The man who cycled to Pakistan because his heart told him to do so

Published: January 30, 2013
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Florian has painted the colours of passion and passed on the beauty of imagination. PHOTO: RABIA RAZZAQUE

Florian, a 26-year-old German cyclist stayed at my house before he left for his expedition around Islamabad. In the few hours he spent here, he was able to inspire me with his will to be free; through his life’s story, he gave me an alternate way to look at my own life.

 “I left my job to pursue something that keeps me happy,” he said simply.

This made me look back at my life and made me question the purpose of my existence.

I thought to myself, why am I so satisfied within my comfort zone?

Why do I need to have a plan for the next day?

Why does uncertainty threaten me?

Isn’t life about taking chances?

Aren’t we meant to take each day as it comes? Carpe diem?

 “They tell me you guys eat roti (bread) and yogurt for breakfast” Florian interrupted my thoughts.

I started making an omelette and toasting a couple of slices of bread for him.

“Yes, in rural settings, this is especially true, but in cities you will get an English breakfast too!”

A few minutes later we sat down and he started telling me his tale.

Seven months ago, Florian started his trip from Germany, traveled through Europe and entered Iran.

“It has been an interesting few weeks, during which I’ve scarcely had chance to draw breath, despite spending precious little time on my bicycle.

Southern Iran proved to have one omnipresent feature which enchanted me at first, but soon began to lose its appeal: sand. In southern Iran I saw sand dunes and camels.

My tent would collapse in the night; sand doing little to secure tent-pegs against the strong desert winds. I discovered that dragging my fully laden bike through deep, soft sand in search of a camping spot out of sight of the road, is far more difficult than riding up even the steepest of hills, or into the strongest of headwinds.

As I passed into Pakistan and into the Indian Sub-Continent, I was disappointed to see the desert continue.

I was not as disappointed by this, though, as I was by the news, upon entering Pakistan through Balochistan, that I would not be able to ride my bike at all, due to the instability of the security situation. As tempting as it was to tweak the nose of fear, drop an ice cube down the vest of danger and international terrorism, and high-tail it into the desert on my bike regardless of such warnings, the reality was that I simply was not allowed.

So the police ordered me to take a bus. I took the bus and got to Quetta, from where I started my journey to east.

I learnt much of Pakistani culture and way of life, whilst watching the scenery slowly grow lush and green through my journey, as I entered Punjab. I saw the historic Lahore and took off for Sawan Gardens where I stayed an entire day and relaxed.

In the morning I left for Islamabad, I was not sure where I was going to stay until I found you on Couch Surfing and here I am!” shared Florian.

I literally jumped and sunk back into my sofa, eager to find out more about his life. It was interesting to note that he is two years younger than me and has already explored so much!

“This is so fascinating. You are so full of life! I would have to think about a million other things before I could take a plunge to do something so spontaneous. This is your first time in Pakistan, it amazes me!” I exclaimed, gazing at his relaxed face.

He then stated:

“You should also just do what your heart tells you to; I learnt Farsi to cruise through Iran smoothly. I stayed there for five weeks. My passion is the drive that keeps me going. I cannot abandon cycling and even though it is not the easiest task to go around the world, I can still spend all my money and all my assets to do what I really enjoy doing. I will start teaching once I exhaust all my money or find a job till I save myself enough for another trip to another wonderland!”

Florian is all set for his final destination, India, however, he is very pleased with his stay in Pakistan. He stated that he would miss the hospitality, the cow dung, the half-naked children, and the simple people he has met here.

Although Florian has not taken anything to remember us by, but has left so much behind. Just like the meaning of his name, he has spread the fragrance of determination; he has painted the colours of passion and passed on the beauty of imagination.

Thank you for inspiring me Florian; from today, I vow to take out a little time to do as my heart dictates.

Read more by Rabia here or Follow her on Twitter @Rabia_Razzaque

Rabia Razzaque

Rabia Razzaque

A human rights activist and an advocate of youth empowerment and youth engagement in dialogue for social change. A graduate of Business Administration with specialization in marketing and fond of swimming, reading and researching. She tweets as @Rabia_Razzaque (twitter.com/Rabia_Razzaque)

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