17-year-old hitchhikes across 29 states in trucks

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Thrissur: When Vishal Henry set out on a trip to experience India he had a mere Rs 400 and five pairs of clothes that his mother gave him. During his schooldays, Vishal had studied India but the 17-year-old learnt real lessons about the country during his 93-day trip that covered 29 states.

A holiday trip

Vishal, son of Praveen and Sreedevi of Kunnamkulam, decided to tour the country during the holidays after his plus-one exams. A student of CMS HSS in Thrissur, Henry started his journey on April 2 with the permission of his mother. Sreedevi accompanied Vishal till Kanyakumari. From there, Vishal was all alone and he hitch-hiked till Chennai.

The schoolboy spent the nights and carried out his basic needs at temples or petrol pumps. The only unhappy experience Vishal faced was in Odisha, where two men robbed his phone. When he complained to the police, Vishal was told that it was a common occurrence there. The youngster wanted to return home immediately, but his mother gave him courage and asked Vishal to continue the journey.

To avoid the delays at the police station, his mother transferred money to buy a new phone to the account of the All-India Malayali Association. The help provided by the association proved timely. The phone was a constant companion for Vishal during the rest of the trip and he enjoyed clicking photos.

To enable a smooth ride, the youngster had learnt a smattering of Hindi. However, he faced some hurdles in Meghalaya and Kashmir, where the security was tight.

An uncharted trip

When he set out on the journey, Vishal had no idea about his destination. In fact, he used to thumb trucks and head to wherever the vehicle went. On one occasion, he had to stand on the roadside waiting for a truck to give him a lift for as many as nine hours.

Among all the places he visited, Meghalaya attracted Vishal the most with its natural beauty. The youngster finally concluded his adventure in Goa. From there, he returned to Kerala on a flight, the ticket for which was arranged by the Rotary Club. Now Vishal is keen to go on more trips.

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