| Faisal Latif. Telegraph picture |
Faisal Latif has done what only a few could even think of. Message of healthy lifestyle on lips, the teenager from Phulwarisharif pedalled all the way from Kashmir to Kanyakumari in flat 37 days.
It is not a mean feat, especially when someone of his age, 18 years, gathers enough courage to start on an expedition of about 4,000km, and all alone.
“Reinhold Messner has been my inspiration. The driving force behind my solo expedition, ‘Himsagar’, was Messner’s indomitable spirit that made him the first man to climb the Mt Everest without oxygen in 1978,” said Faisal soon after he completed his trip on a 21-geared bicycle on January 7.
Faisal, who appeared for his Class XII examination from DAV Public School Walmi Complex, said his journey was quite tough but he enjoyed every bit of it.
“I met hundreds of schoolchildren in the last few weeks. I told them about bad habits like smoking, which can kill anyone. At the same time, I focused on raising awareness about healthy lifestyle,” said Faisal, who aspires to be an army officer and an explorer.
The youth found his family and teachers to encourage him to pursue his dreams. “I always supported him since the day he landed up as a trainee at Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling, when he was just 16,” said his father Shahid Parvez, a railway employee. “Financially, I could not support him for his ‘Himsagar’ trip,” he added.
Faisal said he managed sponsorship from Millennium Public School in Hisar, Haryana, and Firefox Bikes, which also gave him the bicycle.
While in St Dominic Savio’s High School, Faisal excelled in extra-curricular activities. “He was different from the rest of the lot,” said Monica Menon, his English teacher till Class X, who has been a source of inspiration for Faisal.
What next? “I want to do a Delhi-Islamabad peace expedition on cycle and climb the K2, world’s second highest peak in Pakistan, to spread the message of brotherhood and friendship,” he said.