Five years ago two young Hindu men set out to see the world, "to obtain a philosphical view" by bicycling through 117 countries. They're in Washington now, about halfway through the odyssey.
They're also without bikes. Their 10-speeds were stolen a couple of weeks ago as they slept in a shelter outside Disney World in Florida. But Subash, Panchi, 26, and Subash Azad, 27, have learned to take that sort of mishap with a philosophical view. They've been beaten and robbed in both Bombay and Turkey, had their passports stoeln in Paris ("the police had them back to us in half an hour"), twice had to sleep in trees in jungles, endured deserts and snowstorms.
And they've had to replace bikes, too. Their first pair gave in during their two-year tour within India. Later they switched to a gift set from an Austrian manufacturer and the pair just stolen were gifts of a French manufacturer.
"We have had problems," Azad said, philosophically, "but we were thinking it could never happen in America, it's such a rich country. We suppose if mischievous boys want something, they'll take it."
hey set out hitchhiking from Florida to Washington to try and get help through the Indian Embassay, "but no one would give us a ride, so we took the bus," Panchi said.
They plan to stay in Washington until the weekend, trying to round up bikes, then "we have to start to Philadelphia, by foot if we cannot get now bicycles."
Then it's on the New York, where they've been warned, traffic is terrible. But they've handled that.
"Paris and Iran are the worst places," Panchi said. "Turkey was the worst country, There, if you do not have cigarattes the small boys throw stones at you."
After New York, their schedule is across Canada, dipping south to the American Midwest, ultimately winding up in Vancouver.
"Every country has something of its own that's different," Panchi said. "Switerland was nice with its natural scenery and cleanliness. Paris was the nicest city.
"Holland was nice for cycling. The have roads just for cycling beside the ocean . . ."
"But we liked Florida," Azad said, "We liked the weather and the beaches." Philosophically speaking, of course.