On the road for 29 years and more to go

Around -the-world cyclist discusses his mission for peace on his stopover in Sri Lanka
By Vimukthinie Nonis

Ram Chandra Biswas from West Bengal in India looks weary as he starts listing out all the countries he has been to and the people he has met. No wonder since it’s so long. This 58-year-old travels across the globe on his bicycle. We met him when he was on his way to Kandy - another step ahead in his world peace tour.

“I have undertaken this to convey my appeal against violence, nuclear war, drug addiction, abuse of family and children, injustice and hatred in society etc. I am spreading my message of love, equality and peace to all my brothers and sisters of the world. The world is my family,” says Biswas. Biswas’s journey began on April 21 1982. He was a photojournalist, painter and magician till a Sadhu’s words prompted him to change his life.

Biswas and his bike. Pic by Sanka Vidanagama

He made a promise to devote 35 years of his life to God and spread the message of love by sharing his thoughts with people of different cultures. “I have travelled to 157 countries, and traversed 62,4500 km and 3303 cities,” he says. He’s been to almost all the countries in East and West Europe, South and North Poles, Alaska, Greenland, and Siberia, the Pacific islands and Australia etc.

He has seen Kilimanjaro, touched the burning sands of the Kalahari and even the frozen treeless plains of Antarctica, been by the ruins of the ancient Incas in Peru and the Mayas in Guatemala and travelled through the dark waters of the mighty Amazon and looked in wonder at the awe-inspiring Niagra and Victoria falls and the many wonders of the world such as the Pyramids of Egypt, the Coliseum and Acropolis in Rome etc. It was only in 1996 that he returned to India after beginning his journey in 1982. “I have been on the road for 29 years and still there are 43 countries left and many more wonders of the world to explore in the next five years,” he said.

The expenses for the expedition are never a problem as journalists from his native land and different companies have sponsored his airfare to help him continue with his mission, he says. The little money that he saved as a photo journalist he uses for accommodation and other expenses when he steps into a foreign land.

A well worn map that travels with him is his guide and he makes it a point to take along his own bicycle. He carries a sleeping bag and a few clothes and “No water, no sex and no alcohol,” not even food is taken from outside to maintain his good health.

He does not plan how long he will stay on a journey but decides depending on the length and the breadth of the country. “I knew only one language when I began my mission. Now I can speak ten different languages,” said Biswas.

He has memorable experiences of travelling without food and water in Kalahari, sharing a peaceful night with two Boa Constrictors in his tent in the Amazon and watching dreadful scenes of brutality of man towards man. He recalled how he was brought back to life by five women and six men when he was almost frozen to death in Alaska. “These experiences have taught me a lot, but most of all they have taught me to have faith in humanity” says Biswas.

After Sri Lanka he plans to visit Mauritius and continue his peace tour. Souvenirs of his travels are sent back home to India, Kolkata, hopefully to find a place in the museum he wants to build. “We should leave something for society so when I die my museum will remain,” says Biswas.

“I also want to write a book of all my experiences especially relating to the young generation.” Though the youngsters are intelligent they need to be taught to be selfless, he says, adding that he hopes to return to his profession as a photojournalist one day.

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