Swapathgami Cycle Yatra 2020 - 7 days of Romance with Nature & Life

Updated: Nov 12, 2020

The Beginnings - 26th January 2020

This is a long due story which I have been meaning to write about one of the most romantic weeks of my life. Romance means a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love. And I find no better word than it to describe the 7 days we spent on our cycles, roaming around the serene villages of Kerala with no penny in our hands.

Swapathgami Cycle Yatra was a seven days journey taken up with the idea to understand our relationship with Money. About eight months ago, I got introduced to the idea of abundance and gift economy, an ideology that believes that there is enough in the world for everyone. The idea that there exists a space of trust wherein even poorest of the people open their doors and hearts for anyone in need. Cycle Yatra presented an opportunity to test these ideas. A group of 16 people, assembled from different parts of India at a beautiful space called Farmer’s Share in Shoranur, Kerala. What brought us together was the shared spirit of adventure and the goal of understanding our relationship with money. The idea was to travel on borrowed bicycles - many of which were old and unused for long - for 7 days with two pair of clothes and simple bedding. No money and no phones.

When we sat together before the yatra began, and dear friend Rahul who is the Co-creator of Travellers’ University who organised the yatra shared that we will not be carrying our phones with us for seven days, I was ready to abandon the Cycle Yatra and go back to Bangalore. After a lot of conversations, I finally gave up and thought to myself to give it a try. It was clear in my head that if it doesn’t work out, I would put my cycle in a truck and come back to Shoranur and find a bus or train back to Bangalore. I finally started my yatra with my mind excited and full of doubts. I wondered whether this would turn out to be another stupid decision taken in the spur of the moment. At the same time my curiosity to experience the generosity I have heard people talking about was kept me upbeat.

Who will give us food? Where will we sleep? Probably on the roads was what I was thinking.

My curiosity was answered soon. People in the villages gazed in awe at the trail of 16 yatris on cycles of diverse age group. The youngest with us was 12 years old Adwait and the oldest his father Suresh who was 54. I was cycling after 12 years, struggling to pedal my old and heavy cycle ahead through the topsy turvy roads amidst the beautiful terrain of Kerala. People came out of their houses, curious to know what are we up to. With no common language to communicate, I would use hands and gestures to talk to realise that so much can be spoken without words. We did have four Malayalam speakers with us; Ashik, Alwin, Sarath and Shruti who carried out complex conversations. My first experience with generosity of people was when two women came out of their house, stopped us and offered us lunch when we told them that we are travelling without money and phone.

From then, all my doubts were shed, and I knew that we will be fine. I finally surrendered.

We moved little further and a lady on the way stopped her scooter again with a similar curiosity. It was noon and knowing that we hadn’t had lunch, she directed us to a temple where an Annadanam - a practice of offering food to the villagers as a part of the temple festival - was going on. We cycled around 7 km in scorching summer of January to find the temple. It was a typical Kerala meal that was served which I ate as much as I could. Being a North Indian, and little fussy when it comes to food, it was little bit of a challenge. But since there weren’t other options I respected what I received.