabled him to set eight national solo records in the Limca Book of Records. He was the first and the fastest to drive a four-wheeler from Leh to Kanyakumari and back again (7,659 km), the first to complete an expedition from Koteshwar, Gujarat to Bakkhali, West Bengal (6,996 km), and the first to travel from Tezu, Arunachal Pradesh to Koteshwar (3,799 km).

To ensure that he has a successful drive, Joseph follows certain rules. “A driver has to respect the road,” he says. Interestingly, Joseph has a symbiotic relationship with the car. “My car is a living being. I talk to it, like I would to a partner. I believe that my car has a soul. I have challenged it and it has always come good,” he says.

The people have been good too. “Indians have a great heart. They don’t even want to know who you are before they offer hospitality. Secondly, despite the tremendous diversity from Jammu and Kashmir, Goa, Tamil Nadu to North-east, the people have a tremendous resilience and fighting spirit. They will do anything to ensure that their family is safe and comfortable,” Joseph says.

Asked about his insatiable thirst for travel, he signs off saying, “There is a Ulysses in all of us. Unlike most middle-class people, I have been able to satisfy my wanderlust.”

Joseph has earlier undertaken an all India trip—travelling through 28 states, covering 23,500 km

Kochi to London 75-day 24,000 km journey 27 countries

Records Speak

■Suresh Joseph has eight national solo records to his name in the Limca Book of Records

■He was the first and the fastest to drive a four-wheeler from Leh to Kanyakumari and back again (7,659 km)

■The first to complete an expedition from Koteshwar, Gujarat to Bakkhali, Bengal (6,996 km)

■The first to travel from Tezu, Arunachal Pradesh to Koteshwar (3,799 km)

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