Some people do not like a quiet life. Jyothi Rongala is one amongst such. An MBA with a few years exposure in the corporate world she was IT recruiter in a firm in Rajamundhry, Andhra Pradesh. Ditching the job, she took up a career as mountaineering instructor. Her current endeavour – traversing the length and breadth of India covering 30,000 Km. in 300 days, in an attempt to become the world record holder for doing the longest solo bicycle riding in a single country.
It is not merely for the exhausting figure of 30000 Km. but in addition, doing it without a single rupee in her pocket.
In the process she hopes to prove several things that will glorify India.
- The roads of India are safe for any woman to embark upon such a journey alone.
- The Indian tradition of ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’ (the visit of a guest is akin to God himself visiting one’s abode) is well-displayed in the hospitality that the people across India shower upon whomsoever come to their doorstep.
- India may be a spread land with diverse customs and traditions, but in general women folk are still given the respect due to them, in any corner of the country.
Her progress so far
She has managed to cover a fair lot of ground in several states across the nation. But due to a shoulder fracture on account of an accidental mishap she is grounded awhile (since five months plus) in Delhi. She is awaiting the day when she can resume her onward journey to complete her set target, which is near at hand. She had gone from Hyderabad to Kanya Kumari and from there on to Delhi via Nagpur where she had the freak accident that has stalled her temporarily.
The route she prefers
She has avoided national highways and taken to travel on the interior muddy routes and the jungle tracks. This avoids both the monotony of the journey and keeps her away from traffic snarls that could impede her progress.
Further this also gives the sense of exploring and adventure that she has always craved since like she says “There is always a surprise at every bend and corner that adds to the thrill”.
The ‘surprise element’ in her adventure
Treks are difficult to arduous and people attempt the journeys they undertake with whatever handicaps that they can add in to make the task more self-satisfying on achieving completion. But to start with a handicap like zero money in her pocket, is a challenge in itself. Was she not scared about the thought that she may need some in some unforeseen emergency? She feels No! When you have to prove a point many a time the thought just does not occur. And after all you also have people who would always help when a need arose.
She planned in such a way that she could have two meals a day in Gurudwaras, Langars, Annadanam centres in Temples or any other religious sanctorum that came in the way. Friends and well-wishers on social media have put her in touch with several individuals and families who have welcomed and hosted her with warmth.
She has been hosted at the cottages of the UP and MP Forest Depts. At times she has even slept in tents or sleeping bags.
Her experience so far
She has not been taunted so far is what she admitted though there have been a few stray cases of eve-teasing that have not been serious enough to take cognizance of. She even spoke about the warmth and hospitality she encountered in the North Indian Villages she passed by. Total strangers helped her, villagers welcomed her guts in traversing the journey despite being all alone. Some even took selfies with her like she was a celebrity.
Her current focus
She is just rearing to continue her journey onwards as soon as she is fit and allowed to. Her plan is to go to Rajasthan then Gujarat and then down South all the way to Kerala. Then reach the east coast to Odisha and then cycle to reach Leh in 300 days.
What when she accomplishes this self-set expedition and task? She plans to cycle down to the neighbouring countries including Pakistan, China, Myanmar, Bangladesh etc. is what she stated matter-of-factly.
A Jyothi Rongala is one of a breed. Adventure flows in the blood and excitement in her life is second nature that she cannot do without. We know that completing the 30,000 Kms. Is a certainty and her future plans that she spelt out are also going to be achieved by her.
That is normal for a soul like her. What is more important is what she has shown to the world about the people of India – the oneness of mind, their warmth of spirit, their kindness of heart, their encouraging ways and their moral support for any and every like Jyothi Rongala, who traverses their life while attempting whatever unusual feat that they may chose to.