The project started out as a personal adventure for Aanchal Dhara Madan and also became a professional project for her husband who decided to make a documentary out of this major journey.
But for both of them, it became a journey into the heart of India(n).
"Indians love to honk. I always thought it was a city phenomenon, but I was wrong. Despite wide roads and miles of empty highway ahead of them, drivers still honk like their lives depend on it."
Aanchal's choice of sport, ultra-walking, enables her to walk into lives of locals as it is. No strings or facade attached, and the discovery that came a benefit of her project was nothing short of humbling.
People struggling for bare minimum offered her free food, politely declining any financial return whatsoever. Especially sugarcane farmers of Maharashtra who suffered great loss after bad rains:
"Farmers would offer me sugarcane to eat without asking for anything in return. Any offer of money was politely refused."
And that is the beauty of travel, at first it leaves you speechless and then turns you into a story-teller.
"This was something I noticed earlier as well—the ones who have less will happily give more. It has inspired me to be a person who’s not hung up about returns on investments all the time."
But what struck me most that other than a few extra honks here-there, Aanchal never felt unsafe. Despite walking on highways till late at night, she didn't have a single sour experience.
"There were a lot of curious glances and questions, but I’ve never felt unsafe...
To the contrary, people offered anything they could spare–sugarcane juice, water, tea, a hot meal… it was their way of contributing to my journey."