Janusz River set off from Rome in 1999
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The last time Janusz River, 70, slept on a regular bed at his house in Rome was on the night of December 31, 1999. The next day, he says, he got on a bicycle to see the world.
Seventy-three countries and nearly 80,000 km later, he is now in Thiruvananthapuram preparing to pedal across the 14 districts at the rate of one village a day. His final goal is to cycle his way to the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
He told The Hindu here on Thursday that he has been `on the road' quite literally since the day he left his business as a sports manager. "My daily budget is $2. I always sleep in the open and never on a regular bed. Here too I am staying at the official guest house but I sleep on the terrace," he said.
Mr. River says he prefers to cycle through villages where he gets to interact with small children in the schools there. He claims Russian origin and said his grandfather was with the Russian embassy in India. "I have memories of my grandfather telling me about India, about Kerala and how beautiful it is," he said.
From Kerala, Mr. River will go to Karnataka and Maharashtra. From Mumbai, he will fly to Europe and then cycle to Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong on his way to Beijing.
The major reason why he is doing all this is that he does want to be found dead in front of the TV in his house, Mr. River says. He would rather die `on the road' beside his beloved bicycle with its German-made puncture-proof tyres. Besides the natural beauty of the State, he has fallen in love with `ethakkappam' (banana fry) and fish and mutton dishes served in hotels, Mr. River says.