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Safarnaama | 2020 i1 | The TU Newsletter | Jan-June

Swapathgami Cycle Yatra, Central Kerala  

Swapathgami Cycle Yatra in January is the only yatra we hosted in 2020 so far. It was a weeklong journey on cycles through the picturesque landscapes and terrains of Shoranur and Palakkad in Kerala. The intention was to experience real power without money and real connection without mobile phones. We as a group of 16 yatris from different parts of the country experienced a different kind of generosity and kindness, given the vulnerabilities of moneyless, gadgetless yatra we collectively decided to embark upon. 

Here are detailed accounts of the yatras shared by our sahyatris. 

Non-Profit Registration

We registered ourselves as a Non-Profit organization named ‘Sahyatri Foundation’, a Section - 8 Company in January 2020 to develop the initiative on a larger canvas.

Aagaaz, Himachal Pradesh 

‘Aagaaz - A Yatra exploring the Self and the World’ was designed specifically for youth in transition. It was envisioned as a  self-explorative yatra, with the idea that understanding Self doesn’t happen in isolation, only with an understanding of the World. The 15 days yatra along the Kangra Valley in Himachal Pradesh would primarily cover the domains of Ecology, Education, Economics and Social Justice. 

Ashik and our intern Ayush Jain travelled through Dharamshala, Bir and Palampur in February, meeting with individuals and organisations working in the mentioned domains to design the yatra. The yatra planned for May 25 to June 7 was pushed to an unknown timeline following the COVID-19 crisis. 

2069? : The Youth Fest, Sardarshahar, Rajasthan  

Rahul participated in the ‘2069?: The Youth Fest’ hosted at Gandhi Vidya Mandir from Feb 26th to March 2nd along with 100+ other young disruptors from various ecosystems across the country. We all came together to seek possibilities and create a shared vision of tomorrow, for the world we want to handover to our future generations. We embraced the challenges of our work, tested our dogmas and preconceived notions we inherited from society. We co-learned and celebrated new friendships to serve and heal the world together. 

Learning Societies unConference, Sardarshahar, Rajasthan 

Ashik participated in the LSuC held in Rajasthan from March 4th to 8th this year. It was the largest gathering we were part of this year, before COVID-19 turned to a pandemic, with more than 800 participants of all age groups from across the world co-creating the learning festival. 

We made new connections and rekindled old ones at LSuC. Ashik as well had the chance to interact with the students of Institute of Advanced Studies in Education who were the co-hosts of LSUC, where he shared his journey of learning and unlearning. 

A Call to Confront and Resist Hate, Sambhaavnaa, Himachal Pradesh 

Rahul participated in a workshop “A Call to Confront and Resist Hate” hosted by Sambhaavnaa Institute of Public Policy and Politics  in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh from March 11th to 15th. In the past few years in India communal hate has become one of the biggest issues which has been destroying the foundational and core principles of the nation. As a concerned citizen and organisation, TU believed that it is our responsibility to be more learned and aware of the ground realities and work towards love and harmony to preserve the plurality and diversity of this vast land.  The workshop was an opportunity for us to understand the history, origin, nature and the narrative of communal and caste-based hate, and to explore counter-narratives to confront the same. The workshop gave us an opportunity to meet with like-minded people and explore collaboration opportunities to work on this issue in the future. 


Ayush Jain, who was our sahyatri in Swaraj Yatra in March last year, connected with us in December, wanting to explore possibilities of interning with us. He was a fellow at the Naropa Fellowship and wanted to design a learning journey covering the cultural heritage and alternative initiatives addressing the challenges of the Ladakh region. Ayush joined us in Bangalore in January, Rahul personally mentoring him. 

During the two months internship period, he travelled with us through four different states, participated in the Cycle Yatra in Kerala, involved in designing ‘Aagaaz’ in Himachal Pradesh and participated in ‘2069? : The Youth Fest’ and ‘LSuC’ in Rajasthan. 

Mina Farzana, a resident of Kozhikode and final year Masters student in Social Work approached us in May to do an online internship. She wanted to explore the domain of ‘Alternative Education’. 

During the internship period, she explored various philosophies of Education, alternative education models, and interacted with individuals working on different projects and ideas to build her understanding. 

Here is an article she wrote about her interaction with Mihir Pathak, a self-directed learner.

P.S: We are inviting young learners to design their own internships with us. 

Exploring Swaraj 

Ashik initiated an online study circle ‘Exploring Swaraj’ starting from the end of March, to explore the relevance of ‘Self-governance’ and ‘Self-reliance in today’s time. Planned as a series of 7 sessions, it went upto 19 sessions spread across three months. The study circle was co-created by 9 seekers from across the country and beyond.

Here are two articles shedding more light on the same. 

Addressing Covid-19 

At the beginning of the lockdown, India was not only fighting with COVID-19 but a much bigger crisis, millions of our brothers and sisters were struggling to reach their home, walking thousands of kilometers or stranded in cities with no or very limited access to food, water and shelter. In the meantime, few of our friends (neighbourhood heroes) were constantly serving on the ground across the country to support our fellow citizens in this overwhelming time. By each passing day, they were struggling to serve people and running out of funds. On one normal (restless) day of the lockdown we along with a few other friends from Swaraj University and Conscious Connections came together to brainstorm ideas to support our neighbourhood heroes, and in the next couple of days we launched a campaign ‘Bridge Karo Na’ to raise funds for them. Through this campaign, we were able to raise INR 5.35 lakhs and hosted 4 events to raise awareness about the cause. The campaign was an effort by us to become a bridge between our neighbourhood heroes, people who felt the same pain as we did, and who were stranded in this overwhelming crisis. 

Team TU amidst lockdown

After a long journey of two months that started from Kerala with several halts, as Rahul reached Delhi post mid-March, he sensed that there was going to be some big steps taken, to resist COVID-19. Realizing the uncertainty ahead, he decided to stay with his parents and went to his hometown, Bhilwara, on 19 March. On the same day afternoon, lockdown was implemented in Bhilwara city due to multiple cases of corona appearing. He was deeply hurt during the early days of lockdown by the plight of the migrant labourers. There was a whirlwind of emotions in his heart. With the help of a friend, he started raising money to help the labourers.  But as the problem was getting more serious with each passing day, his work also became intense. But the truth is that this work gave him a purpose in the overwhelming and helpless time.  With some effort, he was able to raise about Rs 12 lakhs for the fellow citizens who were stranded between hunger and COVID-19. This effort reminded him of the thousands of crazy people like him in this world and made him realize that did not have to travel this journey alone. The work and ideas of Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar, Bhagat Singh have been brought to us by heroes like Vinoba, Lohia and JP, now it was his responsibility to add on to their work and hand it over to the next generation. The lockdown made him understand that the journey is very long, and that it might take many generations to fix it. If he ever became tired in this journey, he would look for a garden or a beautiful tree, rest underneath for some time. He would take a breather, extract perfume from flowers, cover it on his body and he would be out on the journey again.

Even before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, Preksha woke up to the news of classes moving online. The hysteria on the campus was palpable. After several rounds of transitions during this short time, she eventually graduated amidst pandemic. Yay!! She is in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is grateful that she has access to a beautiful river and public parks that she can visit while maintaining the public safety protocols. Cooking, cycling, yoga, and reading have kept her going, and she is grateful to her community of people with whom she could share her inner journey during this time.

Ashik reached Thrissur, his hometown a week before the national lockdown in March. He has spent time growing vegetables, cooking, reading and contemplating. He spends hours just observing plants and how they grow. His favourite among the lockdown reads are ‘The Jail Notebook & Other Writings’ by Bhagat Singh and ‘The Book of Disquiet’ by Fernando Pessoa. Something that has recurred for him during the lockdown is that creation is of utmost importance to him. 

Ashwini reached his hometown Dehradun from Delhi, about a week before the national lockdown was announced. It has been a strange time for him, not being able to travel for a long period after many years. He has been spending time doing some readings, cooking and lately cycling around the beautiful landscapes of Doon. 

Travelsations - Conversations on Travel 

We saw a surge in online interactions and sessions offered during the lockdown. Team TU was as well invited for a few such offerings. 

Ashik spoke about ‘Travel as a Self-Educative Process’ in a live interaction hosted by i-Lab Kozhikode. He was as well invited to share his experiences of ‘Learning through travel and Sustainable practices’ in an event collectively hosted by PNV Foundation Bhubaneswar, Youth for Sustainability and Udyam. 

Rahul was invited by Travel Dirty to share how his gap-year project 52 Parindey lead to the creation of Travellers’ University. Another webinar he spoke at was on ‘Gap-year and Budget Travelling’ organised by Asmakam

Sahyatri Corner

Aatmana the project as a step towards self-reliance shaped from the discussions at ‘Exploring Swaraj’. Mahima, Aishwarya and Adarsh who participated in the study circle along with two of their friends have initiated this series of weekly webinars starting from 28th August with the aim to replace Market in different arenas. Inviting you to make your own daily use self-care products with them. 

Find out more details here:

Taboodana by Jim Tharakan holds virtual spaces for listening, discussing and learning to rationalize topics one finds uncomfortable to address, ranging from sexuality, death, relationships, etc., which have tendencies to entangle one and lead a life governed by Fear, Shame and Guilt. The spirit of Taboodana is to be Untwisted and sorted about it. Upcoming workshops. 

The Insignificant Other - 

Personal Profile Writing - 


P.S: The pdf version of the newsletter is available here:

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