November 23, 2023
PHNOM PENH – Embarking on a unique quest across 12 countries, an Indian family of three, Dinamani Jayakumar, Ajitha C S, and their daughter Lakshmidhuta, is spreading a message of peace and unity.
Motivated by the belief that “the world is one family,” their journey, inspired by ancient Indian philosophy and a spiritual pilgrimage called ‘deshadan,’ commenced in April without a fixed destination.
“We’ve decided to keep going as long as we live. Our world is that huge,” emphasises Jayakumar, highlighting the trio’s dedication to exploring the vastness of the world and the universe.
Opting to travel by car has enabled them to explore lesser-known places, fostering profound connections with diverse cultures.
Amid their adventures, a medical emergency in Malaysia led to an unexpected act of kindness from Daryl, a Chinese-Malaysian man they only knew through text messages.
“Given the urgency of the situation, we sought his assistance. Despite his residence being an hour’s drive away, he promptly extended his support,” recounts Jayakumar.
“As it unfolded on a national holiday, my entire staff was absent, leaving no one to retrieve their car. In the absence of alternatives, I said I would personally come over with my wife and son,” Daryl says.
He safeguarded their car, displaying an act of kindness that transcended cultural differences, establishing him as “family” to them.
Faith amidst crisis
However, their journey encountered challenges in Bangladesh, where they faced difficulties with car clearance and found themselves stranded without a familiar language or any friends on whom to rely.
“The situation escalated when they detained our car. We can’t return home without it, and overstaying our visa wasn’t an option,” explains Jayakumar.
“We were treated as if we were illegally smuggling a vehicle into the country, even though that wasn’t the case,” he says.
However, local customs officers and a high-ranking officer in Dhaka came to their rescue, reinforcing their belief in the inherent goodness of people.
Jayakumar emphasises that, during crises, it hasn’t been fellow Indians or acquaintances who aided them. Instead, strangers from diverse backgrounds and beliefs, united by faith in humanity, stepped forward to assist.
Six weeks ago, another challenge arose when Jayakumar needed medical attention in Malaysia. Despite the risks, they chose to continue, guided by their faith in an unseen force.
In each country, they hold sessions to inspire unity and peace, with a focus on youth and those grappling with personal loss.
Their travels align with the 75th year of India’s independence, adding a theme of freedom to their message.
“We engage with young people, holding small sessions emphasising the significance of unity. When encountering individuals facing distress or personal loss, we take the time to converse with them, inspiring them to love themselves again. In locations where direct interaction isn’t feasible, we utilise media to connect with people,” Jayakumar explains.
They’ve had enriching experiences, from meeting members of an ancient tribe in India to sharing mangoes with a Nepalese restaurant owner.
“In our travels, we encountered the last surviving Toto tribe in India, whose ancestors journeyed from Mongolia 800 years ago. We listened to their stories, learned about their dreams, and saw remnants of souvenirs dating back eight centuries from a distant land,” he tells The Post.
Their story attests to the power of faith, human connection and the enduring belief that, despite differences, we are all part of one global family.
Jayakumar says that living on the road brings a unique kind of happiness—every day is distinct with different lands, people, cultures and food, yet deep down, all are the same.
“We could describe it as a perpetual bliss. For physical wellbeing and budget reasons, we cook our meals whenever possible, enjoying local cuisine and occasionally skipping a meal for fruits,” he says.
Jayakumar reveals the family is crafting a book to be titled “Mahavadhutam”.
This book will delve into the lives of 21 Avadhutas, enlightened beings across diverse timelines globally. The experiences amassed during their own journey contribute to this spiritually uplifting work, distinct from commercial ventures.
Despite initial plans to return home in three months, Jayakumar shares their decision to continue their journey as long as they live.
In Cambodia, their ninth country, a visit to the genocide museum in Phnom Penh left a profound impact, intensifying their dedication to peace promotion.
Jayakumar recalls deep shock and distress from the encountered horrors, hindering them from completing the circuit. Making a personal commitment, they vow to advocate for peace, acknowledging its significance in uncertain times. Their resolution involves using any available means to create a positive impact on the world.
“While leaving, we unexpectedly encountered Sum Rithy, a genocide survivor who authored a book recounting his experiences, conveying a message of hope against all odds,” he says.
The trio also discovered numerous sculptures of Indian deities at the national museum, linking us to a shared past. These shared elements are profoundly enriching.
Jayakumar reveals that their journey has been brimming with heart warming experiences. They deliberately selected the Koh Kong border for entry into Cambodia, drawn to the charm of the countryside.
“We crossed into Cambodia via the Koh Kong border five days ago, heading to Phnom Penh. Our route includes driving towards Vietnam, with plans to return for Siem Reap,” Jayakumar tells The Post.
As they journeyed towards the capital city, the landscape underwent a remarkable transformation, and they relished engaging with locals using sign language and gestures, indulging in the taste of giant coconuts along the way.
Reflecting on their time at Tatai, nestled between a forest and a river, Jayakumar describes the enchanting night sky illuminated by fireflies and stars. However, their night brought a surprise: their room was shared with lizards, akin in size to chameleons.
Almost casually, he notes that this wasn’t their first encounter with wildlife, having previously crossed paths with wild elephants.
Sustaining both physical and mental well-being on the road, the family cherishes the pleasures of cooking, enjoying local cuisines and indulging in regional produce.