Byju Keezhara is a man on a mission. He is an activist and an adventurer rolled into one. In this series on travel and people who travel called Travel Tuesday, we bring you the story of this unassuming young man and his 'bicycle diaries.'
I don't travel for pleasure
I am from Kannur and my earliest memories of traveling are from one theyyam performance to another. My father used to work as a sound technician at festival grounds and he used to take me along. We used to walk or go on a bicycle. After school I worked as a newspaper boy – again my best friend was the bicycle. As days went on, I got associated with a lot of activities and my interaction with SEEK was an eye opener.
I attended camps on conservation and nature and since then all my travels have been related to this cause. I have not really traveled for pleasure. I have been to most of the forests in Kerala and worked closely with many great people.
The life of common people doing unusual work has inspired me. Most of them do not even want to be famous. I have told my family that my life is dedicated to the people around me. They support my crazy plans. When I am not working as a welder at a construction site, I conduct nature camps and introduce people to the forests and the greens. And I find time to travel the length and breadth of the country and spread the message of harmony and peace.
From Kanyakumari to Ladakh
A trip from Kanyakumari to Ladakh was a dream. And my neighbors helped me realize this dream. My meager income could not cover the expenses of a trip like this. My neighbors sponsored the entire trip. I set out on September 16, 2015, from Kanyakumari and rode the whole way to Ladakh. It was an eye opener.
I had a rough idea of the places I would be traveling. But what I had not factored in was the heat. So I used to ride more during the afternoons. I have never really had an issue with languages while traveling across India. I know a bit of Hindi and English in addition to my native Malayalam.
For my Kanyakumari to Ladakh trip, I wanted to spread the message of nationalism, secularism, environmentalism and adventure. I got posters and pamphlets made about this cause. I go talk to students in schools and colleges. I have always been given a warm welcome at most of these places.
People across the country are warm and friendly. I have been offered food and a place to stay many times during my trip across the country. I have also undertaken a trip with a young boy from Kanyakumari to Kerala.
I love to take everything in my stride. I go with an open mind and I have soaked in the culture of the land I travel to. I love to eat the food of the land. I have eaten dog meat, dosa, dal fry and vegetable dishes with equal relish during my trips. I wanted to feel the cold air on my face. The nip in the wind on the ride to Khardung La was overwhelming. I m not saying that I ignore safety. No, I do not. I am very careful and rest properly. But there are some experiences that I love to cherish.
I want to travel to Bhutan from Kannur. I m thinking of making unity the cause. I m in the process of finalizing my plans. A lot of things have to fall into place and then, god willing I will go all the way to Bhutan. And that will be another journey to cherish.