I, Vishnudas Sheshrao Chapke welcome you to Hindayan.
I was working as a journalist with Mumbai-based English newspapers. Life was normal, just like a straight line on a paper – work hard during weekdays and, on weekends, watch movies, eat and sleep.
Fortunately or unfortunately, one day, I had to visit a hospital for a small surgery. Life changed dramatically, as soon as the liquid anaesthesia dissolved in my blood.
Post-surgery, under influence of anaesthesia, I could not move for two days. While lying on the bed, I realised the truth – life and body are not guaranteed. Travel till there is strength and the spirit in the body.
When I stood again on my own feet, I resolved to see at least a few places of this beautiful planet on which I am born. And I must hurry because the departure bell can/will ring any moment.
When I was leaving my sister’s house on March 19, 2016, in Thane/Mumbai, my plan was to visit North East of India. I had $1000 (Rs 67,000). When I reached Kolkata, my plan extended till Thailand as Myanmar consulate was extra generous to grant me tourist visa which was otherwise not granted to overland travellers during junta rule.
Bombay (Mumbai) to Bangkok road trip was a dream come true. I was working on plans to come back to Mumbai. Just then, a friend, Dr. Rucha Lahane, asked me whether I would like to visit another country. I said yes. Next day, she deposited her first salary in my account.
Mr. Umesh Kashikar, Mr. Sujit Bangar (IRS), Hrishikesh Modak (IAS), and dozens of friends voluntarily offered me help. They donated their hard-earned savings so I could fulfil my dream. Abhijit Bangar, Nirbhay Jadhav and Vijaykumar B Gadekar promised to look after my old parents in my absence.
My travel plan was simple – stand on the road and request for the free lift. For shelter, I used to write a request on Facebook, ‘Hello friends, I am reaching Santiago de Chile. By any chance do you have any friend or contact please share.’ I used to stay with them, eat their bread help them in their routine work and continue the journey ahead.
I volunteered in Chile’s national emergency over wild forest fire. Then, President of Chile Ms Michele Bachelete greeted me with a hug and offered a promise/favour. I accepted her offer of a favour and requested if I may have the honour to plant a tree with her in the Presidential Palace. She smiled and said ‘yes’. Besides her, I was honoured to plant trees with several Environment Ministers around the world.
Friends who gave me shelter or took me around their cities to show their heritage used to ask me whether I will show them India when they come here. I did not have an answer to that question.
In September 2019, a Mexican friend, Ms Lilian, visited India. I travelled with her for two weeks around India as I had free time. I realised that I cannot travel with every individual friend for two weeks. So, I thought, I should organise an annual event to show India to my friends.