Vimal Geethanandan, popular with the name “Inspiring wanderer”, has travelled eleven states without a plan and money.
During childhood, all of us dreamt of becoming kings and queens after looking and reading about their stories in comics. But who could think someone would take inspiration from these stories to travel around the country, that too, penniless? The 23-year-old “Inspiring Wanderer”, Vimal Geethanandan, realized travelling is his life after reading the stories of Kings who used to leave their kingdom to travel. These stories inspired him to travel and Mr. Geethanandan has not stopped since then. He has visited eleven states in India without having a plan in mind. Recently, he built a Van-home ‘Maaya’, which is now ready to explore the country. In an interview with Local Samosa, he mentioned he loves to listen to stories of people belonging from different places. Read the excerpt from the interview to know how this “Inspiring Wanderer” overcame the difficulties that came along his way.
When and how did you discover your interest in travelling?
I won’t say that I woke up someday and wanted to travel. It was a slow process. But, I guess books had a great influence on me. I was always a reader, and no matter which book I picked up, be it fantasy books about kings and princes or biographies, there was always travelling. Even after learning all the Vedas and warfare, they still chose to travel. I was fascinated by that fact. They aren’t mad, and there must be a reason behind it, isn’t it? I wanted to experience it first hand and started travelling. From then on, I never stopped.
How did you actually manage without a penny while you were travelling?
People’s love is the right answer. Without them, I would have not been able to travel this long and far. People have given me everything. See, as I always say, travelling without money doesn’t mean, money isn’t involved at all. If you take a lift, someone has to pay for the fuel, if you stay at someone’s place, someone has to pay for the rent, if you eat, someone has to pay for the groceries. Nothing is free. It is people who have paid for me. Complete strangers. So more than travelling without money, it is travelling with the help of the love of people. I was always clear about this.
Do you remember incidents that shook you from inside, while travelling?
A visit to Sonagachi, Kolkata, shook me. A woman came to me and said, “We have girls from a 12-year-old to a 45-year-old woman who can do everything you wish for”. I have seen people working there normally and buying vegetables casually. That is one experience I can say.
How did a person who does not believe in plans, plan a van-home, ‘Maaya’?
People have given me everything over the years. I wanted to give back to people. But I can’t stay in a single place. So, I thought, why not take my home to places, and that’s how the thought of ‘Maaya’ started.
Why did you name the van, ‘Maaya’? What is the story behind it?
I have always loved the name “Maaya”. It means magic, and I want to share the magic with the world. Also, there’s a movie called “Kaaka Kaaka” in Tamil. The same movie, got remade in Telugu with the name “Gharshana”. I’m a big movie buff. In that movie, the name of the female lead is “Maaya”. I loved how the character is designed. It’s a beautifully-written character. I have always loved that name from then, probably it got stuck with me.
What difficulties you had to go through while executing your idea?
So many. Initially, to get permission from the RTO. I visited the RTO for four months straight every day to get it (Maaya) and convert it into a private vehicle. Then, the conversion process. To get the funds was a struggle. Then, the whole “build” was a struggle as I did everything myself with the help of two friends and also because of the lockdown.
What was the response of your family when your first told them about your idea of travelling?
My mom was very supportive. I told her this is what I want to do in life. And I also told her simple logic that the gods she worships and people she admires are all travellers. So she didn’t say anything.
What are the major takeaways from your journey of travelling?
People are love. If you know how to listen, people can give you anything.
You said that you love to listen to people, have you encountered some people who added on some nice experience to your journey?
Every story is a beautiful one. It’s hard to recall and represent. Everyone added something or the other to my journey.
What was the worst thing that ever occurred to you while travelling?
Nothing as such. I have been lucky enough to have gotten love everywhere. Also, worse is subjective, isn’t it? For some people, sleeping in bus stands or petrol bunks can be a worse experience. But for me, it is a beautiful experience.
How did you keep up with the lockdown when travelling was not allowed?
I was working with the van. I was also trying to become active on social media. Despite being on the road for more than 4 years, I was never active on social media.
What are the places that are still in your bucket list?
Varanasi is one place that somehow is not inviting me in. I want to go to Varanasi soon.
Along with the interest in travelling, You are a content writer as well. But, what are your future plans?
I just want to keep travelling because travel is my lifestyle. It gives me the freedom to do many things in life. I want to live, love, laugh, and rejoice.