Vimal Geethanandan- The Man Who Traveled to 11 Indian States Penniless
Without any external financial support, Vimal Geethanandan took a journey without spending any money. Yes! The catch here is that without spending a single penny, Vimal Geethanandan was able to travel for 9 straight months to 11 different states of India. He walked, hitchhiked, slept outdoors (read platforms), struck a chord with strangers, made friends and brought back a lifetime of experience. Along the way, he met certain people who taught him new skills like snorkeling, farming and photography. Here is his story.
Hailing from Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh, Vimal Geethanandan belongs to a middle-class family and has a working mother and a younger sister. Talking about his family, Vimal says, “My mom is a government employee & my sister recently got done with her B.com and now we both are working on a social enterprise. My father expired when I was 3. Since then our mother has worked very hard to raise us to do great things with life”.
Necessity to Travel
Vimal talks about the reasons behind his trip. “The thing is that there is no exact moment as such that led me towards this journey; it was like a combination of lots of moments & it was a great learning experience for me. For me, learning is a necessity & not learning is a disease. Coming from that point of view, I think traveling is the best teacher. As to the reason why I chose to travel without money, I think I’ve been fascinated with the books like the Steve Jobs biography and The Greatness Guide. Motivated by the thoughts shared in these books, I wanted to do something different and set an example and so one fine day, I packed and left!”
Vimal initially had plans to take a one and a half year’s trip but later he completed it in 9 months. He tells us, “One & a half year was just an approximate number initially that I gave to my mother and I didn’t plan anything. I just packed my bag, stood at the national highway and kept asking for lifts and kept moving. I covered 11 states without any planning, & it just happened. I got a lift from national highway to Bangalore; from Bangalore to Mysore & then Kerala. Kerala was always on my mind & trust me it’s a heavenly place. I wanted to learn Malayalam as that’s the only South Indian language that I didn’t know. I stayed a month there and it was wonderful”.
Experiences on the Go
Recollecting his experiences on the road, Vimal tells us, “On my first day of travel, I got a lift from a man named Asgar. He was a gem of a person. He worked as a news correspondent who gathered news from different places and sent them to channels. This was quite new for me. He was fasting at that time, he didn’t eat anything but he bought me food, which gave me a closer look at humanity”.
He further speaks of his Pondicherry experience. “When I was in Pondicherry, there was this guy I got to know through Couchsurfing. I stayed with him for a week; he ‘s an adorable personality. He knows snorkeling since childhood and so we went to a nearby place, did swimming and he taught me snorkeling. Later I met a man in Madurai who taught me photography as he was a professional photographer himself”.
“Not all days were good. At times I would sleep on a hungry stomach. By the time I reached Guntur, I was famished with a wiry frame. There I ended up staying with a local family. They were so good that they asked me to stand on a weighing machine and, noting my weight, they told me to eat well. Throughout my stay there, they kept feeding me with lip-smacking food; they would offer me milk every two hours. By the time I was ready to leave, I had gained 2 kgs. They were very caring and we are still in touch on phone. I feel so happy and thankful to have met such nice people. This entire experience made my belief in humanity stronger.”
Learning on the Go
Speaking about the things he has realized, Vimal says, “I learnt a lot. Sometimes you don’t notice what you’ve achieved until you look back. When you do, you notice how even little experiences change you and teach you a new perspective. Travelling is best to earn a new perspective on things. Travelling helped me realize that there’s no one universal truth; it’s all about perspective. Travelling teaches you to respect & understand others’ beliefs and values. I feel like travelling helped me become a better person and I hope that my story inspires many. That happiness would be worth a million dollar to me”.
The Road From Here
Vimal is now toying with the idea of writing a book about his penniless travel on the road. He tells us, “Lots of people are asking me to write a book about this impeccable experience. So maybe I’ll write a book”. Apart from this, Vimal Geethanandan is looking at starting a social enterprise the planning of which is still underway. He also frequently travels to various events to give inspirational speeches regarding travel and living. He was recently invited to speak at ‘Story Live’ in Jaipur.