I can repeat world cycle tour: 60-year-old

January 22nd, 2009 - 1:57 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 22 (IANS) When he was in his thirties, Subhash Panchhi Sehgal spent eight years cycling through 84 countries to promote Indian culture. Now he is 60 and wants to do it again - “this time to encourage our youth to perform well in sports”.Born and brought up in the congested lanes of Teliwara in Delhi’s walled city, Sehgal was an avid reader from childhood. And it was a book which motivated him to set out on his first journey.

“I had read a Hindi book named ‘Ghumakkad Shastra’,” Sehgal told IANS here. “It had a deep impact on me. At that point I started touring India, but even that was not enough for me. Rather, it raised my interest to see more.”

He still fondly remembers the help he received from Indian missions around the world during his 1972-80 odyssey, during which he covered 134,400 km. “They used to organise interviews with the local media, which was a big help. It made me and my mission famous in that country. And it also used to solve my problem of food and lodging as people used to welcome me with open arms.”

Despite the prodigious feat, there is a twinge of regret as Sehgal says: “I wanted to cycle through 117 countries but could only manage 84″ through much of Asia, Europe and Africa.

He is a great believer in the bicycle being the best form of a transport for a sightseer. “It helps you absorb the culture of another country better. Of course, a bicycle has its own problems, but only if one thinks of them as problems. If one ignores the problems, the experience is sheer joy.”

Why does he want to repeat his tour? Sehgal, who is now based in the US, says: “There is a satisfaction that I could achieve something the world remembers. But, at the same time, it makes me sad that today’s youth is not trying to achieve something like this.

“They think very little about India and its culture. I am trying my bit to change this, by developing games in Hindi to promote the language in the US.”

But he wants to do more, and focus on fostering the culture of sports among youth this time. “I am sure I can tour the world on a bicycle again. This time my purpose would be to encourage our youth to make a mark in sports.”

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