Miracle in North India

There's a theory called the six degrees of separation. If you took all your friends and acquaintances, and then all their friends and acquaintances, and then all their friends and acquaintances, and so on six times, you would know everyone in the whole world. That's how tiny and connected our world is! Amazing huh? Well, my adventure cycling across India has pushed the limits of this theory. Buckle up, and read about the miracle than happened in North India.

Throughout my trip I have been giving talks to schools, businesses, sports clubs... anyone that will listen to me jabber on really. In Mumbai I spoke to two cycling clubs and a running club.

This is amazing! We love what you're doing.” three guys came to tell me afterwards. “We'd love to help you.

They formed a Whatsapp chat group, and began adding family, friends and distant acquaintances who happened to live en route. “My brother lives there. You can stay with him.” said one, very matter-of-fact. “And I have friends 100 kilometres further” another chimed in, volunteering their friends apartment. Their dream was to connect me with as many people as possible further ahead who could help me out.

I had been sceptical, but by the time it came to leave Mumbai, incredibly, I had strangers anticipating my arrival, looking forward to hosting me for the first 700 kilometres (7 nights). I cycled away amidst a flurry of selfies. 20 people had turned out at 6am to cycle the first 10 kilometres with me, the newspapers were there and someone called Vish who I hadn't even met had volunteered to drive all my bags to that evening's location, a 260 kilometres round trip. I felt at the centre of a movement; all these people had been inspired by meeting me and wanted to help me out. Little did I know this was just the beginning...

Leaving Mumbai with a Forrest Gump style following; stopping to buy a newspaper on the way - look who made the front page!

The first night I stayed with the Marathe family, relatives of the wife of Jayant, a kindly man I had met in Mumbai. I was welcomed with generous portions of food and treated like family. I slept well, had a large breakfast and set off with a packed lunch, and people awaiting me further down the road.
The second night, I partied with Akshay and his wife, friends of Nikhil.
Third night I stayed with Jay and Kethki, family of Vaishal.
The list goes on.

These days were pure, care-free joy. I was mocked by my bike touring friends (they were just jealous!) who couldn't believe how easy and vanilla my trip had become... and I wasn't even going to argue with them, they were correct! I had a shower every day, instant noodles were a thing of the past, and my clothes always smelt fresh. Best of all, I cycled knowing each evening I had new people to meet and hang out with.

The Whatsapp group continued to grow. From its humble beginnings of a handful of guys, it had grown beyond what any of us could have envisaged; Offers poured in from as far away as Malaysia and Australia. Accomodation was arranged every night for the remaining three weeks in India. Where no tenuous link could be found, my friends in Mumbai contacted cycling clubs, somehow persuading these complete strangers to host me. Where no cycling clubs could be found, they had amazingly convinced hotels (and I'm talking fancy hotels... sometimes royal palaces) to offer me a complimentary stay. I was in India ten weeks. Only three nights I had to camp and once I had to pay for a hotel.

One night I was having dinner with a family who had offered to host me, but I already had an arrangement elsewhere. As I left they handed me an envelope, wishing me a safe journey. Later, alone, I opened it to discover 5,000 rupees ($75 /£60) inside. I fell down and began to cry, paralysed and overwhelmed by this remarkable display of generosity from people I had scarcely known a few hours. I couldn't hold back the tears. Nor could I understand why I was actually crying.

Only now do I realise it was love. Teardrops of love.

What I experienced in India was pure altruism. All these people went above and beyond to help me, expecting nothing in return. Their acts were simply the most genuine and authentic display of support for my undertaking. They believed what I was doing was important, and they wanted to play their role in that.

People often look to me as a hero, telling me how amazing my cycling adventure is. But I can unabashedly say that it is these people who are the real heroes.

To everyone I met.., 
Thank You. A million times.


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8 Replies to “Miracle in North India”

  1. so touching and teardrops of love

    1. It still gives me goosebumps when I think back!

  2. Spellbinding story…with truly awesome characters! It is wondrous to be reminded of the heart and soul of humanity. Moreover, that you bring the best out in the many folk you encounter must make you a rather special soul too. Perfect reading for a chiily Sunday afternoon and a perfect distraction from school work! Thank you, Jo!

    1. I’m glad you liked it! Your comments remind me why I take the time to write these blog posts when I get the chance! Thanks Michelle

  3. Koen Everaert says: Reply

    Every single day on average two people die of hunger or thirst in British hospitals.

    That wouldn’t happen in India. I didn’t have to pay anything when I walked into a hospital in Chennai to

    remove my stitches. Incredible but true!

  4. Jo, the dictionary defines a hero as:- a person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities, for having done something very brave or having achieved something very great. You quite rightly credit the amazing people you meet as heroes and indeed they are. I am indebted to them forever for the kindness they have shown to you. Thank you seems inadequate but it is truly heartfelt – THANK YOU.

    Jo, I believe, you are also all of these things. Thank you for being you, for pursuing your passions and following your dreams (even when I wish your dreams would see you head home for a hug). Thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone (your siblings will be eternally grateful you’ve made it easier for them to move away, I mean what can be as far as Australia?). Jo, thank you for being amazing, thank you for being an inspiration. Thank you for being you.

    I love you loads. Big hugs xxx

  5. Wonderful
    Simply amazing, awe inspiring journey.
    This post actually made me cry, such incredible kindness and generosity is so humbling.
    Thank you for sharing this.

    1. Great to know you found it as powerful as I did. A truly incredible experience.

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