By Ahmet Abdulaziz….
Life is an adventure and there is no doubt about it. But here I am now discussing it. I want to discuss here my desire to lead an adventurous life. Although to a great extent my life is already full of adventure, but that does not match the criteria of adventure that I have in my mind.
Let me elaborate on my point. Adventure for me is to go out for long long tours, without money. This is the adventure that I want to experience. Unfortunately so far I could not get a chance to make this dream possible.
I was in my middle school when I wrote a weekly serial in a local weekly newspaper about a fellow who had travelled a lot, with a minimal amount of money in his pocket. The man had started writing his experiences in the form of a weekly serial in the newspaper. The title of the serial was “ Touring the world on 70 (Pakistan) Rupees”. He had left his home with just 70 Pakistan Rupees in his pocket. He got a job as a labourer on board a cargo ship. He started leaving his job after reaching some particular port, and then was again finding a job on some other ship to reach another port in some other country. This way he had travelled to a number of countries, without spending a penny from his own pocket.
I got very impressed with the adventures of that fellow, and dreamt of some similar adventure. That was mid 1960s, and I was a middle school student. My dream remained a dream.
I remember way back in 1972, when my father took us on the biggest adventure of our lives. We had travelled from Karachi (Pakistan) to Istanbul. We journeyed by train and buses. Stayed in cheap hotels. The whole episode took 17 days. There were all sort of problems and hardships that we faced, but overcame. I personally enjoyed that the most. That was my first taste of real adventure. I liked that very much, and in fact that particular trip changed my whole life and my approach towards life.
But the same adventure led me to my dream of roaming around perhaps the whole world. I must clarify that boarding a plane, going to some other place, staying in an hotel, visiting touristic places, is not an adventure for me. An adventure for me is to survive, under difficult conditions.
During that long strenuous travel of 17 days, I happened to meet one english boy, whose name was David. He was also in the same compartment, when we were travelling from Quetta to Zahida (crossing the border). He was a sort of hippie, who was just on tour. He narrated a lot of his experiences, which I liked a lot. I do not forget his sleeping bag. He used to sleep in this in the corridor of the train, with people just stepping over him. He had one steel cup and one spoon. That was his whole kitchen. He had a small bag, with just a few clothes. He used to work anywhere, to save some money to buy a ticket to move to another city. That was his way of travelling. It was the type of adventure that I loved and still love.
I met a few more hippies during our 4 days travelling by train from Tehran to Istanbul. They all had different adventures to talk about. I was eager to listen to their stories.
Next, during the early 1980s when I was also working as freelance journalist, I met a young Pakistani guy who had toured a number of countries on his bicycle. I did his interview, which was published in a weekly MAG. He too had carried out that adventure with a very little amount of money in his pocket, without any finances. For hours we talked about his experiences. All that once again revived my dream of travelling and surviving.
Then in the year 1985 I went for the Hajj (pilgrimage). The whole plan was prepared abruptly, as my application to go by aeroplane was rejected, but at the last moment there were some places available on board a ship. My father had asked me if I would like to travel by ship (on deck).
My reply was yes.
Even my passport was not available at that moment, as I had had to board the ship the next morning. So I journeyed for 9 days and 9 nights on board MV Safina as an Arab, without any passport, to reach Jeddah port of Saudi Arabia. During this period of 9 days my father, back home had managed to send my new passport by air to the Pakistan embassy in Jeddah, who in turn had to come on board to hand my passport over to me, so that I could enter the country.
I stayed there for 3 months, as the vessel was going to pick me up on its next trip, which happened to be after three months. I performed my Hajj pilgrimage as an irregular (one who is not part of any organised group or leader). I did have money just to survive, after a part of my money was taken by a fellow who had provided me a place to stay, but did not return it when I walked out of the place, the next morning, due to some very personal reasons.
I did not ask my father to send me money, because that would have taken out the factor of adventure which I wanted to have. However I generated some money by taking care of some old pilgrims, by carrying their luggage, cooking food for them, and to write letters for those who did not know reading and writing.
At times I did sleep on footpaths, during the height of the Hajj season, because I did not know where to go.
Those 90 days had provided me a chance to learn how to survive under difficult conditions. I learnt a lot in that period, and my way of thinking, views about human beings, ways of living, earning and spending, changed a lot.
Time kept on slipping away, and I came to Northern Cyprus with my wife and three year old son, with just 500 dollars in my pocket. No return tickets in hand, with no other way out but to survive. I loved that. Of course the biggest credit for this adventure goes to my wife, who participated well in going through this battle of survival. It took some time to pass through a very very tough period in Cyprus, but life got settled in.
But my dream to travel, to see the world, to survive is still here.
Nowadays I am following a new friend of mine, who is on his way to tour the whole of Turkey on a bicycle. He started off his tour about 40 days back, and is travelling from village to village and city to city in the western part of the country. He does not have any financial support from anybody.
He does not have sufficient funds of his own. But as the saying is, where there is a will, there’s a way, so he manages to find people who frequently take him as a guest in their homes or arrange for some place for night stay. He has spent nights under severe cold and has braved through rain and icy cold on the road.
He is putting on record his daily experiences through photographs and write ups on Facebook. He is also putting up videos about his adventures on Youtube.
I am going to write about him and his adventures, in very near future.
Once again he has made me to think again about going out and start travelling. Of course I do not have any sponsor or sufficient money of my own to meet the expenses. But this is my dream, and I hope to live it.