“உன்னை போல் ஒருவன் வாழ , நீ முதலில் நீயாக வாழு”
Othayadi Pathai means One foot road , This story is about a guy named Gautham who stayed in a small community in the forest, did a cycle awareness trip from Pondicherry to Tiruvannamalai for 110 kms on “Stop eating COW and Stop wearing COW” with the principles of Gift Economy and Non-Violence.
- Chapter I – முதல் அனுபவம் (First Experience)
- Chapter II – தலை எழுத்து (My Fate)
- Chapter III – அதிர்ஷ்ட நாய் (Lucky Dog)
- Chapter IV – கடவுள் உள்ளம் (God’s Heart)
- Chapter V – திகில் இரவு (Thriller Night)
- Chapter VI – Part-1 – இறுதி சுற்று (Final Round)
- Chapter VI – Part-2 – இறுதி சுற்று (Final Round)
Chapter I – முதல் அனுபவம் (First Experience)
It was morning at 5 o’clock , I was setting up things for my trip while others in the community are doing warm-ups.
At 6 o’clock, I started my journey in a very cold weather. In two kms, the cycle chain came out and one of the pedal became loose then i realized the cycle is in very bad condition.
Omg, what am I going to do now?
As it was 6 am, there was no shop opened so I tried myself putting back the chain but it didn’t workout.
Luckily, a man was jogging.
Sir ,could you please help me fixing my cycle, I requested.
I can’t because lots of grease, will make my hand dirty, he replied.
After requesting a lot and explaining the situation, finally he accepted to help and he fixed my cycle. Then, I continued my journey with the loose pedal.
After an hour of cycling , I saw two roads dividing, which way I have to go I wondered and no one to ask as it was early in the morning. My instinct said take left, so I decided to take left, after few kms I got the doubt “am i going in the right way” then I asked a guy who was passing-by in the road.
Hey நண்பா(friend), Can I go to Villupuram by this way?? I asked.
Yes, of course but it will add you extra 10 km. he replied.
I was shocked after hearing that I entered the village instead of bypass. If I want to go back again I have to cycle back few kms , so I decided to cycle 10kms. As my cycle pedal was loose I can’t go faster even the old man with very old cycle goes faster than me.
When I was passing near the government school, two little boys in a single cycle , chasing me and commenting about my cycle.
எ இங்க பாரு டா இது தான் கியர் சைகளு(Look it’s a gear cycle), one boy said to his friend.
Lol, It was so funny that people see gear cycle rarely in that village. As I was hearing these comments and cycling , I saw a woman beating her kid who refused to go to school. she saw my awareness board and yelled
எத நிறுத்த இவரு கிளம்பி போறாரு(For what, to stop he’s cycling), she yelled.
I was laughing and cycling , I was bit shy as everyone looking at my face. So, when people see my face , I looked down like I dropped something and looked up like checking the weather.But after few kms, my inner voice spoke to me:
“Gautham , If you are shy then why you are doing this. So, I said myself, we came to do this, so there is no point of feeling shy”
From that moment, I was proud to do on what i was doing. I smiled at people who stared at me.
After leaving the village one terrible tragedy happened in my life.
Chapter II – தலை எழுத்து (My Fate)
After leaving the village , I was so hungry as I din’t eat anything. I found a small hut restaurant. When I went there, people started asking me questions:
Where are you from? and what is this all about? they questioned.
As I was afraid of telling the truth about myself, I said:
I am from Kerala and I am doing this awareness to save cow species which is கோமாதா (GOD) for us. I am cycling all over Kerala and Tamil Nadu, I replied.
In your state, People kill cows for her meat more than in Tamil Nadu, one guy murmured.
With a smile, I started eating the fresh puffy idly with rejuvenating aroma.After eating I also got parcel of 4 idly.
when I reached Thirukannur, 6 guys from 3 motor bikes stopped me. One guy came furiously to break my board and cycle. I was so afraid and screamed Stop Stop Stop!
One guy stopped him and started questioning me:
Who are you ? what is your name ? where are you from? he yelled.
I am Bala from Kerala, I replied.
Do you belong to any political party? he asked.
No, I don’t belong to any political party. I am an activist, I replied.
Why stop eating cow, bulls are killed a lot more than cows, so why can’t you write stop eating bull, he said.
My inner voice “oh really, I din’t know this before”
Cow is our God but many industries are trying to vanish our native cow species because they want us to import foreign cows and those cows can’t withstand our climatic conditions and they can’t give birth. So, we need to buy vaccinations, food and materials for artificial insemination through this the foreign markets are trying to enter here and If we or our babies drink that milk that may lead to lots of disease, I explained in detail.
After hearing this, they were shocked and said
We are sorry my friend, they apologized.
Friend, did you eat? or would you like to eat something? they offered.
I was afraid, so I refused the offer and they left with a good firm hand shake. The power of Non-violence has saved me.
My inner voice: “கெளதம் செம டா போ(Gautham, you are great) you stopped a violence act by your powerful speech”
I pattered myself and continued my journey.
When I reached Villupuram highway, there was a flyover by which I have to catch Thiruvanamalai bypass. But, It’s very dangerous to cycle in the flyover.So I decided to go through a near-by village.
When I went inside the village, there was huge funeral in the middle of the road as no one can pass through that village and also no other way to leave the village. So, Me and few other people are waiting to get cleared. Suddenly, I heard old women were ஒப்பாரி வெச்சாங்க (mourning) and also சங்கு சத்தம்(chank sound). My inner voice:
“அட பாவிங்கள எனக்கு சங்கு ஊதற மாறியே இருக்கு (As they were mourning and chanking for my cycling)”, I felt.
I was sitting in that funeral for half an hour and it made me feel like, its my relative funeral. It’s the first time in my life to attend a stranger’s funeral. But one good thing for waiting was, they gave me a delicious tea. After everything got cleared, again I started my cycling.
When I headed towards Thiruvanamalai bypass, I got a wonderful gift by our Mother-Nature.
Chapter III – அதிர்ஷ்ட நாய் (Lucky Dog)
When I headed towards Thiruvanamalai bypass, I was hungry so I sat under a big Banyan tree in the forest and had my snack (peanuts) and lemon juice.
Oh no! I forgot my glass, now how am I going to make lemon juice? Luckily, A bus driver parked his bus to rest under the shade of the Banyan tree.
அண்ணா(elder Bro), Do you have a glass? I want to make lemon juice, I requested.
Yes, I have but I can’t give because I don’t like someone drinking in my glass, he replied.
So, I decided to squeeze raw lemon in my tongue and pour water in my mouth. As he saw my struggle of drinking raw lemon, he offered me to give his glass.
தம்பி(younger bro), Don’t struggle, take my glass, he offered.
Thanks bro, It’s very difficult to drink without glass, I replied.
After my snack, On the way I found a small beautiful village. The village was greenery and paddy fields were surrounded with coconut and palm trees. As it became noon, I decided to have my lunch near the paddy field.
When I went near the paddy field, 6 women were sowing and singing நாட்டு புற பாடல்(native village song).A man was lying under the coconut tree with his பீடி(native cigarette), enjoying the song. It was so lovely to watch as we can’t see in our modern day society. I went near the man and asked:
அண்ணா(elder bro), Can I sit and have my lunch here, I requested.
Of course தம்பி(younger bro), he replied.
The experience was so heavenly as I was eating my idly, watching the women singing, breathing the chill fresh air and drinking pure fresh ground water.
After few minutes, those women finished their work and came near us to have their lunch. Their lunch were கம்பங் கூழு(Ragi porridge) with small onion, green chilly and பழைய சாதம்(old boiled rice mixed with water and salt).
They saw me eating dried idly, so they offered some of their food. That was a sweet Gift Economy. As we were eating , one woman saw my board and enquired me:
தம்பிக்கு எந்த ஊரு(where are you from younger bro) and what is this board? she questioned.
I am Gautham from Pondicherry and I am doing cycle awareness trip on stop eating cow and stop wearing cow as leather, I replied.
Why are you doing this, will you get money by doing this? She doubted.
No, I am doing service for the nation, to save native cow species, I replied.
After our little conversation, we all had a nap under the shade of coconut tree. After half an hour of nap, I continued my journey with the energetic juice of கம்பன் குழு(Ragi millet juice).
As it was afternoon, the weather was hot. My back wheel tyer got busted due to heat. I got struck in the middle of the forest under hot sun.Then
Chapter IV – கடவுள் உள்ளம் (God’s Heart)
It was hot afternoon, I was passing Ariyalur village. I saw a half decade dead dog on the road. It was disgusting, so I peddled fast to avoid breathing the air. Since the road was steep and the weather was hot, it was so difficult to cycle fast. After few kms, I saw some men were cutting down all trees partially on the side of the road. I went and asked a guy:
அண்ணா(elder bro) why are you cutting trees partially? I enquired.
We cut the top portion of the tree and more the root to some other area, so we can expand the road, He replied.
My mind voice: will you really plant that root somewhere? I don’t think so.
As I was continuously peddling in hot sun, the front tyer bulged and back tyer busted. It was in the middle of the forest so no one to help. As I was thinking, a guy was passing in a bike.
அண்ணா(elder bro) I shouted, he stopped and came to me.
அண்ணா(elder bro), my tyre busted, is there any near-by village on the way, I questioned.
It is in 5 kms, so you better go back 3 kms, you will find puncture shop in Ariyalur village, He replied.
I decided to walk back with my cycle under hot sun. Again, I saw the same half decade dead dog, so I ran with my cycle to avoid breathing the air. When I reached the village, there was only one puncture shop. The shop was opened but no one was there. After half an hour, shop owner came.
அண்ணா(elder bro), my cycle tyer got punctured, so please fix it, I requested.
Ok, Put the straight stand in the cycle, he replied.
There is no straight stand in this cycle, I said.
Then I cannot fix your wheel, he shouted.
அண்ணா(elder bro), don’t shout, I requested.
I explained the situation and about my cycling awareness trip. After hearing about my cycling awareness he started scolding me in bad words. I got very angry since I was following non-violence, I kept quiet. Finally, he decided to fix my cycle. He was scolding and interrogating, while fixing the cycle.
What is your age? he questioned.
I am 25, I replied.
In this age, marry a woman, have two or three kids, enjoy your life instead why are you cycling and doing service to the nation, will this nation going to repay you? No, then why wasting time, He shouted.
Are you doing all this, by watching M.G.R(famous former actor and politician of Tamil Nadu) movies? He shouted.
My inner voice: I have never seen M.G.R movies in my life.
I smiled and kept quiet and my inner voice:
Omg, My fate to get scolding from you, Holycrap.
He fixed my bike and refused my money. The words he said:
I don’t have money to serve the nation, atleast I ll help you who serves the nation by not getting money.
After all his scolding’s, the words he said really touched my heart. With the heavy heart, I continued my cycling.
Chapter V – திகில் இரவு (Thriller Night)
It was dark evening, I was cycling for longtime and I was thirsty. As there was no water in the bottle, I stopped in a small restaurant on the way for water. Four guys from that restaurant saw my board and questioned me. I explained about my trip. They were happy after hearing my speech and one guy offered me free food(3 parrota with veg sauce). They were making fun of me while I was eating.
Where are you from and how long it took to come here? He questioned
I am from Pondy and It took 7 hours to come till here and many obstacles on the way, I replied
Why so long to come? I am also from Pondy, I can cycle to Thiruvanamalai in 7 hours, He chuckled
My inner voice: It is easy to tell by sitting here, if you cycle then you know the real pain.
It’s not like cycling fast to Thiruvanamalai and sleeping there. He has to come back again, so he is cycling slowly, One guy supported me
The time I spent in that restaurant was amusing and I continued my journey. On the way, one guy was passing me in a bike and commenting.
Bhaiya(Hindi word), hmm.. hmm…. He commented
My inner voice: Bhaiya? Am I looking like a north Indian and I don’t know Hindi.
It became very dark and I am cycling alone in the dark forest. It was so beautiful and scary to ride under moon light. I got cramp in my left thigh muscle because of cycling with loose peddle. So I decided to stop in a upcoming village to rest.
It was 10 p.m., I went to a village and was thinking of sleeping in someone’s home by requesting them but no was outside and all shops were closed. At the end of the village, a grandmother was sitting alone in a small hut.
பாட்டி(grand mother), I am வழிப்போக்கன்(traveler), can I sleep in this திண்ணை(place to sit or relax outside the house) for the night, I requested
It will be very cold at night, so you sleep in that bus stop, she replied
Is it a safe place to sleep there? I questioned
Of course many people will sleep there, she replied
பாட்டி(grand mother), this place is disgusting, I yucked
Yes but its safe to sleep, she replied
Finally, I decided to sleep in the bus stop. I tied myself and the cycle with a rope before sleeping. After few min, a guy came and started smoking. I woke up because of the irritating smell.
தம்பி(younger bro) sleep, don’t worry I wont do anything, He said
He left after smoking and I continued to sleep then in midnight 2 guys fully drunk came to bus stop and having loud conversations.
மச்சான்(friend), I will go to Chennai and I will buy a auto-rickshaw then I will become rich, one guy yelled
Please, If you become rich then make me as partner in your business, His friend begged
I was hearing their little conversations with half sleep, again I went to sleep when they left. Suddenly, I heard a bus sound, 3 transgender person got down and they were afraid of going inside the village as it was very dark. So, they decided to stay in bus stop till the sun rise. I was very afraid but as I was sleepy I went back to sleep. Again, they disturbed my sleep by their loud conversations but this was very scary.
Look at that big tree, 1 year ago a man got suicide by hanging in that tree, she frightened
Yes I know, he came as a ghost and killed many people in this village, Her friend replied
After hearing their conversation, I could not sleep and praying God that nothing should happen to me. Since, I was very tired I slept and woke up at 5.45 a.m.
It was beautiful chill morning waking up with hen’s cluck and the women drawing kolam outside their home, everyone including me brushing teeth with neem stick. At 6, I started my journey.
It was so useful to have petrol bunks on the way as we can refill water, take shower and use toilet. Unfortunately, the toilet was broken. So, I decided to go toilet in the forest. It was a weird experience.
As I was heading towards Thiruvanamalai, I faced the real tough challenges.
Chapter VI – Part-1 – இறுதி சுற்று (Final Round)
Next day morning , Cycling to achieve the goal but unfortunately a big tragedy happened on the way.
My back cycle tyer got busted again and my loose pedal became worse. This time no one to help and standing helplessly in the forest. I was walking for hope that someone will help me. After 3 kms, I found a small shop with a woman selling goli soda. I was thirsty and no water in bottle so I went to buy soda but I was having only hundreds and thousands.
அக்கா(elder sister), how much is one goli soda, I queried?
Normal soda 2 rupees and cold soda 5 rupees, She replied.
I was shocked of the low price and I said I have only hundreds and thousands, Please I am very thirsty, I requested.
She was silent for a min and said:
I can’t give for free without first போனி(cash sale).
We are looking at each other with sad face. Suddenly, she gave me 2 rupees and asked to give back the penny like I am buying soda. When I gave back the penny she kept that in God’s foot and prayed.
That was the first experience of having goli soda, which was refreshing and energetic.
Later, she enquired me about my awareness board. I explained about my trip. She was shocked and started questioning me:
Where are you from, Do you have parent, Do you have a day job and where do you stay, She questioned?
I am from Pondy, yes I do have parent, I volunteer in a small community and I stay there, I puffed.
You look young and handsome, why are you doing like this? Find a good job, ask your parent to find a woman, marry her and go to Thiruvanamalai together that is happiness, she aggravated.
Sure I will, my cycle tyer got busted. Is there a puncture shop near-by, I enquired.
No, you have to go Thiruvanamalai which is about 7 kms, she replied.
I had no idea on what to do, I funked.
She decided to help me and we both were trying to stop any truck so I can take a lift to reach Thiruvanamalai. None of the truck stopped.
After half an hour, a tempo stopped and she requested tempo guy to take me to Thiruvanamalai. I put my cycle in back of the truck and I went with him. On the way, he said:
Normally, I won’t pick up people on the way because once I picked up a guy and on the way he fell down and died. For 4 years, case is going on in court. Since, she requested me a lot I took you. I thanked him with gratitude.
When Thiruvanamalai was about 2 kms, he stopped and said:
I am not allowed to entered the town with this tempo, He apologized.
When I got down from the tempo, I jolted because the screw of loose pedal fell down somewhere and the pedal was separated from the cycle.
I found a cycle repair shop but unfortunately he apologized:
தம்பி(younger bro), This is a gear cycle and I don’t have screw for this cycle. If you go inside the town, you can fix your cycle.
So, I decided to walk 2 kms with my lousy cycle.
Chapter VI – Part-2 – இறுதி சுற்று (Final Round)
It was noon, I reached Thiruvanamalai and searching for puncture shop. Finally, I found a small puncture shop. He was also not having spares for my gear cycle. But he fixed the pedal with different spare and he said:
கண்ணா(name of Lord Krishna) I fixed a little with this you can go few km, so find a cycle store and fix it properly, he advised.
When I entered the town, everywhere I saw big queue in front of the bank and ATM because it was at the time of demonetization. My inner voice:
Omg, How am I going to change my thousands. This big queue will be finished by next day.
I decided to go to cycle store to fix my cycle instead of waiting in the queue to change my money. I went to many cycle stores, everyone refused to fix my cycle and said the same reason:
Sorry, we fix only our store cycle, Everyone replied.
At last near Annamalai temple, there was a cycle store who accepted to fix my cycle. He checked my cycle and said:
The cycle is in very bad condition and the front tyre bulged and about to burst. You have to change the pedal, axel, and two tyres. All cost around 2000, He estimated.
Sir, I don’t have much money. Please, help me and I explained about my cycling trip, I implored.
Ok, I do service the person who does service to the nation, I will reduce the service charge. Now give me 1000, He gifted.
But even this amount is a lot for me please reduce it, I implored again.
Finally after a long conversation he made 600rs by discounting service and axel charge. I accepted and said I have only old note thousand and five hundred. He accepted and said:
I pay taxes correctly, so I can get 1000’s and 500’s but people who don’t pay taxes will refuse. He prided.
While his labour fixing the cycle , I decided to have lunch and visit Annamalai temple. Temple is a place where we get fresh air, water and a good place to relax.
After my lunch, I went to Annamalai temple and had a good nap for an hour. No disturbance and no noise.
After my feel-good nap, I went back to the cycle store. The cycle was fixed well with brand new tyres and axel. While I am leaving, the labour said:
If the pedal became loose fix it in the near-by shop, He taunted.
Please fix it properly, I can’t find a store on the way, I requested.
Don’t worry, Nothing will happen, everything is good, He replied.
By the doubtful mind, I decided to go little further out of Thiruvanamalai. As the cycle was in good condition I was able to pedal faster. I left Thiruvanamalai and was cycling in near-by village. Since I pedaled fast, the pedal again became loose and I was thirsty. I stopped in a restaurant and I requested a cup and made lemon juice. While I was drinking the juice, the restaurant owner enquired me about my cycling trip.
I explained about my cycling trip and when I finished explaining, the words he said:
Did you eat? He cared.
No, may be on the way, I replied.
I don’t know what he thought; he provided me a good healthy food which was delicious.
While I was eating, he offered me a job.
Would you like to work in my restaurant or can I find you some job here? He offered.
I have no idea on what was going on his mind but I refused his offer and continued my journey.
It became dark and I was cycling with loose pedal. On the way, again I got problem with the cycle but this time my handle bar broken and pedal got separated again. As it was dark, I decided to sleep in the near-by bus stop and was thinking to do something next day morning or to go back to home.
While I was resting in the bus stop, an old man came and said:
Son, Don’t sleep here. Police will come and take you to police station. I am a watchman in that factory. I will go there at 8.00, If you want you can come and sleep with me, He offered.
I was totally frustrated as the cycle was broken, cramp in my thigh muscle, pain in my left knee and can’t rest because of police. So, I called my friend to cool my mind and explained the situation. My friend said to throw the cycle and come back home. I also felt going back home was the better idea. So, I gave the cycle to the old man and said:
If you can fix the cycle, fix and use it. I offered.
He accepted my offer and kissed my hand to show his gratitude.
I gave the cycle because on the way many people showed me gift economy but I dint so it’s my turn to show. So, I gave the cycle.
At last, I went to the Annamalai temple at night. I prayed to get rid of my leg pain and I went back home by bus. The journey of stop eating and wearing cow came to an end.
*** THE END ***