No-one became poor by giving


It’s time to give. I have walked the walk and talked the talk. Now I needed to give. I had decided that I would buy all the resources for the slum school myself and give them in person. That way, I could decide what to buy, and being a teacher, I knew which resources would best benefit the children I had been teaching. The other reason being I knew that all the money that I had raised would be used directly for the children’s education, and not be lost or used within the charity system. The remaining money collected for the Brian Tumour Charity I would give personally to my friend Mat Bayfield, when I returned to the UK.



But, by buying all the books, I had not once given a thought to the way I was going to be able to deliver them. I needed help, and I had to withdraw my two sons from school to help me.



After looking at all the resources that I had bought for the school, even with help, and riding by taxi, instead of taking the train it was going to take two visits. So the first day I used Andrew my eldest son, and we ordered a taxi to the slum to meet Marie the teacher I had been teaching with the most. Andrew was excited about going to slum, to see what it was like and to meet all the children and the teachers. He has had to put up with all my stories over the whole time we have lived in India. Now he was going to see for himself and make his own opinions.

Sadly, when we arrived at the school, the children had not come back from their summer break, so we only met Marie. She was amazed by how many books there were and was more amazed at how Andrew and I had managed to carry them.

I had to tell her that I would not be coming back to work on the slum. After the end of June, and we both shed a tear. She then quickly said that it was not goodbye, and that our paths would cross again. I have found lot of Indian say this, and I like it, and with the time and experiences I have had, I am sure that I will come back. Who knows, it might be to promote my book about the walk.



We didn’t stay for long, and knowing I would be coming back for another drop off, made the fact that I was leaving Indian easier for us all to handle. I asked Marie when would the children be coming back into school, and she told me, tomorrow. So we left and I said I will see you tomorrow.

So, on the second visit the next day to the slum school, I also employed my youngest son, Theo, to help me as well. This time we had a few more books to deliver, but mostly we had to deliver all our no longer wanted clothes, that Marie would pass onto to children on the slum. Included were boxes of Lego and Konnex that the boys had out grown, duvet quilts and anything that would be useful that we were not shipping on.

Again we had to catch a taxi, and afterwards, get a rickshaw and train home, which the boys loved. The driver of the taxi was amazed by the amount of stuff we had squeezed into his car. He was also really curious why we were going to slum, and I had to explain that I was a voluntary teacher there.

This time when we arrived at the slum with bags and bags of stuff, the children were in class and learning. After removing our shoes, we entered Marie classroom, and all the children stood up and welcomed us. My two boys just couldn’t believe the amount of respect shown to us. Soon Andrew and Theo were sitting on the floor with the children and helping them with their work. Some of the new resources were already being used, and again, this brought a tear to my eye.




We then walked over to the other side of the slum to deliver all the resources that I had bought for the other class I had taught in. Again, I would not have been able to have transport all the stuff without the help of my two sons. When we walked through the slums, people were staring at us, carrying all these books, but the boys just smiled and followed me to the other classroom.

Here, just like Marie’s classroom, the children all stood up and welcomed us into their classroom. The teacher Misty was speechless when she saw all the resources that we had given to their classroom. The children had also made me a picture with some kind words on the back.


Soon, the boys were helping the children learn and then they joined in a game called ‘fire in the mountain’ where the children run around in a circle and the teacher sings ‘fire in the mountain, run, run, run.’ Then a number is called and the children have to get themselves into a group with that number in it. Lots of pushing and laughter, Andrew and Theo were enjoying themselves, one 6 year old girl would not let Andrew go and just kept looking up at him, he was double her size; it made me feel like laughing and crying at the same time.



The morning session was finished by everyone standing and singing the Indian National Anthem.  Again we all joined in, I almost know it now!



We walked back across the slum back to Marie’s class, and the boys meet some more of the teachers. I promised that I would come back next week for the final time, even though I have still not packed all our stuff to be shipped. The boys loved it so much they also asked if they could come back next week too, and hopefully I will also bring my wife Michelle as this has been such a big part of my life whilst living here in India, I want my whole family to see and meet all the children and teachers of such a wonderful place. A Mumbai Slum.

As the title of this blog says, it never makes you poor when you give. I would say it does more than that, by giving my time and experience to these people, I have been the one that has received. I will never, ever, forget my experience here and I feel lucky that I was given the chance to teach in a Mumbai slum.  I really do hope I can come back soon.


My task is complete.


Thank You.


I would like to thank all the people that have followed me on my journey. All your kind donations and comments on my blog have really kept me motivated and determined to fulfil my goal.

I would like to thank the two charities that I have tried to raise money for… and will be contacting once all the donations have stopped coming in. Those being…

Door Step School Mumbai: the slum school that I teach in here in Mumbai;

Brian Tumour Charity:  A great charity back in the UK. My friend Mat Bayfield will be taking charge of any money that I have raised from my walk.

A special thanks to Johnny Ball, my partner in crime for a week. I really enjoyed your company and enthusiasm. Just hope I am not too old to join you when you plan your next adventure!

I would like to make a special thank you to my brother Steven Massey, who phoned me nearly every day on my walk just to check I was still alive.

A special thank you to my good friend Richard Smith.  Again he phoned me most days. But he also gave me sound advice and technical support in running the donation campaign and, of course, the blog.

The walk was made special thanks to all the wonderful people I was lucky enough to meet on my travels. People looked after me, fed me, gave me their houses to sleep in, translated for me, gave me lifts, gave me sound advice, without which I don’t want to think could have happened. But the most important thing they gave me was a piece of themselves and they made me happy. There are far too many to name here, but when I write my book, they will all be listed. Once again, thank you all my new friends.

The last thank you must go to my family. Andrew Massey and Theo Massey for supporting their dad’s mad idea, not crying too much when I left, and for cheering me up every morning and every evening on the phone.

Lastly, the wife. Michelle Massey. Firstly for understanding that not only women have mid-life crises, and that this was mine, well one of them anyway. For helping me organise all the campaigning and gathering of all my provisions. For her financial support, which made this trip possible. For her editing skills and uploading 100s of photos every day onto the blog that I hope you all enjoyed reading.  But lastly, for just being there to talk to on the phone, and sort of understanding why I would want to do something as mad as this.

Please note the blog will remain open for anyone that hasn’t donated yet, and thinks they might. After the 6th June, any monies donated will go to the Brain Tumour Charity as I will be buying all the resources for Door Step School, my slum school, in the first week of June.

Now I am back from walking, you will pleased to know I am back writing my other blog, the life of a teacher in a Mumbai slum. If you haven’t yet subscribed please do so:


Once again, thank you.


John Massey:


Questions And Answers.

Q.Did you follow the Godavari River all the way?

 A.No, I followed its route but not by its banks as it was too remote.

Q. Did you walk all the way?

 A.No. I walked all that I could and every day that I could. But after hearing about the dangers of wild leopards, I had to get rid of the tent. This changed the whole trip from as early on as day three. With no tent, I then had to make sure I could walk to a town that had accommodation. This then meant that sometimes the towns were too far apart for me to walk without anywhere to sleep. So, after walking up to 25 km, I would have to get to the next town anyway that I could. Another problem was a large part of the route was dense forest with no accommodation and no place to get water. I was advised to miss this part out. There was also a risk in this area of terrorist attacks. So this made the walking part of this trip shorter than I had planned.

Q. Why did you not walk any more distance in a day?

 A. The reason for this was the temperature, which could reach 45 degrees by 11.00am. So I had a time frame of when it was safe to walk, starting at 5.00am finishing before 11.00am.

Q. What else stopped your walking progress?

 A. Blisters. I had two days where I could hardly walk at all.

Q. What was your worst moment?

 A. Sitting around in a hotel, waiting for my blisters to improve so I could walk again.

Q. Was the trip still unguided and unplanned?

 A. Absolutely, every day I would revise the route, meet people and change the plan again. 

Q. Did you break any records? Were you the first person to walk the whole length of the Godavari River?

 A. Hand on heart, no, I didn’t break any records. It was impossible for me alone, unguided, with no tent, to follow the river the whole way. Most of my walking was done following its path, but walking on the roads.

Q. So did you walk across India?

 A. Yes I did, to the best of my ability and I covered 584kms in 31 days.

Q. Would you do it again?

 A. No way.

Q. What did you enjoy and learn from the trip?

 A. Most people in the world are good, and that is something we all easily forget. I was lucky to meet total strangers that have become my friends. They fed me, gave me shelter, given me sound advice and made me happy.


This quest started out as a physical challenge and a way to promote walking, something we can all do.  It was certainly the hardest physical thing I have ever done. I hope people will read my blog and will feel motivated to enjoy the natural freedom of walking and being outside. But meeting all the different people that helped me during my journey is what made it for me.

Q. Will you write a book?

 A. I really hope so. I just hope someone will want to publish the journey of a lost teacher walking across India wearing a pink hat.

Q. What is next?

 A. To spend some time with my family. To carrying on walking as much as I can, but without a massive heavy rucksack on my back!


Thanks to all my friends and supporters


The Sandgrounder’s Last Day.


So this was the plan: meet the family and we all walk the last 5km together. Sounds easy, but it is all in the timing. Michelle and the boys had flown out to meet me and were staying the night in Rajahmundry, because it would have been too late to meet up that evening.  I was spending my last night in a place called Ramachandrapuram and we had planned to meet in Yanam, my final destination.

It was a bad last night.  The hotel was awful and the noise of people talking and enjoying themselves had kept me awake for most of the night. When I got up at 4.00am, I certainly wasn’t feeling my best. But now I was working on nervous energy and was so much looking forward to seeing my family again, that one night’s missed sleep was not going to keep me down.




After a 1km walk to the bus station, I managed to catch the 5.30am bus into Yanam. I had figured out that I had almost three hours walking before I met the family. My last walk alone, and I didn’t really know what I was expecting. But, like most things that have happened to me on this journey, it was amazing. I had decided to take a path and walk the closest I could get following the Godavari on its last journey into the Bay of Bengal. Here the river and I had something in common: we were both coming to the end of our long journey.


After leaving the bus behind and really not wanting to see another Indian bus ever again, I was walking again. I thought I would feel emotional, as I have been for a lot of the days when I was walking alone for hours. But I really didn’t feel that way at all.  I was just determined to concentrate on the moment and enjoy the present. This was the end and I was going to enjoy every last moment.



I walked through Yanam and I was really impressed by how clean it was compared to most of the towns I had walked through. People were just going about their morning routines of brushing their teeth and emptying their bowels on the streets, something that after nearly 5 weeks out in early morning India I have got so used to seeing.

It wasn’t long before I found myself walking next to the river. It was just a track and my friend, Google Maps, was guiding me all the way.


People were working on the river, and working hard. They were dredging sand from the bottom of the river and filling their boats to such a point it was unbelievable that they were not sinking. Shiva, a friend I had met a few days ago, told me that the collecting of this sand was totally illegal. I am not sure if this was true or not, but these people certainly didn’t seem at least bit shy, or embarrassed   by what they were doing.


The Sandgrounders


I had a thought, and wondered what damage collecting this amount of sand could be causing to the river. But this was big business and with the amount of cement this country uses, sand is a necessity. I met more locals and a guy on a motor bike followed me along the path, and got me to take photos of every sandgrounder that I passed, the workers enjoy posing for the camera. All smiles and cheers, as I clicked away. These guys were wearing nothing expect their under pants and a towel wrapped around their heads. This was heavy work, not just dredging the sand, but also carrying it to the shore. One guy poses showing his muscles and sweat, as the heat bears down at 7.30am.



Soon I left the river and followed a path inland, heading towards a small village I could see in the distance. I needed to find the main road where I had planned to meet the family. I came to a mass of open land, and here I saw children playing cricket.  They called me over. I was going to decline my last game of cricket purely because of the time and the meeting that I had planned. But I couldn’t resist a quick bat and bowl. Right arm over, spin, with the rucksack still on my back. Some young kid played and missed; the ball just misses his off stump, the crowd groans. Then it was my turn to bat, and I stroked the ball through the covers but I didn’t run – the rucksack was too heavy.


Through The Covers.


I soon found the road and had to walk quickly to time the meeting of the family who are travelling by car to meet me. I spoke to Michelle on the phone and we arranged to meet each other at a petrol garage near a jetty that goes into the Godavari. The timing was slightly out and the car with all of them in pulled up alongside me. I told them to continue on and I would meet them at the garage.  The driver of the car really couldn’t understand what was going on. But it just wouldn’t work, stopping the car on a single track road and all start hugging and kissing each other. I arrived at the garage and we all embraced.

But the walk had to continue and we all still had over an hour of walking to complete. But not without a dip in the water first. I have had many opportunities to swim in the great river and each time I have turned it down, wanting to save this for the end of the walk. The jetty I had in mind was not ideal, but this would be my only chance. The two boys and myself stripped down and got ready to enter the water. We were in a small fishing community and with 5 minutes, word had got around and soon we had about 30 boys and men watching us in amazement. The water was not too clean and the mud on the bottom felt like sinking sand but we still took the dip.



After a change of clothes, we were soon back walking. Andrew, my oldest son, was not feeling too well and walking in this heat was really not doing him much good at all. The driver that Michelle had paid to be with us all day just followed us as we walked along. I felt that at last I had a guide and the driver just thought we were all start raving mad!


The walk would finish at a tower called The Obelisk Tower in Yanam.  This was the place I had tried to picture in my mind for weeks. From here you could climb up a 100 meters and see the Godavari entering the sea. It was also a replica of the Eiffel Tower and was in the middle of nowhere.



90 minutes later, walking with my family, I reached the end of this massive journey. Again I thought this would be an emotional moment, but it wasn’t. It simply just felt good.


We took the lift to the top of the tower and the last photos were taken.

We got down from the tower and the driver was waiting, my walking had finished. But all the memories will forever be remembered.



Guest Blog: Mad Dogs and Englishmen…

“That Harry Kane is utter rubbish! If I were in charge, I’d leave him behind. And that Alli ‘nd all!”

By the time I arrived in Jagtial, John had been walking alone for almost 4 weeks and hadn’t told anyone how much he hated Harry Kane in that time. Poor fella must’ve been about to blow. It was plain to see his opinions on the striker hadn’t changed since the last time I saw him. I had flown to Amsterdam on my own last summer to meet up with some friends but this was my first proper solo travelling experience.  Jagtial is 4,858 miles away from Southport and it felt it after my first encounter with a couple of Indian blokes in broken English outside the room.

“You know Liverpool? Yeah near there.”

I gave up and just said I was from London.

Rather awkwardly, I let them take a few pictures with me before they saw a picture on my lockscreen of me and my girlfriend and wanted to take a picture of her much to my amusement. I told them they were cheeky, so they resorted to tempting me with mangoes. Tempted as I was I still said no.

The next day we did it all. I’m still struggling to come to terms with some of the stuff that happened as I write this. Fame for one. We lost count of the number of people we took pictures with on this day but we guestimated it was north of 50. Surreal enough for a white boy from the North West. With one of us being tiny and the other huge, we must’ve looked like the travelling circus to some of these people we met. Especially with these big girly hats on. Later that day we met a brilliant man named Shiva and stayed at ‘The Ritz’, saw the dried up Godavari and watched on as a body was burned in a pyre. We had cheap haircuts and head massages, rode on the back of tractors and saw rice fields a horizon long. We embraced religion and became stars of the local press.

I think Lou Reed said it best in his song Perfect Day.

“Milner’s gotta be on the plane, he’s the best player we’ve got!”

“Milner retired after the last euros, John”


In all fairness I really hope Milner comes out of retirement for the World Cup but I just can’t see it happening.

We were supposed to be stopping off at a place called Thimmapur and then walking some 15km to a larger town called Mancherial in order to get a bus 300km to avoid a terrorist hotspot.  John couldn’t pronounce Thimmapur to the bus driver and resorted to calling it a Tombliboo, which made me laugh. His pronunciation of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is even better. We walked for a while and came to a bridge over the river. Shiva had said the day before that the water was plentiful further downstream and that you could go boating there. I’d read a bit about the Godavari before I flew out, but nothing prepares you for it. Standing on that bridge was like looking out over an empire. I’ve been in pure awe a few times in my life and this was one of them. Pictures could never do it justice. For once, it was easy to zone out and ignore the perpetual horns of the road behind me and in that moment, I’ve solemnly seen such an area of natural beauty, so untouched by humanity. Perhaps only the Commando’s Memorial in the Scottish Cairngorms could top it.

All the buses and lorries in India, or middle India at least, are all remnants of colonialism and when Britain ruled the world. It’s easy to forget how recently British rule ended, but when everything is more than 50 years old and with ‘Leyland’ written on the front, it puts things into perspective. After India gained independence, British Leyland Motors joined forces with a recently developed Indian company called Ashok Motors to create the aptly named Ashok Leyland. Because the trucks and buses they made were so reliable, and because they don’t seem to care much for pollution in this country, they’re still in operation today. I went to college in Leyland and they make my old college buses look like private limousines in comparison (context: Runshaw buses are famously terrible).

Regardless, we had to take one of these rickety sweatboxes 300km to meet up with the river further downstream after a terrorist attack the week before claimed 36 people in the area we were about to wander into. A comparatively late start at 5am to get the bus at 6 was welcomed and in all my naivety, I was actually looking forward to the journey. I thought I’d get a window seat (the seats were more like Church pews than seats in hindsight) so I could see as much of the country as I could for the advertised 8 hour journey. It took 10.5 hours and the windows were so dirty you couldn’t see out. Oh and it was 44oC. And it was a full bus.  Hey ho, but I’ll remember it forever.

“Start: Nashik. Walking. Finish: Yanam.”

I became an expert on making the walking gesture with my fingers by the end of my time in India. The people we met were very simple types and for the most part could only ever manage to ask the same 3 questions:

‘Where are you from?’

‘What are you doing?’

‘Why are you doing it?’

After you tell them what you’re doing, most of them sort of just nod at you as if to say “Oh, I see” or “Walking across the country? Oh, alright yeah, fair enough then.”  After that they mostly just shake your hand and walk off to go about their day. Simple types for you. John claims to have been to as many as 80 or so countries in his time and said he’d never been anywhere as rural as some of the villages we went through on yet another lengthy bus journey. Think mud huts, shacks and desperately thin women somehow carrying a baby in each hand and a water barrel on their head.


After one of these villages, we were given a lift to a slightly more civilised village for a water stop by a guy named Raj on a tiny Enfield bike. To our amusement, Raj kept shouting out phrases in what must’ve been the same American accent from whatever Bruce Willis film he was quoting. Once in this village we were totally swarmed and I was left on my own to satisfy some 15 or so villagers whilst John and Raj sped off to get water. We were the first white people to ever pass through their village, nevermind stop for a drink, so I had to make the most of it. I felt like a politician shaking hands, meeting families and taking pictures. I ended up exchanging numbers with a guy called Murali and it was only once he texted me the next day that I realised the impact I’d had on these people’s lives. His whatsapp picture was and still is a picture of me and him. A couple of days afterwards, he added me on Facebook and surprise, surprise, it’s the same picture. I scrolled through the comments and to my intrigue, all his friends were commenting about how jealous they were of him and how ‘great’ a picture it was.  All because he got a picture with an English kid. Mental.

I’d ticked just about everything I wanted to tick off and then some during the week I spent walking around. The one thing that eluded me was some proper Indian monsoon rain. We had the beginnings of it at one point but it quickly trailed off into English rain. On my final day we crossed over the Godavari again into a larger town called Rajahmundry.

 Rajahmundry was nearing the Godavari’s mouth into the sea at Yanam, so John’s finishing line was within touching distance. The bridge over the Godavari looked like the same one as over the River Kwai and at the point where the bridge was built, it was 5km from bank to bank. Slightly further downstream, it must’ve been some 8km wide. The river was so wide at this point that there were 3 islands separating the river into 3 separate flows. When the rains come, the Godavari will become one single 8km wide empire of water. We’d reached John’s hotel for the night, parted ways and I was headed for the local airport. Airport is a tad rich though because I’ve seen houses bigger. There were 3 gates, 3 flights and about 3 other people in the entire airport. I was due to board in 30 minutes and then the rains came.  Obviously I’m used to rain and wind but not like this. I’ve seen videos of hurricanes in America like Sandy and Katrina and those images were all I can compare it too. The wind horrific and the rain redundant. I couldn’t take off in this, surely. Time ticked away and the airport roof felt like it could’ve blown off. My flight had been delayed about 30 minutes now but the flight before mine had boarded and must have been waiting for a gap in the weather so it could take off. The rains hadn’t eased off and were still roaring away and at this point I couldn’t contact anyone as O2 had suspended my account (I’ll just end up ranting if I touch on this topic so I’ll give it a wide bearth as John would say).

So it’s goodbye from me and it’s goodbye from him!

I was alone in the middle of monsoon rains in the middle of nowhere. And my propeller powered plane didn’t look like it could handle being blown on let alone monsoon winds.  Then, someone turned the rains off. Just like that, the sun came out and the winds totally stopped. The first plane took off and 5 minutes later we were hauled onto our plane. I’d never seen anything like it. Hurricane chasers talk about the eye of the storm being a moment of peace and ultimate tranquillity before shortly being bombarded with the rest of the hurricane again but this was no hurricane. The rains hadn’t moved further inland or gradually calmed down; they had just stopped. Stranded in the middle of a monsoon? Completed it mate.

I will remember my first time in India for the rest of my life. The people, the experiences, the fear, the animals, the space, the bus journeys, the awe, but mostly the absurd, innate desire for drivers to use their horns.

Shiva Me Timbers

It was Johnny’s first day and what a day it was. He is the son of my wife’s friend and joined me for the walk for a week; he is 19. It was so good to have company, and someone that understood what I was saying. It had been nearly 4 weeks for me without this simple privilege.

I was worried that Johnny might struggle to get up at 4.00am, what with being jet lagged and working on a different time zone. But the boy did good and soon we were walking together, watching the sun come up in the best scenery I had seen so far.



As we walked, we talked and it was obvious that we were going to get on just fine. I was wondering if we would get as much attention from the locals being two of us, rather than me on my own. In fact we got more during the course of the walk.  50 or more people stopped. I explained to Johnny that people stop because they might want to help, they are curious or mostly they just want a selfie of a white man that is lost.



I told him that some people stop and offer to give you a lift, but that most of the time, I refuse.  On some occasions, however, for the experience, I accept. Then I told Johnny that I had got lifts on all sorts of transport during the walk, but only after I had walked a certain distance first. After all I am supposed to be walking across India, not hitching.

I didn’t why but that day, I thought a tractor would stop, and I told Johnny that.  He just looked at me as if to say why? That’s a bold comment. We walked on through several villages and we were swamped by friendly locals all wanting to know why we were walking and wearing ladies hats. I saw a fire station and took a photo.




We continued and the heat was picking up.  We had been walking for nearly 15 km, and I was conscious of Johnny not being used to this walking lark, even though he was more than capable and obviously a lot, lot younger than me. Then, just as I predicted, a tractor pulled over and before we knew it, we were sitting on the back of a tractor full of corn. Johnny just couldn’t believe it and even though I had predicted it, we were both in shock. We boarded and lay amongst the grain, thinking how and why did this happen?





We didn’t stay long on the tractor and were soon walking again, and being stopped by every other motor bike or person we passed in the villages. After about 4 hours of walking and socializing, we reached the out skirts of the town we were going to stay in. Another vehicle stopped this time, a large 4 by 4 jeep.  The guy driving poked his head out of the window and said he would like to help us and show us around. We refused the lift but I took his number, his name was Shiva. He invited us to his brother’s wedding, even though he’d just met us.

We asked further about his brother’s wedding, thinking we could stay and attend, but Shiva told us it was in two days’ time, so we had to decline and get back walking.

We found a great hotel with AC and Johnny named it The Ritz.  Compared to where we had stayed last night, when Johnny had arrived late from the airport, this was a palace.

I asked him how he was feeling after the long walk, he replied that the walking itself was ok, but everything else that had happening was overwhelming. We had just settled into the room when I heard some drumming and loud music playing outside. I thought it was a wedding but I was wrong – it was a funeral. I just managed to get a photo of the massive parade of people that were following the dead body being carried through the streets.


Funeral parade


As we walked into the town earlier I had noticed a barbers, a real Sweeney Todd’s. I mentioned to Johnnie that maybe later, we should get our haircut as it would be a laugh, and he agreed. So there we were, a haircut and a shave for both of us costing less than £1.50.



After the barbers, we returned to the hotel with almost no time to eat. But this day just kept on going, and just as we were relaxing, Shiva phoned and told us he was coming to get us. He was here from Mumbai for his brother’s wedding and wanted to show us around. He first bought us ice creams and water and then drove us to his family’s home where food was made especially for us. He explained that his family own a timber yard and sawmill which we were able to look around. Hence the name of this blog.

He then drove us down to see the Godavari River; it was so dry. It was also so hot my phone and camera wouldn’t operate temperatures was over 45 degrees.

The Dry River
Johnny, Shiva and his sister.
Body burning

We were just walking back to the car to get out of the heat when I noticed a fire burning on the banks of the river. Shiva explained this was a funeral and the body was being burnt. It was the same body we had witnessed earlier from the balcony of the hotel.


We then went for a second ride and discovered Shiva had planned a boat trip. We stopped by the side of the road; again we were soon joined by the whole village as Shiva bought us sugar cane juice. What a guy! We had only just met him and he was treating us like royalty.  He then said stop thanking me, this is what travelling is all about people helping other people.  So true I thought, I hope I could return the compliment one day.



Just as we got back into the car with all his family and were about to set off to the boat ride, Shiva was told it was closed. That didn’t deter Shiva; the boats maybe closed, he said, we’ll go to the temple instead, so we did.




We approached the temple and soon Shiva and his family were showing us around.After being approached by more people in the temple, it was time to get away from the crowds and to the safety of the hotel. This is what it must feel like to be famous. We said goodbye to Shiva who was planning to meet us again tomorrow. But before he left us he went out to buy us bananas and water.


Johnny laid on the bed speechless. I just smiled and we were just about to call it a day, when Shiva phoned to say he’d got our bananas and water, but also that the local press were with him.  They wanted to interview me there and then.   I put the phone down, opened the door of the hotel room, where Johnny was laying on the bed, nearly asleep.

‘J’, I said ‘the press are here and are coming up to our room right now’. Johnny quickly got off the bed and sorted his hair.

They interviewed us for 10 minutes with Shiva translating and also gave us the bananas and water.


The next morning we had to catch a bus to the next village so we could safely walk the distance in the time allowed. An old guy got on the bus, he looked at me and then looked again, so many people stare at me I didn’t give it a second thought. Then he looked again and closely looked at the newspaper he was reading. Then he showed me the newspaper and there we were in the press of a local Indian paper. Unbelievable!

Soon the whole bus knew we were famous and were aware of the good reasons we were walking. We got off the bus to start the next day’s walk and everyone on the bus shook our hands and clapped us. We waved as the bus left and we put our rucksack on and started to walk.


Fame at last

S.V. and Naresh.


I had met both SV and Naresh walking on the road the day before. They had stopped on their bike, asked what and why I was walking and I explained my mission to them. They told me when I arrived at the next town, Korutla, to give them a call and they would meet me.


S.V, Naresh and Me.


So the next day and after a small walk of only 11 km, I phoned S.V. He came and met me at the bus station in the central part of town. First these guys, who I had just met briefly, bought me breakfast. I was then driven to SV’s office and given tea and water. He was a cement dealer, amongst other business activities. He told me that I could stay at his house for the night. It was so good to have some company. It had been a few days since I had met anyone, and when you meet people, it makes the trip so much more interesting.



SV had to go to work. So Naresh, his friend, took me to SV’s house. What a lovely place; I would be sleeping in the lean-to outside on the floor. This was not a problem. My only concern was the mosquitoes, but I was assured I had nothing to worry about, and when I did finally go to sleep that night, they were right. I didn’t get bitten once.


Naresh talked to me while he did my washing, and we waited for it to soak. This was the second time that my clothes had been washed properly, most days I have just rinsed them through using shampoo. He told me how he was in real estate, but recently business had been very slow. But he also owned a mango farm which provided him with enough money to get by.


Whilst Naresh did the washing, he told me that in India they have no machines and he used his feet to wash my clothes instead! I was amazed to watch this.






Naresh doing my washing Indian style.


Brilliant, a great guy with a great sense of humour. We laughed together for the next few hours.

Soon it was time for Naresh to go and then I was back in the capable hands of SV. He picked me up on his bike and took me back to his cement office. Soon all his friends and family had come down to the office to meet me. SV was a very busy man, but he was determined me to show me his town and all his friends. First, after he bought me lunch, where I had more practice eating rice with my fingers, we were on his bike again, sight-seeing most of the day.


First a trip to the nearby lake. I was stunned by the green colour of the water and I had trouble trying to translate the word algae into Hindi for him to understand.

Next, he showed me an apartment he was trying to sell and a massive building plot. He was certainly more than just a cement dealer. His family were staying in Mumbai and he said we could meet up when I return.



Then in the evening, we saw more of his friends and it seemed he was a very popular guy in his home town and that was not at all surprising.




S.V in his friend’s shop


He was also aware of my internal body clock and when I need to go to sleep. So we returned to his house after a full-on day. Later, we were joined by Naresh and they expressed their concerns about my planned route. They informed me that the route I was planning was very dangerous for the following reasons. Firstly, just the other week, in a town I was planning to pass through, there had been a terrorist attack and 35 people were shot. Secondly, there was no accommodation on the route as the journey would take me through thick forest. Thirdly, there had been reports of kidnapping, and wild animal attacks. Finally, there were no places, or villages, where I could get water.


They were generally worried about my well-being and advised me to take a bus through this area. Just as before, when I disposed of the tent, I think I needed to listen to their advice. So I decided I would listen. This would cut the distance of the trip, but as my wife Michelle keeps reminding me, I am not Bear Grylls. I am just a walking lost school teacher!


It makes me think again how lucky I was to bump into such people and without their advice, who knows what could have happened to me further on my journey?

At night SV laid next to me on the floor and informed me he will wake up with me and take me to the bus station where I can continue my journey the next day. But before he slept, he mediated. In the morning, he told me that he had been meditating since he was a boy and that his father was a spiritual healer.

We woke up and he gave me some herbal tea (which he said was 30 years old and would keep my blood pressure level) and some lemon juice. He then blessed me for my journey. I jumped on his bike feeling really good and ready to carry on my adventure. We said good bye, but I think we will stay in contact. More wonderful people I am so lucky to have met by fate on this journey.


LB, Sarang, Lata and The Shanti Project

Woke this morning to a power cut, so packing the rucksack and pampering the feet took so much longer. It was all done with the help of my torch. I was ready and just about to walk out of the hotel when the power came back on. Oh well, let’s just walk.

It was a 16km walk today and my feet were not feeling too bad. But I never get over confident, because I know it won’t be long before a new blister develops.

When walking on the road side, obviously you have to be very careful of the traffic. In most parts of the world, the rule of thumb is to always walk facing the oncoming traffic, but not in India.

The cars, trucks, tractors and any other vehicle you can think of all believe they have the power to over (or under) take. This means if you walk with your back to the traffic, you can face the over-taking cars coming from the opposite direction. I have found the overtaking cars to be the most dangerous, so it is those I decided to face. At times, they are so keen to over-take that they leave the road and come on to the dirt on the side of the road of I usually walk on.

So after nearly completing my target walk for the day, another man stops on his bike. An older man this time, 50 maybe. I know he is not interested in a selfie. We talked and I decided to take his help and jumped on his bike. Again I am so glad I did. We drove off but after only 50 meters he stopped and pulled into a roadside shack. ‘Shall we have some tea?’ he asked and I thought ‘why not?’

LB and me in a local restaurant

We were not there long before LB told all the people in the shack about my quest. They all shook my hand and all the tea was free. Some guy approached me and gave me his sunglasses.

My new sunglasses!

LB then got on the phone; he told me he knew someone that lived in the town, Parbhani, that would look after me. He said he was sure he would love to meet me. It was only a 2km walk to town and I insisted I would walk. I was just leaving when LB’s phone rang. He gave it to me. The guy on the other end of the phone spoke perfect English and told me not to book a lodging, but instead have LB bring me to his house. So I did. Back on the bike and soon I was at the house of Sarang and Lata. I was greeted and blessed into their home.

Being  blessed by Lata

We talked and I found out he was a social worker and was doing all sorts of things for charity. It was like we had met before. I sat in his house and we exchanged stories. Then he showed me my room; it was massive and took up the whole of the top floor of his lovely town house. Fate, I was thinking, there must be someone looking over me. How can I keep being this lucky?

Look at the size of my room for the night!


They then fed me breakfast and arranged an agenda for me for the day. Sarang explained that he and Lata are helping run the Shanti Project. This a project set up by an orphan girl from this town, Shanti, who was adopted by German parents. Later she returned to India to try to find her biological mother but was unsuccessful. Lata saw her and gave her land and the project was formed. Money is raised to support and help women to stop them giving up their children and it also gives them a role in society where they can earn their own independent money.

There is more information about the project on this link:

First I am shown their office, then we visit the hospital Shanti was born in and adopted from.

Outside the hospital







Bench at the hospital

This was my first experience of going into an Indian hospital. The first thing that I was blown away by was the smell, and to be honest, it wasn’t a smell you could call hygienic. It was a maternity hospital and I was informed 60 children are born here every day.

I get to see a new born baby, only 15 hours old.

A new life

We leave the hospital and I am driven to the red light district. Part of the project is to get women working, sewing, making things to sell to discourage them from going into prostitution. So within 10 minutes, I have gone from a hospital to a brothel.

Visiting the brothel – reminded me of stables

The idea is stop the next generation from going down this route. I told Sarang that since living in India, I had not seen many signs of prostitution. He answered that the more it is hidden, the worse it is.

I was then shown all the workshops that have been set up for these women to work in.

The sewing ladies

I visited three separate locations and even a slum area. Each time I received a blessing on entering the properties. In total, I was blessed four times in one day and given flowers and wreaths.

More blessings

What a day, I couldn’t believe how much I had enjoyed entering these wonderful peoples’ homes and lives.

We returned to the house and I talked to the son, Loukric, who showed me how to do the Rubix cube in less than a minute. I had go and thought back to the 1980s, when I only ever managed to do that once and that was down to pure luck.

Loukric and me

In the evening LB turned up with his two wonderful sons and we all had dinner together. He brought me flowers.

Flowers, for me?


Going out together in the evening, I bought some peanuts and dried fruits for walking energy. We talked late into the night, and I felt sure I would know these people forever. A week after this blog, they travelled to Mumbai on business and met up with my family.

You would be hard pushed to make all this stuff up.


Me with Lata and Sarang


A village, an Ox, a Dam and a Temple

It was really dark this morning when I sent off, so a torch was needed. Most mornings, I am up so early to leave the hotel that I have to wake the guards up who are usually asleep on the floor. It wasn’t long before the sun came up and I had walked out of the town and found myself in rural India. I was enjoying the walk and I felt lucky to walking in such landscapes. Soon I walked passed a small village, a farming village. I stopped and took some pictures. I was amazed by the small houses these people were living in.

Villagers huts

As I was taking the photos, a young guy waved me over. I accepted and soon found myself inside a rural farming village.  With no English, I managed to find out that these people were sugar cane farmers. I was invited to eat with them and drink chai, so I did. It made me think of all those travel programs I had watched on the TV, and made me wonder if all the filming was pre-planned. This one certainly wasn’t.

I tried to explain why I was here and showed the golden ticket that explained my mission, but no one could read. One women just said ‘no school’.

Sitting outside a hut, drinking tea, I could have sat there for hours and soaked up this totally new experience, but I realised I had a whole day of walking ahead of me, so I had to move on. For the first time, I almost resented the walking, thinking it was getting in the way of all these wonderful new experiences. Then I thought if I wasn’t walking and was travelling by bus or train, I would never have stumbled across such a place.

Close-up of the huts
Cooking the tea
Lady preparing food







A lovely cup of chai

I was just about to get up and leave when the guy, who had first invited me into their village, pointed to an ox cart. There were three oxen – two in the front and one behind. He climbed up onto the cart and pointed for me to join him. I know I was supposed to be walking, but I couldn’t resist, so I jumped on board!  We hit the road. I sat back and smiled. He controlled the beasts with clicking and blowing sounds to make them change direction. I had nearly 20 km to walk ahead of me and I think he was prepared to take me all the way.

After about 10 minutes some guy that was walking along the road overtook us. I knew then it was time to get off this cart and start walking again! I managed to get him to stop. I asked him to take a photo while I held the reins. I didn’t realise, but as I was posing for the photo, I was pulling the reins and the ox started to walk backwards. For a moment, I was a bit worried. He smiled and soon took control. Then he shook my hand and wanted nothing, but I gave him 300 rupees, (around £3.20). He took my money and smiled. This was probably more than he earns in a week.

Driving the ox cart

After walking for sometime, nearly 4 hours, it was time to stop and doctor my feet. This is something that I need to do at least once, sometimes more, during the course of a walking day. Change my socks, let my feet breathe, change the plasters and apply talcum power, deodorant and Vaseline. I was sitting down going through my procedures and, as usual, was soon surround by people watching what can only be described as for them, a crazy occurrence.  While this was going on, a man turned up that could speak English.  I told him what I was doing and he explained my journey to the on looking crowd.  He told me that he was a photographer for the local media.  His name was also Satis; he told me that his name meant ‘satisfied’.

Satis (holding up 2 fingers)

We exchanged numbers.  He understood my mission and bought me water and chai. He told me that I should walk along the path, not the road, to Paithan,  the next town, as it runs past the 2nd biggest dam in India – the Jayakwadi Dam. This was the first dam in India to supply power.

It is fed by the Godavari River so I was excited to be seeing the river again.

The Jayakwadi Dam

The Jayakwadi Dam one of the largest irrigation projects in the Indian state of Maharashtra.  It is a multipurpose project. The water is mainly used to irrigate agricultural land in the drought-prone Marathwada  region of the state. It also provides water for drinking and industrial usage to nearby towns and villages and to the municipalities and industrial areas of Aurangabad and Jalna district.  The surrounding area of the dam has a garden and a bird sanctuary.

It felt really good to be walking on a path and not a road, and after 13 km, I reached the dam. It was massive and the lake feeding it so vast it looked like the sea. I walked on over a bridge where I could see both the dam and the Godavari. In the distance, I saw people digging in the sand.  They were looking for anything valuable to sell, or even coins. Everyone was so busy digging that they took no notice of me, and I enjoyed not be stared at.

Women digging in the sand banks








The river

I continued along and I could see there was an easy path down to the river, so I walked down and touched the water of the great Godavari. Here, too, people were busy working; this time they were panning in the river to find anything valuable.

When I looked into the river, I could see all sorts of things that the river had washed up, but the thing that amazed me the  most were the stone statues. Broken faces from old temple statues just laying on the river bank or in the river.







My favourite picture so far

I looked at these statues and as I touched them, I wondered where they had come from and how old they were. Just as I am admiring these works of art and history, a fight broke out on the river bank.  Some young guy had panned up something valuable in the river. Everyone ran after him and he moved further into the river to get away from them. They all wanted what he had found. I just looked on with total amazement.

Men panning in the river

It made me think that surely these abandoned stone statues must be worth more than finding the odd coin. But these people would not dream of moving these items simply out of respect for their religion.

I needed to move on. I had a final look down the great river, and hoped I’d be able to  see it again soon.  Shortly after, I reached the town and found a hotel.  After a full morning’s walking on top of getting up at 4.30am, I am not usually fit for much else, but Satis phoned. He wanted to meet up, so despite my tiredness, I agreed.  He turned up at my hotel with his lovely daughter.

Satis and his daughter

And just like the first Satis I met, the millionaire, this Satis wanted to take me sight-seeing. My feet were really not up to much but he convinced me. We walked through a busy market, avoiding the strolling cows, and soon we found ourselves at a huge temple. Shoes off and we went inside.  As Satis is a photographer, he asked the people that are chanting and singing if it was ok for me to join them.  It was, so I did.

Me, with other devotees, in the temple

 The Eknath Maharaj Temple, or Shrine of Sant Eknath, is situated on the banks of the Godavari River in Paithan.  It is an extremely popular place for visitors, but receives a huge number of devotees during Nath-Shashthi.  This is the day on which Sant Eknath (one of the greatest saints of Maharashtra) left his body in River Godavari and took Jala samadhi (absolute dissolution in a live river) at Paithan. 

You can find more information on the temples along the Godavari in this link – I think I have seen most of them on this trip!

We walked outside and as the temple is situated on the banks of the river I get to see the Godavari again, this time at sunset.

The Godavari River behind me


We took a slow walk back to the hotel.  I grabbed my a dinner –  two samosas and I said goodbye to yet another great person (and his daughter).  He jumped on his bike and waved goodbye. I hope we can stay in touch.










Perfect Day

Since abandoning the tent, finding accommodation each day has been difficult. The problem is the distance between one town that has accommodation to the next town with accommodation. Sometimes it is over 60 km. Obviously, it is not possible for me to walk this in one day.  So, my dilemma was, do I set off at 5.00am and walk as far as I can go or, do I catch a bus, then have the bus drop me 20-25 km away from my destination, so I could walk the rest?  Not walking all the way was a disappointment to me, but with the leopards out in the wilds and the lack of accommodation en route, I was left with no other option.

My river

So today I decided to just walk and see what happens; my next available accommodation was 53 km away.  Some people would call this madness.  I thought if I could reach the first small settlement which was 25kms away, I could assess the situation from there.

Obviously I started early and needed to walk for about 40 minutes before the sun came up. I had been walking for about hour or so whena man stopped on his bike. People really can’t understand why anyone, especially a foreigner wearing a pink hat, should be walking. Each day I have at 5 to 10 motor bikes stop, most just want a picture, a selfie, with a strange foreigner but some want to help and give me a lift. I say ‘no, I am walking’, and I need to walk as much as I can.

Two oxen

But this guy, Asif, really wanted to help.  He was going my way, so I admit that there is no way I could walk 53 km, so I jumped on.  He drove, we talked. Soon we stopped and had a chi together. I explained my mission and now he is following the blog.

Asif and I drinking tea

He dropped me off and now the distance to my accommodation, was achievable as it was only 25 km. This was  a big walk for me; the most I had done since the second day of my walk.  I soldiered on and it was not too much further on that I saw a school. I crossed the road, and soon I was surrounded by 50 children. The teacher came out. I explained that I was walking across India for education and he invited me in. But first he checked my passport. I am amazed.  I looked at the playground and I wanted to stay and get the skipping ropes out that I have carried with me from the start. But I knew I couldn’t stay too long; it was getting late and I still had two hours of walking ahead of me.

School playground
Me and the school kids

This made me sad. I wished I could have stayed here all day, but the walking and the hot temperatures would not allow me to do so.

The teacher then asked if I could raise some money for his school. I was honest and so told him ‘no’.  There are thousands of schools, not just in India, that need help.

I went into the school and this school had desks and chairs so it couldn’t be that bad. The children, as always in India, were so respectful and all wanted to talk to me.

School girls hard at work

I wrote my blog address on the board for the teachers to follow my progress.

My blog address on the board – local followers now!

I was then invited into another classroom to watch children perform a dance they have been learning. The teacher explained the dance and the song. He told me that we were an agricultural community.  The song was in Marathi and had a meaning. The song and dance said if the children keep smiling, then God will provide what is needed for the crops to grow.

Dancing in class

Then just as I was about to leave, I was invited to join in on the dance. So, Michael Palin, eat your heart out. Daddy  Dancing to the rescue and I joined in with the children.


I left the school and hit the road once more. I reached the next town and found good accommodation.  All this before 12.30pm.

I thought back over the day.  I walked 25 km, even though my feet are paying the price. I saw the Godavari River, I met some great people and I danced in a primary school. The perfect day!