What happened to me during backpacking for 37 days in 2021?

Rishi Singhal
6 min readMar 21, 2021


A version of me started backpacking across Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in February 2021. 37 days later I’m not him, only some traces left of the past.

I’m Nivin, The reborn.

The above image is a picture taken in Auroville. It’s the only one where you can barely see both of my bags. Also, I loved that particular location because I was able to run a 1/4 marathon in 98 minutes. It was my first time since childhood, running such a large distance.

I had a simple agenda when I started. I kept myself open to changes in plans and situations. As a result of doing it for 30+ days, I inadvertently changed yet again. Unknowingly learnt many crucial life skills. I followed my own principles to pursue experiences backed up by word of mouth marketing. These were generated randomly, Google suggestions not so much. *Ahem ahem. But Google did help me immensely to accomplish a lot during the trip.

Going old school enabled me to flow like a mighty river, roaring and gushing through meandering plains and deep gorges. Unecumbered by future plans, unsure of where I’ll stay the night, I kept flowing. Here is the family friendly version of my travels, of the sights I saw and the life I cultivated.

Yearly Bonus: I made amazing new friends, I don’t care about performance bonus for slaving at a company.


Oh pardon me. I’m chose not to be another brick in the wall.

From my experiences I observe and report the following:

  • I lacked empathy for my brothers and sisters and parents and anyone else in general. My flaws that hurt me are Anger, Pride and Obstinacy.
  • In cities while everyone is trying to steal your money, aren’t they are also suffering the daily tribulations. I asked myself who am I to judge them?
  • Is he wrong in his actions, or was I wrong to expect kindness from strangers who may have never felt kindness directed at them? I’m totally privileged, and I have a long way to go to detach from my past.
  • Moreover, I realised kindness flowed easily within me once my stress levels reduced, since I learnt to accept things as they are.
  • I slept better every night, I spoke kinder words and felt a dramatic shift in perception of my own past.

Here is my trip intinerary

Leg 1, it began on 31st January :

Starts in Incredible Karnataka

  • 7 days spent in Gokarna, I published my first article on medium on the train journey back.
  • 2 days in Mulky, since I chose to stay away from toxicity of my past.
  • Pitstop at home in Surathkal, near Mangaluru for work. Financial year closing and other yearly income tax related hassles.

Leg 2, 17 February onwards:

  • 3 days in Mysore, published my article on a riot at a climate strike rally. Stayed at a hostel called Roambay. O boy, this is where I found my metal straw. Funny story about how I received it. It was nothing but a reward of my kindness towards a fellow traveller, from Israel. I use it often to drink bondas.
  • 1 day in Bangalore, caught up with my college friends and visited my alternate home forever. Which is the Art of Living Ashram, Kanakapura Road, Bengaluru. Jai Gurudev.

Enter Tamil Nadu, leg 2 continued

  • I Arrived in Madurai by Tamil Nadu State transport Bus. Watched an incredible sunrise followed by amazing home cooked food at a friend’s home. I had skipped his wedding in January 2020. I’m glad I visited him 1 year later in February 2021.
  • 1 day in Trichy and Thanjavur, temple hopping. Rather they called out to me.
  • Excluding temple visits in Mangaluru, the temple visit counter reaches 5.
  • 3 days in Chennai, from here I published the Climate Change Mitigation Framework. I stayed with a friend at his home near to Guindy. We cooked dosa together in the morning for breakfast, but we ordered coffee using Swiggy. All because we didn’t have milk, and we too lazy to walk even 10 minutes.
  • 8 days in Auroville, from here I published An Ode to Silicon Valley.
  • 2 days in Pondicherry, temple counter 8.
  • 2 days in Thiruvanamalai, temple counter 18.
  • Back to Bengaluru by KSRTC sarige bus. Made so many calls during this ride, apologizing to as many people who picked up my call.
  • Spent 2 days in Kormangla, Bangalore where I published how I reduced my carbon footprint?
  • Main agenda, Mahashivratri Celebration March 11 onwards at AOL international ashram.
  • Spent 4 nights in the dormitory here, and ate Sattwik food. I learnt transcendental meditation in a 5 hour course over 3 days. Temple visit counter ticks to 21. 45 days done.
  • I let go of my crop of hair, accepting the truth for no more attachments, period.

Leg 3, back home for clear objectives

  • 5 days in MRPL Mangaluru, where I wrote letters to 3 people in my life. My friends from college; my ex-boss; & someone who took my money and didn’t oblige on his services. The crux of writing all of them was to forgive and forget.
  • 1 day at Hosabettu, Mangaluru a beachstay literally next to the beach shore.
  • 1 day at a dormitory in Kottara, Mangaluru. Here I attempted to make the draft for this article and write a long letter to my parents. Its in Hindi and hand written, it felt alien. So my medium article was postponed. I mean it was supposed to be out by Friday, but damn. What a crazy week it was.

Leg 4, pilgrimage for the blessings of my elders

  • A sunday in train, departed from Mangaluru at 5PM. Here I attempt to publish this article. The network is shoddy, Im exhausted and the deadline is 12 AM.
  • Then on Monday(tomorrow) I arrive in Chennai. I intend to travel to Auroville, drop my cycle and a carton of notes and research material at a school friend’s apartment. He is the guy who is my rock. The only guy I know who hasn’t given up due to harshest absurdities of life. I would devote my life to his cause, for he is such a genuine person. A 💎 priceless and rarely found. But bad luck find him easily.
  • Tuesday day back in Chennai to catch my flight to Indore. Ah. So many memories.
  • 1 day in Ujjain (tentative plana)
  • 1 day in Godhra (tentatively)
  • 1 day in Indore (I may or may not meet her, I’m talking about Devi Ahilya Bai)
  • 1 day in Bhopal, this is the closest place to Jannat on earth for me.
  • Last Sunday of FY 2020–21 in train, I would arrive in Chennai after 24 hours solo traveling in a Duronto (non-stop) train. Looking forward to some truly alone time.
  • On 29th March Monday, I will report to my new job at Auroville Consulting, as a SAVI Volunteer.

This would mark the end of my endless travel over last 2 months. Finally I could pick up reading some books again and exercise regularly. I found someone to teach me martial arts in Auroville. He is an incredible guy, his guruji may be Master Roshi for all I know.

From Palakkad Junction, i.e. Kerala & Tamil Nadu border, writing to you with nothing but love.

Call me by your name.

ॐ नमः शिवाय।

Concluding thoughts

I volunteered to spread joy through kindness. I accomplished this first in the day, which was to perform one kind and selfless act. Even simple tiny gestures like brewing fresh coffee for strangers in the innumerable dormitories I visited, was a step in the right direction ✔️ .

Good luck to you too. And share your experiences in the comments.



Rishi Singhal

Forever Curious, On a Quest