A little over 100 days and counting. That is about how long Niyog Krishna, a 26-year-old from Kerala, has been on the road. So, what is strange about it, you may ask. These are days when traveling is a fad, and it is normal for a young man to go on a trip on a whim. But, Niyog, a budding filmmaker belongs to a different ilk. He is not spending a single penny on this trip – and has been completely depending on the goodwill of his fellow human beings to tide him through.
Onmanorama caught up with Niyog who was catching his breath after hitching a ride. Excerpts.
So, what prompted you to go on this trip?
From a young age, I was a dreamer. I used to imagine a beautiful make-believe world around me and visualize it. And I have been influenced by the beat generation, the hippies, and the counter culture. Between the 60s and 80s, there was a hippie trail from Istanbul to Kathmandu. A trail that celebrated, love, music, peace, and freedom among other things. They realized how people trap themselves in the socially sanctioned prison of life. These people, they embraced life, they had this spirit to search for life's meaning, to discover oneself. I was inspired by these ideas.
I feel we are consuming the illusions of a materialistic world. We need these material attainments so that the world can approve of our success. But what happens to the 'me' in this scenario? These, plus a lot of other personal issues made me sit up and think about it. I had to unlearn a lot of materialistic pursuits and relearn many while being on the road, ever since I started my journey on June 1, 2017. The journey has been a real eye-opener.
And how has it been so far?
It has been a surprising, liberating and a unique learning experience. I have unlearned a lot of things, which the world had made me think was absolutely essential. Uncertainty has been my constant companion. And I just have a rough idea of where I will head to or when and where I will have my next meal. Things are so uncertain. I have learned to adapt to changes and challenges on the go. Each person who helped me, who took me under their wings and fed me, are experiences I have earned. And many of them have been life changing.
I travel between 7 in the morning to 6 in the evening. I have resorted to couch-surfing, staying at places of worship and in railway stations. There have been a lot of people who have hosted me across the many places I have visited. Food has always been an issue. Some days, I have to be satisfied with just two meals a day.
Are there any rules you have set for yourself?
Basically, there are no rules. But I follow certain basic things. I try to travel during the day. I avoid hitching rides during the night. I trust my intuitions and believe me, I have had no bad experience so far.
What is the objective of this trip?
I have always dreamed of cinema. When I started on this trip, it was about writing a script for a movie. I wanted to meet a lot of people and spend time with them. I shoot clips while on this trip; I want to make those into a documentary. But beyond all these, it is the urge to explore the unexplored and to find myself and the child in me that made me undertake this trip.
How do people react to your trip?
You will be surprised. People tell me to go back home and talk things out with my family. They feel that a person leaves home only when there is something wrong. Generally, they don't understand me or my intentions. I explain that things are not bad back home and I just want to travel; that is something people don't understand. However, there are a lot of young people who have told me that they are inspired by my trip.
What are your future plans?
Once I finish my trip, I may do a documentary of it. I have not finalized anything as of now.