Muscat: Globetrotter Somen Debnath, currently, on a ride of his life, lost his passport on way to Dubai from Muscat.
Thanks to Facebook, his global trip in back on track after the missing passport was located in Dubai. "I was very scared that my journey will come to an end. But God comes to my rescue every time I face difficulties. He is with me and inside everyone in this world with a touch of humanity," he said.
In September 2013, the Times of Oman had reported that this 30-year-old from a remote village in India, called Basanti in South 24 Parganas district in West Bengal, is aiming to cover the world on his bicycle.
The ambitious journey covering 191 countries and 200,000 kilometres is aimed at spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS and showcasing the Indian culture all over the world.
Debnath started from Basanti on May 27, 2004 and has already peddled his way across 81 countries. Currently, he is in Dubai and so far covered close to 100,000 km.
However, his ambitious trip came under a cloud as he lost his passport while on way to Dubai from Oman. Worse, he didn't even have a clue as to where he had lost it. "I checked all the places before lodging a police complaint. And they immediately blocked my passport so that nobody can use it for travel. Then I approached the Indian consulate general's office which told me that if the passport is not located, then I will have to go back to India, cutting short my journey," he recalled.
Fortunately, he got a message on Facebook from one Mujtaba Abbas Hussainy.
"Hussainy sent me a message that he has found my passport on the main highway in Dubai. He even sent his number in the mail. When I called him, he asked me to come near Al Basra and gave the passport back to me," he recalled.
Hussainy had found a small red bag lying on the main road after he shut his shop around midnight. "They opened the bag and saw the passport and a USB. Then he went home to locate me on the Internet, found my Facebook account and wrote a message. That was a big moment for me," he said.
With all his plans back in place once again, Debnath is now awaiting the arrival of an upgraded cycle from Germany before scooting off to Africa on the next leg of his journey.
Before travelling to Dubai from Muscat. Three of his cycles were stolen in Bulgaria, Poland and Germany.
"Though I peddle alone, I never feel lonely as I make friends with so many people on the road. They come up to me, talk to me, invite me to their homes and try to learn various things and issues from me while I, too, learn a lot from them," he said smilingly. "At times, it is very hot and road conditions are quite bad. My cycle tyres have burst a couple of times and yet my journey goes on despite all these troubles," he added.
Debnath started his journey right after earning a bachelor's degree in Zoology from the University of Calcutta in 2004. "I will be giving 16 years of my life to the world. My main aim is to share the happiness," added Debnath.
An article "AIDS is Deadlier than Cancer" inspired him to embark on this voyage. "The article was about a homeless person lying in front of the Medical College of Calcutta and left to die alone. It left a huge impact on me and I started asking my teachers at school about AIDS/HIV, but they could not give me any answers at all. As a consequence, two years later, I decided to get speciality training at the West Bengal State AIDS Control Society (WBSACS) and began an awareness campaign about the deadly disease," he added.
"I started educating my own teachers about AIDS and the social stigma attached with it besides the lack of knowledge about this deadly yet preventable disease. My mission spread first to the people from my own village, then my country and now it is a global campaign," he said.
He added that through his bicycle tour around the world, he is attempting to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS through lectures.
"My strategy is to educate people from different parts of the society by raising awareness among students at schools, colleges and universities, encourage these institutions to start a chapter on HIV/AIDS awareness programme, and also promote the use of disposable needles and syringes among drug-addicted people. My aim is also to bring awareness among the youth and encourage non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in various countries," he said.
He hoped to use the proceeds from his trip to finance a project he calls "Global Village" to be set up at his birthplace, the Sunderbans, which will advocate people to revert to a simpler way of life.
The untiring cyclist said he plans to build 25 houses on 20 acres of land in a remote part of his native area where inhabitants would adopt the motto of "simple living but high thinking" as a way of life.