Cycling with an ‘inspired heart’
By Express Features - KOCHI
24th July 2012 11:44 AM
Genetics could probably help isolate the nomadic gene in Akram Feroze. The Hyderabadi lad had started on a tour on his cycle across South India in October 2011 for no evident reasons, after dropping out of college in the final year of his bachelors in genetics. A fall into a 20-feet deep gorge in the Andamans and a four-day hospital stay in Chennai notwithstanding, the 23-year-old says he has had few regrets yet.
On a four-day halt in the capital city, Akram, who describes himself as an amateur theatre artist, stopped by to recount tales from his cycle diaries. “I have named this venture ‘Cycle Natak’ since I am incorporating the concept of a travelling one-man theatre into the travel,” he says. “In fact, it was after I joined the contemporary theatre movement in Hyderabad that I decided to take seriously my dream of travelling across the country.”
The language constraints often become a hurdle in implementing the theatre part of the project, says Akram. “For instance, in interior Tamil Nadu, I could not communicate in English, Hindi or Telugu. On the other hand, I did an English play involving the students of a local school in the Andamans. It eventually earned me some pocket money as well. The parents of the kids were impressed and hired me to conduct a theatre workshop,” he chuckles.
Akram insists that not carrying money lends a different flavour to the wandering. He had embarked on the tour with ` 300 in his pocket. “The original plan was to hit the road with absolutely nothing but a backpack. My parents coaxed me into carrying a laptop and mobile phone and suggested that I take the cycle with me. I am the youngest of three siblings and get away with almost all my crazy ideas,” says Akram, whose weather-beaten face looks older than it is.
“Well, I guess, all that travelling on the cycle does makes you old. My attitude to life has changed so much over the course of this journey,” he says, twirling his overgrown beard that resembles the iconic Che Guevara one.
The accident while travelling through the Andamans had cost Akram his cycle. “Luckily, I escaped with minor injuries. I posted an update on my Facebook page titled ‘Cycle Natak’ and the followers soon collected ` 25,000 for me. I bought a new cycle with the money from Chennai. FB friends had also scraped together the money for my water-proof bag and shoes,” he says.
He finds tackling drunkards the scariest part of it all. “Thieves are another threat. But if you can strike up a rapport with them, they are not dangerous. In fact, I have ended up sharing a roof with thieves.”
The city-bred lad has also discovered that tea shops are the most amicable places in any strange land. “The crowd is always amused by your story and the cycle and more often than not, you will be offered a stay. The other sure-shot way to finding a lodging is to make friends with bachelors,” he says. The latter has worked for him in the capital city and Akram says he has taken up residence with a bunch of youngsters near Gandhi Bhavan.
Akram had travelled to Kanyakumari from Chennai and cycled his way through the coast to reach the capital. He plans to proceed to Karnataka and up towards the north and peddle down to his town via the North-East states.
So what is the one essential that he would always carry with him? Akram stares back, intrigued and resorts to naming his possessions, mulling over their necessity. He dismisses everything from his cycle to his jeans. “Well, my medicine kit perhaps. Otherwise, all you need is an inspired heart.”
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