Viktor Zichó departed 10 months ago, and he would like to follow in the footsteps of the famous Hungarian orientalist and philologist, Sándor Kőrösi Csoma. Therefore, he is cycling from Hungary to India, a trip which Kőrösi Csoma did on foot at the beginning of the 19th century.
Of course, Mr Zichó expected that his journey would not be easy, but he never thought that he would have to spend 7 weeks in an Indian hospital because of the coronavirus epidemic. What is more, he spent one month in a Pakistani prison. However, he is not giving up, and he wants to finish the journey, of which he has some hundreds of kilometres ahead, Index reported. For example, this is how he trains even in the hospital to remain in shape:
Mr Zicho arrived in India on February 8 from Pakistan and spent one month there without any problems. The difficulties started in Delhi where people started to think that
the virus is taken in by the Europeans.
This is why, for example, locals threw mud balls at him at one time. On March 24, strict regulations were implemented in India to stop the spread of the virus; however, he could continue his journey even after that. It was more and more difficult for him to buy food, though, or charge his phone in a petrol station. Wherever he appeared, locals swarmed around him, but the police did not do anything but let him continue his trip.
This changed when he entered Bihar state where he was told to go to a local hospital in Chapra to be tested. There they told him that he could not leave the institution, and if he escaped, he could even get a prison sentence.
The Hungarian embassy offered him a plane ticket getting him out from the country, but he refused to accept because he believes that
what he is doing is a mission.
“I took some red-white-green ribbons in Csomakőrös (the birthplace of Sándor Kőrösi Csoma – the editor), and I have to bring them to Darjeeling, to the grave of Sándor Kőrösi Csoma. I will not leave six days before my goal,” he said.
In the hospital, he was placed in an isolation room, so he could not even leave the building for two weeks. However, one night a thief got in and took his phone, laptop, and trousers in which he kept his money and his passport. He made a huge song and dance about it, and thanks to that the police found the perpetrator and got everything back, except for his passport which was burnt with his trousers. As a result, he became a local celebrity; newspapers wrote about him and his mission, but they
misspelt both his name and his country.
Afterwards, he remained alone in his hospital room and was allowed to take trips in the yard where all the garbage is thrown out and where dogs and boars regularly try to find some food to eat.
He says that they sometimes miss water or electricity, but the internet network is surprisingly good. People are kind, helpful, and bring him local delicacies. He thinks that
local people are bearing the restrictions well.
In contrast, he would like to continue his journey ASAP since he has “only” 520 kilometres to Darjeeling.
He decided to follow in the footsteps of Sándor Kőrösi Csoma in 2014 with two of his friends, but they later changed their mind, so he remained the only one. He started out in 2019 from Transylvania and tried to follow the route of Kőrösi Csoma, but he sometimes had to modify it because of security reasons. He crossed the Pakistani border illegally, but local police did not mind. Indian authorities were not so permissive and wanted to put him on a plane home. The Hungarian embassy then helped him and stated that what he was doing was a mission.
He spent 28 days at the international department of a Pakistani prison where the meal was better than in the Indian hospital since, in the latter, there is only a vegetarian menu.
He has already completed 12,942 kilometres, mostly from his own money. He says that people in Pakistan and Iran are very kind, and many of them invited him to spend the night in their homes instead of his tent. BBC Persia even interviewed him, after which many locals recognised him and wanted to help.