Have you ever been in a tuk tuk before? Probably millions of them zipping around in countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
What about a solar-powered tuk tuk? I guess not.
Last week I shared a cup of tea with an Indian engineer who built a solar-powered tuk tuk.
But not only that.
Naveen Ravelli travelled in a self-built solar-powered tuk tuk from Hyderabad in India to London, England!
Before meeting Naveen, I dutifully Googled him and found this interview on the BBC.
But, Naveen didn’t want to cruise around the world in a solar-powered tuk tuk just for the engineering challenge.
Naveen is passionate about making the world a better place – environmentally, socially, and economically.
He’s supporting his friends to develop ProtoVillage – a village in which energy is harnessed and used by the same people, a village which is self-sustaining by growing their own food and one that’s built by the village for the village.
The village is already up and running with 12 families living there.
He wants to make the world more sustainable. Using solar rather than just oil is one step in that journey.
So, being an engineer, he built a solar-powered tuk tuk!
It’s not as easy as it sounds. They had to connect up loads of lithium ion batteries to a bunch of electronics and an electric motor. The tuk tuk even has GPS integrated over the internet, so his mum could keep track of his progress!
But amazingly, Naveen’s tuk tuk didn’t break down once on his travels.
From India to Buckingham Palace
He went from Hyderabad in India, to Mumbai in India, then by boat across to Iran, then Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Austria, Germany, France and finally to London, UK.
In this picture I took, he holds up a sheet of paper with a list of all the people that have supported him in different ways in his travels – from accommodation to donations.
I asked Naveen, ‘How did you find the courage to travel so far with no fixed amount of money or place to stay?’
He replied: ‘It didn’t take courage. I knew I’d be fine. Many people have travelled the silk route in ancient times. If they could do it, surely I could do it’.
His sense of confidence seemed completely natural to him. There was no strain.
I asked Naveen when he first began to ‘trust the universe’ and live in a pay-it-forward manner.
Naveen said it started when he was 16 years old. Someone provided a meal to him. He asked how much it cost, and they said ‘Don’t worry about it…just pass on the kindness to someone else’.
He’s had the positive, pay-it-forward attitude ever since.
Arnie Supported Him!
Naveen Ravelli is now 35 years old. He’s been travelling for the last 8 months in his Tuk Tuk.
He’s ended up naturally attracted much publicity, without seeking it at all.
He was featured in the New York Times too! Arnold Schwarzenegger spotted it while on a flight and retweet the message, as can be seen below.
This is a fantastic article about how we can use technology to protect the environment: http://t.co/qdzyws0a69
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) August 15, 2014
This tweet helped him raise $4500 when he did a crowdfunder, which he used to fund his journey. But as the battery for his tuk tuk cost him thousands of dollars alone, so I would guess the money didn’t last for very long and he had to make money as he travelled too. He did this by mainly buying and selling locally grown produce in markets as he travelled.
I felt so happy to have met him, I travelled with him on the London Underground all the way to his next meeting, just so I could keep asking more questions!
His humility, his desire to make the world a better place and his trust that other people will help him out were all inspiring.
I think having a ‘why’ is such an important factor in being happy and sharing happiness with the world. Naveen certainly has meaning in his life!
Without Meditation, I’d be an Alcoholic!
I finished by asking him if he had a meditation practice.
‘Oh definitely!’, he said.
I went on to enquire how he meditated.
‘I just let go, let my mind be and relax’, he replied.
‘And why do you meditate? What would happen if you didn’t meditate everyday?’
Naveen instantly replied. ‘Oh, I’d be an alcoholic by now! That’s for sure. Meditation gives me that inner peace I need. I’m so busy with all the different projects I’m involved in. Without that inner space, i wouldn’t have the clarity of thought I need to do what I do.’
Discontent doesn’t drive creativity – contentment does
I also ask Naveen about happiness.
‘I haven’t really thought about happiness or whether I’m happy or not’
But thinking further he says: ‘For me, happiness is contentment.’
‘Some people say that to do good in the world, you need to be discontent. but I don’t think so. Discontent leads to frustration in the mind.’ Naveen explained with increasing passion.
‘With a frustrated mind, you can’t think clearly and you don’t have space for new ideas about how to make the world a better place. If you start with a sense of contentment, your mind is at peace and you can best help other.’
I loved his way of thinking.
Naveen is a such a beautiful example of someone who’s both transforming himself and transforming the world. I look forward to seeing him meet Nipun Mehta, who also lives this philosophy so beautifully.
You too can meet Naveen and Nipun at our next conference on 5th Nov in London! Naveen will be sharing a little of his story there. And if you can’t make the event, register your email on our website, and you’ll be able to watch the experience on live stream as our gift to you. Alternatively just visit our website on the 5th Nov for a live stream link to the event in London. But if you can be there in person, you’ll love it and be supporting a good cause.