Register? (What will people say)
That’s the mindset Jothi Viknesh, 32, from Tamil Nadu, is trying to defeat when he travels to India in an electric vehicle in December 2021.
Reprinted from Better India
On board is the 7.3kW Mahindra Treo, an aptly named ‘electric autorickshaw’hope,” Jothi wanted to do what has rarely been attempted – enter the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest journey ever made in an electric autorickshaw.
Although this was the first time he used an autorickshaw to carry out his mission, it was not the first time he traveled across the country. In fact, this was his third such trip.
“The first one was by bike in 2016,” Jothi said A better India, adding that he traveled 8,000 km in two months. He was not alone. The baby monkey he rescued sat on his shoulder. “When I went from Kanpur to Bengaluru, the monkey refused to budge.”
On his second journey in 2019, Jothi covered 40,000 km in eight months. So with two thrilling outings behind him, the third was bound to be unique. “I took a loan and bought an electric autorickshaw,” he says.
In the background of his choices, the spark of adventure is evident. Jothi says it all stems from the love of exploring places and meeting new people. But these aspirations are rooted in the reality check brought by the COVID pandemic.
“The pandemic has hit us all and many have realized that life is too short. We run after money and public affairs, only to realize that one day life has passed us by.” “I met a lot of people who are real-life heroes along the way. They want to travel, but they are mentally blocked.”
Jothi later did not want to grieve this fate and decided that if he wanted to make a dream come true, he should start here and now.
Tracing India’s borders
Zumba instructor, fitness trainer, YouTuber and learner — that’s how Jothi describes herself.
But what does he study and learn? I am asking.
Life, he answers.
With the auto-rickshaw journey that started from Bangalore on 5th December 2021 and is still going on, Jothi not only learned about different cultures and lives but also collected many stories that he kept in his heart and took with him from one place to another. next. “I love stopping along the way and hearing people tell me their stories, and I share mine,” she says.
But, apart from the dreamy ride it appears, there is a more important mission in the foreground – to beat this difficult world record.
Currently, the Guinness Book of Records is 19,000 km. Jothi has covered 15,800 km and aims to complete 30,000 km by the end of this year. Starting from Bengaluru, he wants to return to the city towards the end of the trip.
According to him, it was “a trip worth remembering”. Crossing 19 states and breathing in the beauty of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir and the North East among others gave him memories to last a lifetime.
Allow me these memories, I say. And he does.
In Nagaland, Jothi’s worst fears came true.
“I encountered militants in Mokokchung,” he said. “They had seen me asking for houses and dormitories and they got the wrong impression. A guy came up to me and asked if he could talk to me and invited me to follow him.
It was impossible to imagine what happened next.
“When I followed the boy into a room, the doors were closed behind me and they started asking me where I was from and why I came here. I answered calmly and even showed them my permits. But they became more interested and demanding.”
Jothi finally got suspicious and asked why they need to see all these documents. But as he would learn in seconds, that was a mistake. Not even a second later, a gun was pointed at his head.
“They thought I was a spy,” he says. As a last resort, he showed them his travel videos to convince them he wasn’t there to cause trouble.
After much questioning and hours, he was allowed to leave.
Although the incident is scary, Jothi says most days are blissful.
At Sela Pass in Arunachal Pradesh, he encountered heavy snow and rain. “At 14,700 feet, I was trying my best to steer my car,” he says. As if the harsh weather wasn’t enough, he got sick the next day and felt he had accomplished his goal.
But fate had other plans for him.
“On my way back, I had driven about 20 km when I got a call from the nearby police station that I should go there immediately.”
To his surprise, the DC and an army brigadier were waiting near the War Memorial in Tawang. The mood was festive. “It was the first time that an electric car came there. Someone took a video and it went viral among the locals,” said Jothi.
Appreciating her efforts, he booked a VIP room at the DC Circuit House and invited her to stay as long as she wanted until she felt better. Jothi was amazed at the goodness of the universe.
After a few days in the neighborhood, the army helped him with the required permits to reach the Bum la pass near the Chinese border, where he completed another stage.
“At 15,300 feet, hope it was the first car to get there,” he says proudly.
“Hope Will See You”
If there’s one thing this soon-to-be world record holder firmly believes in, it’s humanity.
“I’ve been blessed to meet some lovely people along the way,” he says. “They welcomed me into their humble homes and I stayed with them in their villages.”
One such instance was in Mizoram, where a family of vegetable sellers took him for a few days. “They were more than happy to tell me about their lives and their culture.”
Another time, Joti stayed with the Assamese builders on the roadside in their camp. “I couldn’t find a place to stay or fill up the car and they were more than happy to have me.”
While the universe mysteriously favors Jothi, she also has to navigate some tough moments along her journey.
One such challenge is finding charging points along the way. Jothi says he is grateful to Mahindra for the free charging and service they offered him at their showrooms. With this taken care of, he can focus on maintaining a constant speed that will allow him to reach his goal, but also get him the maximum distance. “My trusty speed is 40km/h, which helps me keep my balance,” he says.
Weather is not always Jothi’s best partner. “I have been through snowstorms in Arunachal Pradesh, extreme heat in Uttar Pradesh and experienced floods and earthquakes in Assam. However, although it is difficult, I believe and hope that I will see this path to the end.”
Driving across the country in an autorickshaw seems like a dreamy experience for many. But the weeks of posturing and sitting took their toll on Jothi’s back. “A few months ago I slipped a disc and needed physiotherapy,” he recalls. But among all these possibilities, one thing that is astonishing is his undying spirit to see this mission through.
The trip costs him an average of 20,000 to 25,000 rupees a month, most of which he spends on food and accommodation. Having completed a large part of his journey, he is full of zeal for the rest. If you want to catch snippets of his experience, he shares them on his YouTube channel ‘India on 3 Wheels’.
There is a simple truth that he wants to convey to people through his journey. “Don’t worry about the intricacies of the trip. As long as you’re adaptable and spontaneous, you can make it happen.”
The driving force for him is the encouragement of strangers every day. “Even though it’s a solo effort,” he says, “people I’ve never met before are cheering me on.”
As Jothi puts the EV on the road to a new day, the dreams and aspirations of many Indians lie on its journey.
A hope that “hope” will indeed see him.
Edited by Divya Sethu. Reprinted from Better India.
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