Brazilian pedals his way to land of Gandhi

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Pune: The love he nurtured for Mahatma Gandhi prompted 59-year-old Brazilian national Silvio Da Silva Durate to undertake a tour of India and to make the venture memorable, he chose to pedal to the land of Gandhi on a bicycle.

Currently in the city on the solo bicycle tour which has so far taken him to 18 Indian states covering over 10,000 km of distance, Silvio says India is a "unique destination" with its diverse culture.

Silvio, who teaches history and philosophy in Brazil and has been influenced by Gandhian thoughts, was toying with the idea of visiting India to have a feel of the country that gave the world the greatest icon of truth and non-violence and shook the imperialist powers in 20th century.

Sponsored by three Brazilian companies which includes a Radio station, Silvio undertook his journey on June 27, pedalling his way through Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, Orissa and other Indian states, trying to know the roots of people from where the preacher of non-violence emerged.

Acknowledging his language handicap, Silvio who knows only Portuguese said, "I started using signs and gestures and slowly picked up some English words to find directions while interacting with people on the way whom I found very friendly and honest."

Initially worried about parking his bicycle during his travel, Silvio said he gradually developed the confidence that no one would steal it.

"I even took a dip in holy river Ganga with the bicycle parked away at a distance laden with my belongings", he recalled. .

In his quest to relate to life in India and the people, the idealist adventurer camped on farms, cowshed, a rice mill and even a hospital ward. Silvio survived a minor mishap when a car brushed past his bicycle with its handle poking his stomach.

"It hurt for a few days and doctors prescribed painkillers. I became more careful along the way," he added.

Asked what he thought was the greatest quality that impressed him about Gandhi, Silvio said, "As a teacher of history, I think the greatness of this man served and still serves as an example of humanity. His philosophy of non-violence conquered the rulers and tyrants of the world armed with weapons."

With an energy level that defies his age, Silvio said after his current bicycle tour, he is contemplating repeating his India experience next time on a motorbike.

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