Miran Hussain
Miran Hussain

LAHORE: Miran Hussain at the age of just 20 has walked across 12 countries of Europe and Asia to reach Pakistan, the native country of his father Hussain Abid.

He started his journey from his home in Freiburg in south west of Germany on June 11, 2018 and reached Pakistan on July 23 last. It took him 13 months to complete his trekking adventure during which he never took a bus or any ride except about 290km of Iran region touching Pakistan where the Iranian police did not allow him to walk alone, citing security reasons.

“I walked through Germany, Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and Iran to reach Pakistani border with Iran,” Miran says during a tete-a-tete with Dawn here in Lahore. In the first five countries, he was accompanied by his elder brother, Elia Hussain. He was alone from the capital of Croatia till Pakistan border.

About the inspiration for his adventure, he says he wanted to have the first-hand experience. “I wanted to see the changes in cultures and regions and discover how faces of people change as well as other things like music.”

When asked why he decided to walk and not take any vehicle or transport, he says there is no other way you can know people and cultures. “I wanted to be in the speed of nature and did not want to get passed the speed of nature in some vehicle.”

Miran says he always wanted to make this journey to Pakistan, the native country of his father, Hussain Abid, but he was not allowed to do that by his parents until he was old enough or finished school. He wanted to make this journey either on bicycle or on foot but never on some vehicle etc.

Hussain Abid is an Urdu poet with three poetry collections to his credit. He is settled in Germany along his German wife. The last time Miran came to Pakistan was as a two-year old child.

Miran’s journey was not at all that easy or smooth sailing for him as he faced challenges on the way. One of the challenges that he faced was in Turkey where he developed blisters and could not walk for a month. There he also had knee pain issue and he could not walk for two months more. A doctor told him that he might have to undergo knee surgery which was a shock for him. But he had physiotherapy sessions and after a wait for more months he got well enough to restart his journey.

Another challenging situation that he came across was in Dasht-i-Kavir desert of Kerman region of Iran. He had three days walk through the desert and he covered 50 miles per day without any shade. It was the month June and peak of summer. “I had water with me which increased the weight of my luggage and I could not drink water I had with me because it used to get hot during the heat of the day. It was 50 degrees Celsius. Most of the people were not giving me water too. There were some who did give.”

He considers it the hardest part of the adventure and his parents kept asking him to quit the journey and return home.

Miran faced some issues in Europe too where authorities were not willing to trust him despite having complete documents. “They thought I was Syrian or Arab refugee due to my looks.”

He had a robbery incident in Turkey in the suburbs of Istanbul. A robber took away his money in Armenia. He faced wolves also in Armenia one night which left him really afraid.

Despite having issues and challenges, he made a lot friends too in many countries, especially in Turkey where he learnt Turkish language and music. He says most of the people were still good but has a different opinion about authorities like police.

Miran was 19 when he started his journey. He faced sexual harassment in Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia and Iran where men made sexual attempts on him and he had ward them off.

Regarding the attitude of people towards him, he says he faced all different kinds of attitude, sometimes discrimination, sometimes love and sometimes welcoming behaviour. “The biggest hospitality he had was in Tabriz in Iran.” He says there are all kinds of people in each country, good as well as bad.

When he started his adventure, Miran used to walk 25km a day and when he ended in Iran he was covering 50km per day.

His biggest disappointment was that he was not allowed to walk after he crossed the Pakistan border, his destination. He wanted to walk to Lahore but Pakistan’s military told him that he could not be allowed to walk due to security reasons and it was not safe for him to walk alone in Balochistan.

Except the 290km in Iran until the border of Pakistan and then in Pakistan where he was not allowed to walk, Miran walked every step on his own during his whole journey.

Miran has a passion for music and travel. He says that the experience was fulfilling despite challenges. He is looking forward to walk through African continents at some point of time in life.

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2019