Toofan Singh Khalsa, 44, left home in Amritsar eight years ago with no money, clothes or food, to travel the country on a bicycle. All he was carrying was the burden of a disability. Today, he has covered 60,000 km, visiting gurudwaras to thank god for saving his life in an accident that robbed him of his left leg.
Toofan Singh Khalsa photographed at the base of JJ Flyover. He is in Mumbai to visit the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara, in Andheri. Pic/ Bipin Kokate
Singh was 35 when he lost his leg in a road accident. He was behind the wheel of a truck and driving through Punjab. "It took me over a year to recover. But, I haven't looked back since. I follow the road that god shows me," he says, giving his left leg fitted with a prosthetic limb some rest.
Singh hasn't spoken to his family since he set out and is uncomfortable talking about them. Once employed as a truck driver, he has been touring the country on a "special cycle" that holds a suitcase of clothes at the back, a tiffin box carrier in the front and a bunch of colourful parandeh decorating a pole attached to the handlebar, much like the ones you see on trucks mirrors.
The cycle he rides had to be customised to prevent another accident from occurring. "I realised that it's difficult for others to spot the cycle at night, especially on highways. So, I fitted huge lights at the rear of the cycle to alert trucks and other heavy goods carriers. The large rear view mirror attached to a pole in the front helps me stay aware of traffic behind me," Singh, who arrived in Mumbai from Pune last night, says he doesn't carry a map. "I don't set out with a plan and neither do a follow a map. God has given me a second chance at life, he will chart the plan for me. Those I encounter at gurudwaras are my guides. In Pune, I was told about the Andheri gurudwara, so here I am. I hope to visit as many gurudwaras in Mumbai as I can," he said.
Pointing to the suitcase, Singh said, "I didn't set out from home with this bag. It's proof that god has helped me along the way. Every time I halt at a gurudwara, someone or the other offers me food and clothes. I get to rest a bit, but then set out for my next destination." Where's that, we asked? "I don't know yet."
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