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A life less ordinary: Jason Walsh (MBBCh 2013)

A man standing at the shore holding a bike over his head.

My friend Rich and I were trying to think of something challenging to do during our final summer at medical school,” says Jason, “and he came up with the idea to cycle the entire length of India.”

Not a normal summertime conversation to have you might think, but then Jason’s friend Rich speaks Hindi, and had also been to India a few times, so knew what to expect.

“The roads are well known for being poor quality and the traffic is awful, however most of the country is relatively flat. We gave  ourselves five weeks to cycle the 4,000 kilometres from north to south, and considering it takes people about two weeks to cycle the 1,500 kilometres from John O’Groats to Land’s End, we thought we were estimating about right. Plus, it sounded like a ridiculous task and would definitely be a challenge.”

Jason and Rich also decided they’d raise money along the way, and chose the international health charity Merlin, for whom they eventually raised over £3,000. Starting at Atari in the Punjab, on the northern border with Pakistan, the intrepid cyclists were aiming for the most southern point in India, in Kanyakamari.

However, things didn’t go completely to plan, as Richard developed an abscess after 1,000 kilometres and had to have an operation in Indore before fl ying back to Wales. Jason faced further problems when he was arrested while travelling through a small town in Maharastra.

“It’s rare for tourists to visit the town, and the hotel manager seemed a bit suspicious of the passport stamps I had from Middle Eastern countries. He called the police, who escorted me to the police station, before, fairly comically, interrogating me. The chief of police then apologised, saying there were suspicions I was an Islamic terrorist, he then invited me to his house for dinner.”

Next for Jason will be a year working at the American University of Beirut Hospital as a fellow in cardiology… the adventure continues!