In October, 2011, Andhra Pradesh native Akram Firoz set out to cycle around India. All he had was Rs.300 and a mind bursting with scripts and plays.
“Ever since I met a man during the second year of my Pre University course who shared his experience of walking across the world with me, I have been dreaming about walking across the villages of India. But I never had the courage to step out of my comfort zone. One day I felt that I should live to fulfil my dreams rather than walking the same path which any 22 year old guy can do. That’s how I set out to pursue my dreams.”
“Today I have completed 275 days on my cycle. All these days have been an empowering and enriching experience. My passion- theatre - has been accompanying me on my journey and inspires me to explore more,” smiled Firoz.
In these 275 days, Firoz has cycled through many undiscovered areas of South India. He has seen and enjoyed the beauty of rural India and has tried to understand its folk arts.
“I have cycled through Kurnool, Mehboobnagar, Chikballapur, Anantpur and many other villages in the south. Initially it was just an expedition for me. But now I realize that the pulse of our country lies in our villages. We have a lot to absorb from their innocence. I am a contemporary theatre artist. I have a lot to learn from the folklores and folk arts of our country.”
According to this enthusiastic globetrotter, discovering the unseen areas of his country would help him to discover himself better.
“It has been a journey of self-discovery. I learnt to respect myself and others more. Now I know the value of helping a stranger, I know the value of food, I can feel the pain of others and their miseries and the good, bad and sad stories around me.”
This explorer says that travelling without enough money in his pocket gives him the desire to cycle more.
“It is very exciting to travel without a budget, earn in between and move on. When I realise that my pocket is empty I look for small jobs. Sometimes I work as a coolie, sometimes I walk into schools and colleges to share my thoughts on theatre, which has always been my passion. I feel that it connects my soul to my body. The concept I carry is similar to Natak Mandali (Moving Theatre), which was common in India once upon a time. I call my voyage- ‘The Cycle Natak’.”
This young Hyderabadi dropped out of college where he was pursuing a graduate degree in Genetics and started working in a television channel as Program Director (Producer) for a year before getting fully involved in theatre as a director, playwright and actor.
Firoz has had some unforgettable experiences during his journeys.
“There are many incidents which have touched the human in me. I am moved most times and find it difficult to say even a single word to the strangers who come forward to help me. I felt blessed when a lady came up to give me Rs.30 as an offer to ‘Thirupathi Bhagavan’. When the villagers appear before me as angels and invite me home, I whisper ‘Incredible India’!”
Akram Firoz loves to live his dreams. He will continue his ‘Cycle Natak’ in search of himself and to fall in love with his ‘Incredible India’. Those who love to keep in touch with this ambitious cyclist can follow him on his Facebook page where he constantly updates his route map or can e-mail him directly at email@example.com.