Friday, February 01, 2008

A Walk to India

A man is planning to walk to India without using money, relying on the goodwill of people along the way or working for bed and board, he said Wednesday.

Former dotcom businessman Mark Boyle, from Bristol, aims to end up at Mahatma Gandhi's birthplace after the 9,000-mile trek, which he reckons will take him about two and a half years.

"I've got some sunscreen, a good knife, a spoon, a bandage... no Visa card, no travellers' cheques, no bank accounts, zero. I won't actually touch money along the way," the 28-year-old told BBC radio.

Walking between 15 and 45 miles a day, he plans to work his way down through France, Italy, eastern Europe, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan before reaching Gandhi's birthplace of Porbandar on India's west coast.

On his blog, Boyle said he was setting off Wednesday.

"I will start writing a new chapter in my life. From this point on I endeavour to never touch money again," he wrote on , at his blog.

Describing the trip as a "pilgrimage", he told the BBC he aims to demonstrate what he calls a "harvest philosophy" in which people can live by sharing skills rather than using cash.

"My mum and dad always speak about a time in Ireland when people came together and took in the harvest together, and no money changed hands," he said in his soft Irish accent.

"It was your friend John down the street or Mike round the corner and everyone came together and chipped in. But now my folks tell me back home that they don't even know anybody in the street any more, the door's always locked. My message is, we've got to get back to a time where actually we've got to open those doors and get back to a more communal way of living," added Boyle, who describes himself as a "freeconomist".

Having travelled in Asia before he believes he should be alright there, but admits that the initial phase of leaving Britain and travelling through Europe could pose more problems.

"I think it'll be a mixed response... some people will use their nicest French to tell me they're not interested... some people will be going 'this is amazing I can't believe what you're doing'," he said.

A potential obstacle could come early on when he has to cross the Channel to France.

"I'm going to walk up the guy behind the counter and just explain what I'm doing, and say it as passionately as I can to him and show him how much I really care about what I'm doing."

If that doesn't work he will simply try again and again. "If I've got spend two and a half years to show one person the conviction of what I'm doing then it's two and a half years well spent," he said.

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