When Deepak Sadarangani started walking from Pushkar, he had Rs 60 in his pocket.
On October 14, he started out on a whim and took the first road to the highway. “Because, I wanted to see how far I can go,” he says.
Why? He throws up his hands, he cannot explain why he decided to walk and hitchhike through India. He didn’t know where he was headed. “To give some destiny to my travel I thought maybe Shirdi, in Maharashtra,” he says. Maybe there was also the curiosity about this country. This gemologist was raised in Spain, but he is of Indian origin.
So, he filled up two bottles of water and started to walk. In his first stretch, he covered 15 km in four hours. He rested and set off again. This time hitching rides from truckers and anyone friendly enough to offer one. Along the way, he decided to write a book on his way through India and so started taking down notes.
He travelled to Rajasthan’s Nagaur and then Jodhpur. Then from there, he travelled down to Surat, in Gujarat, through Palanpur.
“You will be shocked how friendly people are on the road,” he says. People have offered him stay, food and even money.
On the way, in Rajasthan’s Rankapur, he was out late in the night and a man on a scooter slowed down next to him.
“He told me not to keep walking on the highway. It is not a good time.” It was nearing midnight. “Then, he invited me home to stay.”
Deepak was wary of taking the invitation. “It was too generous. I was worried if he would rob me or hurt me, but I went anyway. But he turned out to be sincere.”
On November 1, after his stopover at Shirdi, Deepak travelled down south and reached Bengaluru.
In most places, Deepak stayed in temples and churches, which took care of his meals. In this city, he went to Byappanahalli police station and asked a police officer for help. “I told him that I was hitchhiking through the country and writing a book. He immediately asked one of his subordinates to take me to a lodge in CV Raman Nagar. There I was given free stay and a nearby hotel offered me free food.”
Deepak’s next stop was Madurai. “I did my laundry after 15 days on the road.”
He set off to Kanyakumari next and reached the very next day.
Kanyakumari was his destination after Shirdi. But he couldn’t bring himself to end his travels here.
He trekked through Nagercoil and entered Kerala. Here too he found accommodation and food with the help of churches and a police station. “In Kerala, all the towns and villages are close by. So, I would hitch a ride for 2 km or maybe 5. It still took me a while to cover its length because there were so many beautiful points along the way.”
Through all the adventure, he had to spend little from his pocket. “People offered me food and stay. I had to spend on the water bottles, then Rs 10 for flowers in Shirdi, then Rs 10 to mend my trousers (which had a tear from when I jumped down a lorry), Rs 5 for entry at Tipu Sultan fort and Rs 4 for entry and keeping shoes at Hampi. There is some change remaining from the Rs 60 I started with.”
Deepak thinks maybe he will end his journey in Tamil Nadu’s Rameshwaram. “Rameshwaram was the closest to the neighbouring Sri Lanka’s border. So maybe, I thought I’ll end my journey there.” He did go there but he knew he would keep going.