Walking across India
October 3, 2020 7:19 AM   Subscribe

Bobby from England walks across South India, from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal. His daily vlogs are about the mental struggle, against heat and exhaustion. But also a travelogue of back roads, small villages, temples and tea shops. He finds plenty of hospitality, but also the isolation of being an object of intense curiosity whatever he goes. Episode 5 is a good example, but his editing keeps improving as he goes on.

Note that while this series is still being edited and uploaded, it was filmed pre-pandemic.
posted by serathen (6 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry about the title. My toddler was trying to collaborate. Mods feel free to change to "Walking Across India" or something.
posted by serathen at 7:20 AM on October 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Updated!
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:27 AM on October 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Wow, that's serious mental fortitude.

I think I understand the use of milestones a little bit better from watching one episode -- you have to break up a big walk, or any big task.
posted by batter_my_heart at 1:17 PM on October 3, 2020

Thanks for this. Despite some serious shaking cam now and again really enjoyable watch.
posted by Kosmob0t at 9:31 PM on October 3, 2020

Thanks for posting this. I notice that strayBob also hitchhiked his way from Vietnam to India - so he does have some practice. The original travelers who took to the road on long journeys, with only the most basic possessions, were pilgrims (and I am sure India still has many like this). The journey was supposed to be physically and mentally hard: you made yourself vulnerable to the elements and to the people good and bad that you met on the way. Being such a traveler required a host of skills: the ability to engage with people, the ability to rapidly work out who to trust, the ability to take in what was novel and to listen to people, and also the ability to tell stories about one's own journey. Its good to see people keeping that spirit alive.
posted by rongorongo at 12:51 AM on October 4, 2020 [4 favorites]

RongoRongo: I like that analysis. In 2004 I walked to Santiago de Compstella from Portugal and then, against the traffic, to France. For six weeks I met everyone on the Camino Frances: 50,000 x ¡Buenos días!; thinking I knew something I wrote a piece about the Process of Pilgrimage [ah hubris]. . .
""The first part of the journey is, accordingly, physical. You get blisters on your feet and nappy-rash further up. Inevitably, you packed too much stuff and this affects your knees, ankles and back. It rains, the sun beats down with a pulse, the wind whips your poncho into your face; it hurts. But the blisters dry up or you surprise yourself to realise that you can still walk despite them. You discard or mail home all but essential items of kit. You are then ready for the psychological part of your journey. It is not always easy to enjoy your own company for an extended period, in normal life we are rarely required to do so. Despite the presence of other pilgrims – a daunting mass of them indeed - when the distractions of your physical inconveniences and pain ebb away then you are thrown on your own resources. You need to draw, sometimes deeply, on psychological reserves to keep walking rather look for an escape route home at the nearest train station. And unless and until you have been through the physical and the psychological, you are not ready for the spiritual part of your journey.
In medieval times, thousands and thousands of people went to Santiago, which with Jerusalem and Rome was one of the three great destinations for pilgrimage. Before planes and trains, you set off from your own front door on foot or on horseback and walked. And walked back too. So Europe was threaded with a network of paths converging in Galicia. Nowadays, however, if people think of the Camino at all, they think of that thread of the network which begins at St Jean Pied de Port in France, crosses the Pyrenees to Spain at Roncesvalles and turns west to Santiago. I believe that the reason this route is The Camino is because the geography matches the tripartite division which I have described. The physical over the mountains of the Pyrenees and up and down the hills of Navarre and Rioja; the psychological section across the flat hot dry corn and sunflower fields of Castille; and having cleared these obstacles, there is the final climb up the mountains of western León and Galicia to the City of God.
If you think, however, that the Camino is about reaching the (supposed) tomb of St James the Great, you have missed the point. The reason for the Camino is the process of getting there and the destination is almost irrelevant. Medieval chronicles tell of groups of pilgrims falling to their knees and weeping tears of joy at their first sight of Compostella. But they could only achieve this pitch of spiritual and emotional excitement because of the testing inner and outer journey that had consumed their days for several weeks or months. It is unlikely that they would be so unmanned if they were debouched from a tour bus or as they walked across the tarmac at the airport.

posted by BobTheScientist at 1:44 AM on October 4, 2020 [7 favorites]

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