Human drive is an amazing fuel. It is always energizing to see a person pushing the limits and doing something just because he or she feels so strongly about it. Kamal Haz is one such man. “Every time I save some around INR 50,000, a thought arises in me. What can I do with this?” says Kamal. This time around, he is cycling around the 32 districts in Tamil Nadu. As of 24th May, 2015, Kamal had completed 28 districts- a mindboggling 2400kms in 20 days. That is about 120 km every day. Considering the average cycling speed of 15 km per hour, the calculation comes out to be about 8 hours of cycling every day. And considering the month of May in Tamil Nadu, one can imagine the will required to pull off something like this.
Kamal has been planning the feat from a while and has its roots in his one man startup- OMR Pedal Messengers. This service was started to fill the void for bike messenger service in Chennai. The service started from Chennai's IT hub OMR, between Thrivanmiur to Siruseri. “I started it out alone, took the calls, cycled all the way to pick up and deliver documents, pen drives and stuff. The USP of OMR Pedal messengers is delivery within 1 hour,” says Kamal. Three months later, Kamal understood that it was not sustainable and he had to pivot to a new business model and which was around mobile billboard advertising. It worked out for a while but being the only person to manage all activities of the company, it drained him completely. Especially because he was doing all this while he had his day job as a content writer at What's on!
“I used to cycle 60 kms to 100 kms a day for this journey despite my day job. Other than this, I cycled 10,000 kms across Chennai in 2014.That craving for exploration got strong rooted while I started using Quora and reading the articles of YourStory,” says Kamal (and we’re glad that we can bring about such change!).
This journey has no particular aim. “I started this journey on May3, 2015 from Velachery, Chennai. The journey will be completed on 27th May, 2015. No one has done this. Once I complete this journey, I will be the first Indian to complete cycling to all districts of an Indian state. In this case, It's 32 districts of Tamil Nadu.” As Kamal highlights, an interesting part of this journey is not just cycling along the National Highways, it's cycling through the heart of villages, making sense of the local dialects and the food. “Being a filmmaker at heart, a travel documentary is being made too,” he says.
Kamal reluctantly calls himself a cube dweller but undertakes such journeys to break free. “I was inspired and motivated by people like Gaurav Siddharth, Kartik Verma and Mark Beaumont who rode their cycles far beyond an average human's boundary. The other part is my inner search for what I am underneath.” And as Kamal puts it, this is just the beginning for him. He has his eyes set on cycling from Kanyakumari to Rann of Kuchh to Srinagar to Aizwal to Hyderabad to Chennai. And he is confident about it. “It will happen. I wanted to prove that I can do this. So, I took this up,” he says.
Kamal is proud of his native state and says that people cycle cross country or world but hardly anyone goes around their own state. He also wants to prove that Tamil Nadu has all kinds of terrain and offbeat places that one can go to. “From my childhood, I always wanted to do things that others abstain from. So, I chose Visual communication at Loyola college and started my career. The drive has been always to do combine travel and Filmmaking. It is happening,” he says.
In a way, this journey is a step that wants to change a lot. “I aspire to bring about a lot of changes. In terms of innovation. In terms of changing the rugged mindset of people. Having my own start-up. My first pan Indian film. Chart unchartered territories,” says Kamal. His journey across Tamil Nadu ends today and on completion, he plans to rest for a few days before starting another company. And he has a bunch of ideas- maybe a video content marketing company to map Indian cities or a QR code based advertising company or a product targeting diabetics. These ideas might be very different from each other and they might fail as well but Kamal’s drive is commendable. Talking of the immediate future, he says, “I am planning to release this travel documentary at the earliest. I do not have that all necessary money but I have that guts and support of my friends and family.”
Follow Kamal on Facebook here.