Meet Salwat Hamrah. He was born in Srinagar and brought up in the valley till the age of 18 years. An entrepreneur, yoga teacher as well as an endurance athlete — he wears multiple hats. On March 1 this year he set out from Kashmir for Kanyakumari on a bicycle to add yet another feather to his cap. To cover this extensive journey of a whopping 4,500 kms in a time period of 2 months via the Western coast of the country, he will be passing by 12 Indian states and 2 Union Territories. These include Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Daman, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, New Delhi and Tamil Nadu.
Salwat reached Jaipur in the third week of March and we caught up with him about the rationale of his ride, the various challenges he’s facing in the ongoing journey, his connection with Jaipur and much more. Talking about the objective of this arduous ride, Salwat shares: “On this ride, I will be passing by more than 100 cities, towns and villages of India which gives me an amazing opportunity to meet numerous people from various cultures and backgrounds. While on this journey, I will also be able to experience the diverse biodiversity and terrain of our country. Basically, it will help me to build a new connect with our land and its people and land. In addition to this, it will also help me to get beyond the limits of my mental and physical state.”
Having prior experience of a half triathlon, full marathon, swimming in the sea, mountaineering, skiing as well as yoga, Salwat believes that riding on a cycle for over 100 kms a day is more about how strong one mentally is. “Visualization is the key to prepare mentally for such a ride. Even though I began this ride in March, I have been visualizing how this journey will unfold in my mind for the last six months at least. Acceptance of whatever comes along the way is another essential requisite for continuing this ride”, tells Salwat while throwing light on how he prepared for this ride.
Adding about the financial funding of the ride, Salwat says: “The journey is not a very expensive one. In all, I would be spending around Rs. 50,000 – 60,000 on it. I am fortunate that I have friends in most parts of the country who are hosting me in their homes. In other places, couch surfing is helping me. I have very low expectations and have a mindset which accepts things as they are.”
An ardent lover of being in the outdoors and a believer of minimalism and leading a sustainable life, Salwat has a special connect with the Pink City. “Jaipur is my second home. I was here from 2007 to 2011 and this is where I completed my college education. It is a beautiful city and whenever I am here I love revisiting the people and the food I grew up with. Even while on this trip I extended my stay here by a day to spend more time in the Pink City”, he fondly says.
Talking about the challenges he is facing while on this journey, the avid cyclist shares: “When I started out, I had a slight knee pain owing to a technical glitch in the cycle but thankfully it is fine now. In the northern part of India, there are a lot of uphill climbs. The weather around Delhi and Rajasthan can be quite harsh and dusty. Cycle punctures on the highway and bouts of bad stomach owing to the roadside food are quite common. The only solution is to put on a jolly face and stick to the ride no matter what. Sipping water with lots of lemon, sugar, and salt also helps!”, he quips.
Salwat wraps up this conversation on an inspiring note with a positive message: “Be happy, live in the moment, and stay healthy and fit – physically as well as mentally. Good health is an investment which cannot be replaced by anything.”
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