On Friday night, I met a guy called Vladimir Yarets. He was standing next to a motorbike when I saw him, with a widespread display of pictures on the ground. These were pictures from around the world, from Yarets’ journey which started in May 2000 in his hometown in Russia. For 8 years, he has been traveling everywhere he can go, on his motorbike. He’s done all of Europe, Australia and parts of Asia so far, more than 40 countries in all.
Unlike most globetrotters, Yarets is deaf and mute.
At sixty-something (I guess), he wasn’t at all disappointing for a man living out his dream, everyday. He looked excited as lots of people stopped by to look at his display and dropped money into his helmet. There was this look about him which I can’t seem to put down in words. It was somewhat a mixture of pride, enthusiasm, tranquility, even happiness. It’s not everyday that you meet someone so daring, so brave and so inspiring. It makes you evaluate your own dreams, your own life and the distance between the two.
He funds his travels with the donations of people and hopes to make it to the Guinness World Records someday. He stopped on the walkway near Peace Centre on his Singapore leg, which is where I met him Malaysia is next on his list. In my lame attempt in sign language, I tried to tell him he was doing great! I guess he knows that by now. His world map highlighted the places he has seen, yet. I pointed to India on it and he retorted with a ‘Oh nice! That makes us neighbors!’ sign. His smile was reassuring in some way, as though telling me not to have sympathy for his disabilities, but to be proud of his achievement. I am. He was the sort of guy I had hoped to meet when I was stepping out of my home into this big, big world. I know the five minutes I spent looking at his display are short to say that, but seldom has meeting someone new made me think about such a lot of things, about the endless possibilities in our lives.