If you draw a horizontal line on the world map at the 30.963280° latitude, somewhere this line is going to cross my hometown Layyah in Pakistan. During my bicycle trip from Argentina to Alaska bicycle tour, I crossed this latitude near San Felipe in Baja California, Mexico in January 2018 and thus, was in perfect geographical alignment with Layyah.
I wanted to place a signpost at this imaginary line across the globe.
In San Felipe, I went to a local carpenter and showed him some pictures of the signposts on Google and gave him rough dimensions. In less than thirty minutes, the signpost was ready. The shop owner gave me paint and brushes which I used to write on the signpost. After that, I picked up the signpost and rode nine kilometres to the spot I had scouted the day before. I felt all eyes were on me when I was cycling through San Felipe with the signpost on my shoulder. I must have looked like Jesus carrying a big cross on a bicycle!
From the main road, I pushed the bicycle through deep sand and then separately carried the bicycle and the signpost to where I had a clear view of the Sea of Cortez until the horizon. I dug a hole in the ground, placed the bottom part of the signpost and filled it with the sand.
From where I sat, Layyah was some 13,102 km away. How many seas, mountains, deserts, cities, rivers, forests separated us, but when I closed my eyes for a second, I found myself at the doorstep of my home, with my mom waiting outside. But, I knew that there was no mom, and our house, which dad named as Pakistani House, was almost abandoned too. No one truly awaited me in Layyah, except the graves of my parents.
All these thoughts, and yet I remembered Layyah. Why? Maybe, our origin is an essential part of our identity. It makes us who we are. If we don’t know where we came from, we wouldn’t have an idea of where we will be going. Astronomers look for clues for the origin of cosmos in the sky, and we, the cyclists, although we are exploring other places, essentially, it is a quest within. We all want to know what is out there and how we fit into the grand scheme of the universe.
Dad always used to say, “my son, whatever you become, wherever you go, don’t forget your roots!” This signpost is a testimony for dad that I haven’t forgotten any of his lessons.