You journeyed the most of the countries in the world and collected many bittersweet experiences during the period. How do you recall your journey?
Pushkar Shah: I visited 150 nations of all seven continents in 11 years and completed 221,000 kms beginning my journey on 1 August, 1998. Somewhere, I enjoyed the rind of orange on the footpaths and sometimes I did not feel sleepy in the five-star hotels. Sometimes, I managed my meal by begging; while pizza did not satiate my hunger rest of the time. I walked in minus 5 degree Celsius of Rocky Mountain and also in the 50 degree Celsius of Sahara desert. Also, Pushkar Shah scaled Mt Everest on 17 May, 2010 by taking the national flags of all countries of the world.
As an unemployed youth, how you happened to think about the world cycle tour?
Pushkar Shah: Actually, I myself don’t know how this issue clicked in my mind while I was enjoying Chhang at a local Bhatti. But, after my higher studies, I thought to study the world; not to engage in a job. I was just aware that the world is round like a ball and you can return to the point from where you started your journey. But, how to read the world? My economic condition was not that much strong to cover the entire cost of the world tour. Truly, I even could not visit India or China on my own cost. I thought that cycle would help me travel the world if I have a will power.
Looking at the past, what gave you the cycle?
Pushkar Shah: Everything. It showed me up the world. The same cycle fed me the waters of the world. I took bath in the world’s waters. I enjoyed in the sand of Sahara desert. I enjoyed at the bottom of the Andes or Rocky Mountain. I experienced all the human made wonders of the world. This all became possible due to my cycle.
And for Nepalis?
Pushkar Shah: I was interviewed in 38 languages of nearly 500 newspapers, hundreds of radios, hundreds of televisions. I was interviewed for twice in the UN Radio. The media houses where I was interviewed, Nepal as the country of Mt Everest and Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, was heard by millions of peoples across the world.
Could you share some toughest moments that you witnessed during your world journey? Anything like happiness, depression, frustration or sublime.
Pushkar Shah: I faced lots of troubles. I was very near to the death when I was kidnapped in Mexico. I was almost dead. I have written a piece ‘Sipahi ko Runche Chhoro’ (a crying son of an army man) in my book. The story is gripping. It could be a short film too. But, I saved my life thinking that why not to struggle if I am going to die. I managed to escape from the clutches of the kidnappers after beating them by taking the knife. I have won the death through struggle.
Pushkar Shah: The moment when I hoisted the flags of 192 nations after scaling Mt Everest was really fascinating for me. I was highly excited thinking that I am taller by a man than the world’s tallest peak. During that moment, I sang the song ‘Resham Firiri’. It’s like Firiri.
You told millions of peoples across the world knew Nepal, Mt Everest and Lumbini due to your interviews. But, did you ever think that your ways to ask for support in every nook and cranny of the world portrayed our state’s ‘begging character’? Or, people developed some negative attitudes to Nepalis due to your ways of seeking?
Pushkar Shah: Seeking support for what? I did not ask money with the people for my mother’s Sari. I never asked support for my personal benefits. This nation is run with billions of donations. As a messenger of the world peace, there was no matter of shame for me to ask for a cup of tea. I don’t know how this disseminates negative messages.
What you felt that how the world is observing we Nepalis? What’s their perception to us?
Pushkar Shah: The Europeans, Americans and other developed countries’ residents have a very good perception to Nepal and Nepalis. Nepalis are respected from those westerners who visited Nepal at least once. Likewise, Nepal is the only country in the world that offers the highest level of respect to the tourists and visitors. So, the people who visited Nepal once never forget us. They want to come here repeatedly. In some other countries, people even don’t know about Nepal and they are oblivious about our presence in the global stage.
What was the response for you from those givers when you sought for their help?
Pushkar Shah: It was awesome. I used to tell them that I am in the world tour for the world peace. I just asked for two squares of meal, albeit people gave me some amount. I needed money sometimes while using planes and ships to reach another continent and during the time of taking visa of another countries.
Can you tell that how much money you collected during your world tour?
Pushkar Shah: I have every tits and bits of the financial support given by the every individual. I collected Rs 17 million. I have the entire details of money collected during the journey. And, I was robbed in many a times and many a places. But, I got victory over death in many incidents. I continued my journey with the principle of ‘I need money but I don’t love money’. I would have earned millions had I just planned for moneymaking. I would have made hefty amount of money just by washing dishes in Japan some 15 years ago if I had so wished. But, I did not.
What is Pushkar Shah in itself?
Pushkar Shah: Pushkar is the sun in itself. And, Pushkar Shah is also the sun.
Would you share something about your past?
Pushkar Shah: I had a dream to become a teacher. But, the teacher Pushkar would have been limited to a routine life of 10 am to 4 pm. The distance between home and school would be the world of Pushkar Shah. But, the Pushkar Shah of the current time is one who rounded the world for five and half times.
During our conversation you sound like a litterateur. But, earlier you told us that your book is not a literary piece. How does this match?
Pushkar Shah: (Laughs) No, no. I have written the book in such a plain way that a high school student can also read and well understand. I did not write the book hoping a big position in the Nepali literary realm. As a lucky man to have visited the world, I wrote 4,000 pages in 11 years and I just attempted to share the bittersweet experiences that I got during my trip. It is the collection of experiences of my trip to share with others who have not visited the world.
I don’t know in which genre this book can be categorized. The litterateurs know this.
You visited more than 150 countries across the globe. Could you share something about the nation found culturally rich?
Pushkar Shah: It is diverse. The diversity in climate, environment, nature, language, foodstuffs, treatment of people and way of living is everywhere even within a country. There are different cultures, religions and their traditions are wonderful. It depends on your priority. But, I saw many culturally affluent societies including in South America, North America and in many Asian countries.
Pushkar Shah: I found the culture guided by the eastern philosophy more civilized. We Nepalis are more civilized. For me Thailand is also an example. But, this is not based on the study. This is what I saw while travelling by cycle.
During his trip to South America, Satabdi Purush (Man of the Century) Satya Mohan Joshi wrote in detail about the living, geography, culture and other aspects of Nicaragua and the entire Latin American society and that gave strong driving force to the literary figures back in Nepal. But, critics in Nepal say that they find nothing such remarkable in your book ‘Sansar Lai Sadhe Pach Fanko’.
Pushkar Shah: Actually, my trip was not intended to focus on such aspects. As a messenger of peace, I travelled through the world to spread a message of peace.
But, the society was expecting something from you.
Pushkar Shah: That could be. The questions would not have been raised, if I had not written the book. This book just shares about completely personal experiences of a cyclist. But, the experiences could be quite dissimilar to the next person.
Then, what is the new thing in your book that we don’t find in Google search?
Pushkar Shah: I have been criticized for writing more about sex. I have written about ‘Communist Sex’ of Beijing. I have written how flesh trade is flourishing in the giant Chinese communist regime. I have also written about ‘sex in credit’ in Cuba. People are engaged in flesh trade in credit hoping to get chance to eat bread in the next day. So, the critics’ comment on my writing about sex is not justifiable. They should understand why the people are practising sex in credit. This indicates the poverty of the societies concerned. This is an overview of politics and culture of t he communist society.
Would you tell me I am wrong if I draw a conclusion that your trip was for sexual adventure?
Pushkar Shah: I am also the product of the society same as yours. Nature has not kept me aloof from sex. But, I have not lied to my readers. The expression on flourishing flesh trade is based on my observation of the countries. So, the readers should take my writing positively instead of interpreting it only on that perspective. My trip was for the peace. There is peace in vagina and intercourse. Peace does not mean only the end of opening fires. Peace is there when there is happiness in vagina. Merely an end of the war is not peace. This is my observation and my perspective.
How you passing days currently?
Pushkar Shah: I reside in my village in Dolakha. I visited most of the parts of the world. I visited New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Paris, Sydney, Auckland, Wellington, Bangkok, Singapore and many others. These cities are no more a dream for me. And, Kathmandu is also not my dream. So, I have started living in my village.
What are your new steps? I mean are you planning to run some movements?
Pushkar Shah: I am exploring the opportunities of cycle tourism along the Great Himalayan Trail—the longest and the highest trail in the world that stretches from Darchula of west to Taplejung in the east. If we succeed, this would be the best trail for cycle tourism in the world. We are also pushing for cycle lane in the capital city. The cyclists have also equal rights as enjoyed by others. We will promote cycling in colleges and universities for reducing petrol use and for healthy life.
What is your message to the young generation that takes you as an ideal figure?
Pushkar Shah: I am an example of ‘everything is possible’. He can travel the world by cycling and can climb Mt Everest. Our younger generation is filled with the perception that nothing can be done without money. But, I say you can do everything if you have a dream, if you can reach the top destination and if you have willpower.