Everyone loves to go on long road trips. Especially with no particular destination in mind. There’s something about driving with the wind in your face, singing along to the music playing and having a great time with friends that are taking the trip with you. But not everyone does a group road trip. There are some like Thomas Micheal Windisch, a German school teacher, who decide to view the world all by themselves. And this is the story of his trip so far.
A German goes on a road trip
Thomas Micheal Windisch decided to take this solo road trip out of curiosity. He wanted to know all about the culture and history of the world and what makes the people of these so different from each other. Thomas has explored Eastern Europe, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and parts of India so far. He is in Goa for the next 2 weeks before he heads off to Kerala for another 2 weeks. He shared some of his observations and opinions from his travels so far, with the Navhind Times.
Thomas left his native Germany in September 2017. He went on a journey that took him to countries with myriad cultures within their boundaries. He has so far visited different parts of India like Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Travelling in his 1987 Nissan Patrol, the road trip from Germany to Goa has taken approximately 17000 kilometres. Thomas is here to understand Goan culture and heritage which is a very important part of his tour.
The journey so far
Thomas’s love for travel, starting at the young age of 15, has resulted in him visiting over 65 countries in the world till date. This isn’t his first trip to India. He was here back in 2015 and that trip left a lasting impression on him when he saw how well diverse communities lived in harmony and celebrated life to the fullest. “I cannot explain but there is something about India, its people and hospitality that draws me to the rich culture and legacy,” says Thomas.
It was this spirit of adventure and curiosity that made Thomas go on this road trip. When he left Germany 4 months ago, he wanted to understand people, the way they live and what they consume, and what effect their colonisers had on them and the region. He has made sure to document everything in photographs.
This trip hasn’t been without challenges and Thomas too faced his share of setbacks. However, he says he was at an advantage. “This wagon has a six-cylinder engine without a turbocharger and hence there was no mechanical breakdown, but this doesn’t mean that I was shielded against tire punctures, getting stuck in the desert sand or a dried salt lake.”
He went on to add that the locals would usually help him out without expecting anything in return. In situations where he could, he would usually fix the problem himself.
No other problems either
After visiting so many countries where language, food and living conditions could possibly be a challenge, Thomas has not had any issues so far. He made sure that he adapted to each situation as they came along. “People in most parts of rural areas do not understand English and thus they speak in their local language which I don’t know; however language has never been a problem. In such situations I resort to non-verbal communication where I use sign languages or gestures to convey my message,” says Thomas.
Thomas has a strong belief that one shouldn’t follow everything that the media portrays about some countries. He feels that every story has 2 sides, one negative and one positive. “Pakistan and Iran are two countries that are more than often presented in a bad light to the rest of the world but in reality, the people here are extremely helpful and hospitable,” says Thomas. He shares an experience as to how friendly and helpful the locals are. “While I was in Iran, I stopped at the shop to buy something. When I asked the shopkeeper the price of the product, he did not take money from me stating that a person who came before me had already paid for my product and left.” Thomas had many similar experiences in Pakistan too.
He says even India has made him feel very welcome. “Indians are known for their friendly nature and I, fortunately, experienced the same while I stayed and interacted with the people. I still remember a happening in Gujarat where I was invited for lunch and when I wanted to pay for the meals the person refused to accept it saying that I was the first foreigner who had visited their village and this was their way of welcoming me,” says Thomas. He adds “Though there have been many good experiences in India, it is not uncommon to get cheated by the inhabitants knowing that I am a foreigner,” says Thomas who encountered such situations more than once.
Goa seems to have touched his heart too. He finds that Goa is similar to another Portuguese colony – Mozambique in Africa. “Both these areas once ruled by the Portuguese still have that colonial feel to it backed with a rich history. As you walk down the streets in both the places you will see weather-faded houses from the eras gone by and the rich Indo-Portuguese style of architecture that still retains its past glory.”
Information credit – NT Buzz