Nigin Binish (25) of Thoothoor village in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu is only one among the many thousand Engineer-by-default types, who if you were born into any of the KK families these days, just about turn out to be. But when this nimble sounding, thin lanky 20’s something old told his friends that he was planning on a cycling trip through Tamilnadu, Kerala and Pondicherry during his college days, most of them didn’t have nice things to say about it. Some were outright demeaning and some laughed straight on his face; others thought “what’s happening with this guy?... Championing a Cause?….maybe he is going mad …. trying to prove himself!!”
But Binish was adamant, like a child. Inside, he was a very determined man. He had to see what the rest of the world had to give. He hadn’t seen enough. He had to move – move fast. Is it all the same around? A mass deficit of mercy and compassion? Lack of Humane instinct? He was set to find out.
Spurred by a scene that ignited his heart
“None of the schools or colleges really prepared you for LIFE” he noted. “They only transfer you a skill that you could employ to make a living. None prepare you for the realities of life except for the experiences that come your way. Like the one that happened outside the hotel window when we were dining the night away.”
He couldn’t get over it anyway, the sight of the lame, hungry woman foraging for food from the same dump that the dogs ate and urinated nearby. A sight that stifled his hunger in seconds. He didn’t feel good about the food on the table any more. Not hungry for it but guilty about. Guilty that he didn’t have any to give…not just he, but all others too. Even those who were a lot more rich than him had very little to give – even if giving away a little could make a big difference in the lives of these have-nots. But we take our social & economic positions of pride for granted and do nothing about the dispossession of the others. Either he had to find a solution, a cure to the social disease of hunger and strife or he had to grow convinced there was no answer at all.
Either way, he had to find answers, by looking around, searching the length and breadth of the country that he is proud of and calls his own. “But how are we equals….God?” he asks himself! He was waiting to find! That is what fuelled his mission, 3200 Km on a bicycle covering Tamilnadu, Kerala and Pondicherry. But that wasn’t simply enough to find answers to all that is burning in him. He had only seen one side of the story. He wanted to take a closer look at the other sides, too. This time all the way up to the top, Jammu and Kashmir. But parental worries had him back track plans. He wouldn’t cycle all the way, but walk. Somehow he convinced them walking was much safer option if they thought cycling wasn’t.
So on August 14, 2017 Nigin Binish set out on his quest, and started his walk North ward, spreading his message to “Stop Food Wastage” along the way. A hundred and eighty two days later, crossing 11 states and 5 union Territories and 3600 Km along the West Coast of India, finally on 21st February 2018, Kanyakumari’s Nigin Binish reached Jammu & Kashmir, spreading the message to #Stopfoodwastage to the public, talking in schools, colleges and where ever he had an audience. When he is on Road he travels nearly 25 km a day with a backpack which contains a sleeping bag, tent, first-aid box and clothes (almost 30,000 steps).
This is how his FB post read on Feb 21
Finally, reached Jammu and Kashmir after 182 days of solo travelling. I walked across 11 states and 5 union territories with no money to spread word about food wastage.
He is on top of his world now making the ticketless return journey, hitch-hiking his way back on tractors, trucks and bullock carts, bikes and with whoever would offer him a ride across town. He is passing through Odisha right now and is expected to reach KK by Good Friday 2018.
Some Ugly Stats about food wastage in India
“In India, 67 million tonnes food is wasted every year which is the same amount of food the whole nation of Egypt satisfies it with. In India, 7000 of whom 3000 are children die every day from hunger, malnutrition and lack of food,” -Binish laments.
Rolling back on the trip so far Nigin says, “I am travelling without money and people have been very helpful. They offer me food. I have fallen sick thrice on account of bad weather. When I started, it was raining heavily in south and now I have experienced cold. There have been tough days when I had to sleep on an empty stomach. I have gained a lot of experience, which I will share with others in the form of a book.” Nigin felt safe tenting at police stations (“the safest place!”), temples, mosques, churches and even slept on a beach, where he set tent.
“I have realized that while it’s comparatively easier to arrange for dinner, breakfast is tough to get! In Ratnagiri, while walking through a forest, I was on the verge of collapsing, as I had not eaten for a long time. But some truck drivers rescued me just in time. People invite me for lunch, farmers gifted me food and policemen invited me to stay at the police station. Some days I get more food that I donate it to others. Some days I get no food that I end up eating only a packet of biscuits.,” says Nigin on his experiences during the 3000+ km walk from Kanyakumari to Jammu & Kashmir.
“At times, I show them clippings of stories on me done by vernacular newspapers, which helps. I am not carrying any money with me but during this trip, my faith in humanity has become stronger” confides a optimistic Nigin.
"When I started this journey people called me 'mad.' Now they are encouraging me to make it happen. Many friends took an oath that they won't waste food anymore. So follow your dreams and overcome the fear of criticism," he says.
Binish is an M.Tech Aeronautical Engineer by trade and plans to set up his business after completing the tour and finish off a few arrears. Besides, he plans to continue with his travel in future -- may be with a different message. Maybe, he found what he went looking for. His faith in Humanity has only grown stronger he says.