Purola looking back

5 days after leaving Purola 2 guys just now stop beside me. They have seen my posts of the clean-up at the river side in Purola. They stopped to thank me.

Anyway they liked it a lot and promise to start or join a local Clean-up group.

Let them be blessed to have lots of guts and heart power to do so. 

These days

Little before Naugaon I meet Aman. He invites me to his house. Aman is just 17 and convinced easily his mother Sapna, 35. The whole family is so nice, welcoming and support each other. Little after my arrival I get invited to stay up to five days. Even though Sapna is leaving the house for Diwali to see her relatives, I am welcome. I agree to stay for one more day.
Aman has prepared everything for a day journey on his scooter. After 1 1/2h drive we reach a spectacular view out in the nowhere on a 2.000+ meter pass. Really enjoyable. Himalayan nature all around incl snow peaks.
Amans dream is to travel the world and has done a lot of research to make it happen. He learned a lot about the regions, he want to go, through all kinds of YouTube videos. Also his english is quite good ‚I learned it by watching english movies‘
I was his first westerner to host and I was really impressed, how he managed the challenge. All the best for you and you are always welcome, when I am back in Germany.

With a full bag of food I leave the house. I am still in the Himalayas, maybe at around 1000 elevation meters, when I realize, some km before Damta, traffic is still little…. but I react by sneezing somehow allergic to the traffic smell. Damta is also not a big place, the town (village) feels dust and whatever polluted? I don’t understand. … my feet are also much more dirty and my yellow trouses got so dark today…. The street does not go much up or down but it seems dust from the brakes of trucks and busses are in the air…. It’s still 50 km in air line to the bigger places….

This is, which I have most respect to. The upcoming dust, smoke, pollution. How to dive through this? All the pollution has such an impact on the people – including me. How to keep the bubble around me clean? How to bring steppps of peace into ‚this’…… (that’s the reason, I asked for help – walking help – until now no-one did sign up for this period – it’s between January and March 2020 plusminus)

And one thing more:
I am really looking forward to finish and complete the steppps peace walk in spring 2021 – but until then I want to enjoy every day and every moment

3rd day of cleaning

At the 3rd day I have the feeling people avoiding me.
I have a rest in the nature to feel clearer.
After that I decide to leave the day after.
The chairman is not to speak …. (because of the election ….?)
I clean up everything at the riverside, as planed. It looks good. This could be a starting point for the river clean up in both directions… just a dream?…. ?
One big bag I could not move over the big fence, even with one helper. The hotel worker promised, not to bring it back to the burning place…. I very much hope so…

At the last evening I get a nice present and letter from the neighbor kids, done with so much love…. with the wish to meet again in five years ……


Just before Purola I have to walk close to a ugly dump, and it’s burning. Cows are looking in the rubbish and smoke for something to eat. Surreal.

Coming to Purola I see some benches, surprise. That’s somehow rare. The town started to collect the rubbish? So the town is somehow clean, also not so dusty. People maid feel the difference. But the dump problem is not really solved, but it’s a little start towards the right direction. It need a real waste incineration plant.

I tried to find someone, who can tell me about Uma, is she in the area or not. Only after I decided to take a hotel for 300 Rupies suddenly information flows. Gangaram, the assistant of Uma, knocks at my door, Uma is for another 10 days in Delhi. He shows me on his phone videos of her and her garden. Just beautiful. A real nice open heartful moment with him.

Next morning I somehow feel not to move on. My body or what… I don’t know, does not want.

The nature around is so beautiful. My room is towards the river. There is even a terrasse towards the river, but only rubbish bin there. No consciousness towards having a rest there, maybe 2 chairs and a little table?….

Looking down towards the river, people still burn there rubbish and use the river side as dump area. The river takes it all….

I went to the hotel owner to tell him. I need some bags, I want to clean up the area. This is now happening already 2 days. I report on Facebook: ‚Thomas Heinrich Schmöckel‘ about it.

Within hours at the first day I have 1 TV station coming for interview, a newspaper, lots of neighbors get so interested. Everyone likes what I am doing, but they are kind of in a mind shock.

One guy, later another one says to me: no-one ever has done this in our town.

A 10 year old boy says worried: but if you are going again in a week or so, they will again start throwing things in the river and burn rubbish.

Second day in the morning a hotel worker want to come and burn rubbish. ‚No, not anymore at the river side, the rubbish has to go to the rubbish collector car, which comes every day‘  (I would love to plant 2 or 3 trees, exactly at the spots where the burning places have been…. don’t know if I have enough money for that)

I have to speak to the chairman of this town. We have to find a solution, to bring the recyclable trash towards Dehradun to the recycle companies. Until now there is no transport system for it. I am also happy to help some people to find a clean-up group.

Let’s see what happens the next days.

So good to walk on Mother Earth

Walking to Purola from Mori its so fun taking short cuts. One of them is a long one, where I lost the path after a while. I orientate myself on the sun. The mountain area becomes very steep. So I have to climp through the jungle in the hope that I don’t have to go down the same way. The soil is a bit wet from the rain 2 days before, so superperfect for being barefoot. Through sweating and enjoying climing the feeling is so strong, that we are just make for this kind of walking, directly with our feet palms connected to nature. Also a saying of Thay,  Thich Nhat Hanh, is very present:

Is a wonder to walk on water, but the real miracle is to walk on Mother Earth.

My barefoot walking is first time so strong, that I kind of ‚fly‘ the way – and I managed even a new barefoot ‚record‘ for myself. Around 25 km in a day from Mori to Sulani.

Coming over the last real pass internet connectivity is there again. Also a message from Annelie arrived regarding Uma Shankarananda Giri. Let’s see if she is in her hermitage.


I did 11 days without shoes, walking barefoot. For the beginning a good result. In fact, sure, I walk less km than with sandals. I will give myself more time … if it needs.
Every morning after waking up my feet is in a kind of cramp. Not a physical cramp but somehow a energetically cramp, which has an impact on the body level. Walking feels a bit painful the first steps, then it gradually gets better every minute.

Further on, my feet seems to have fungus, at least it’s visable, that there is some sort of skin problem. I have to see how people judge me or at least I feel judged. … In my opinion, a part of this is not illness anymore… its something, what comes out from inside, a old something, let’s call it karmic or so…. a fire from within, what’s has to express through the skin and then vanishes . But I must say, it’s sometimes on the edge, that I myself believe it, but knowing better to the same time ….. but there is no other way to do so.

Walking barefoot shows myself and other how wunerable we humans are….. and makes myself even softer?…. with myself, with others….?!

Swami Abhishek told me today, where to put the rubbish. Towards the river side. In fact there is no water flowing there, but it feels weird to do so. ‚The plastic we burn from time to time‘. I said ‚ but the plastic gets blown away, then it comes into the river, then into the ocean…. animals eat it….‘ Finally we talked a bit about trash. ‚There is no help from the government‘.
So it seems the whole India cleaning campaign is organized by the 28 states inside India. So in Himachal Pradesh the government is a bit more developed than in Uttarpradesh? Or does it has to do with city and countryside development?

Honestly. What would you do, if you would not know better? Would you store all the plastic? I guess not. But the good thing, help is ‚proparbly‘ on the way. Also on the country side. Awareness is already in the people’s mind, but they feel helpless without help from the government. ….

Today evening it rained. Abhishek says ’skywater‘

Survival mode
Sleeping under dirty stinky dusty conditions activated my survival mode. After the night my nose keeps running and .y eyes are weeping in order to clean up.

Mori and Swami Abhishik

All day long I walk with flipflops. The nature is soooo beautiful. The river is clearly coming with its turquoise colour from the glaciers. Along the river beaches white and glittery sand and big stones, washed in the monsoon,  when the water level is so much higher. Green vegetation of all kind the mountains up. Tiny little villages every some 5 to 7 km. Just paradise.
And again. Coming from this paradise into a village like Mori. It’s just shocking again. In this village I can feel hardly a glimse of paradise. Nearly not imagable, that it is so close. It’s just surprising again and again. Just the second day staying here, I saw one restaurant, cafe by chance, which offers a tiny cute terrasse to the river side.
Again I end up in a temple, build by Swami Abhishek Giri. He is just 27 years old, rasta hair down to his knees with a superbig smile in his face to recieve me. He is a man with space inside, that I can feel. He has another guest, a man from the Uttarkhand government, helping with the local elections, happening these days. I look around. Swamis bed stand by a big fire place, where he does the rituals in the morning. In one corner I see a very grey mat, rolled together. Will that be my bed foundation? Again a dirty bed? Yes, it comes like that. My mat. On top I get another blanket, also smelling. On top of that a non smelling thin but warm blanket. And a bigger blanket to cover myself, again not smelling. I refuse to eat at night. Instead I feel comfy to just meditate at 8pm, sleep at 9pm. Television is running loud, Swami smokes Bidis and whatever…. I have ear plugs and a shawl to cover my eyes.
I sleep good, meditate early, and then, still during meditation he starts the Agni fire ritual. The whole room is in smoke. Eyes and nose is running and it takes hours, until they stop again.
Laundry – I do, but does it make sence to wash here? The next smoke attack will ruin all the washing effort. I pack the freshly washed clothes in a bag deep down in my backpack.
Swami Abhishek did build all the temple since he came here, when he was 20. His hair grows since then. The temple lays directly at the river side. Can’t be fit in better.
I flee from the smoke to one of the beaches which I saw the day before. Two times I fall to sleep. Relaxing time.
At the evening I decide, to leave the room before the next fire ritual in the early morning to continue my way. Whatever time that may be.

But it comes different. The fire ritual is very small this day. And the idea arises to write the blog. I stay.
During my writing he always interrupts me and tries a conversation, which turned out very interesting. Despite some communication proplems I understand, that he is able to stop all the work of his sences incl his breath and pulse, as discriped by the wise, which is the state of Nirvana to which all the yogis and seekers are aiming to. A state, where mind and body stops working. This state is a enlightment sign. Some years ago some doctors examined him while doing his praxis and proved it surprisingly right, checking pulse and breath which stopped for 5 or so minutes. Then after everything started to work again. Also in Vipassana the Buddha has discriped Nirvana as such, where all sences stop to work as the evidence of reaching the state of Nirvana.

I continue writing the blog. A afternoon break to catch some sun warms brings me an invitation to his home village more up in the mountains, just 7 km away from here. A friend of him will cook for lunch. I except.

Walking with Swami through Mori before heading of to his home village people pay respect to him. Lots of stops in different shops, an invitation for chai here and there… Lots of conversation. Car ride which follows has a lot of stops, too. The village lays further up in the mountains – and sure, a stop at the temple is on the way. Lunch is just so delicious. Potatoes with butter, vegetables and brown rice. The people here grow only brown rice and I learn, that it’s actually a extra sort.

On the way back we walk all way downwards through the forest. Earlier this day I saw a sign ‚Clean India‘. Because Abhishek said earlier, there is no help in this area from the government, I just wanted to check in there to connect him with a maybe clean up group. Finally we ended up in a official office and we discussed the issue. Seems, that people in Mori are not so much interested to improve there situation. An public toilet can’t be build because of not finding the right property. But there is a group further up in the valley, which collects already trash and the officials are on the way to buy a vehicle to transport trash and recyclable material towards recycle fabrics…. let’s hope… anyway, there is only one solution… to go for it!!!

Since 3 days no internet, so also from Annelie no further information where Uma is to find.

Which way

Coming to Tiuni, entering another State Uttarpradesh from Himachal Pradesh I can feel the difference. Electricity is not working properly, internetconnectivity poor, the first impression of Tuini at night, what a bazar, feels like only shacks here…. Again I got a hotel invitation. I just said to me supporters, looking around ‚in the middle of the cold night I appreciate a warm blanket, even though it’s dirty‘ not knowing how supersmelly it was by then. Anyway I slept deep and long, weeping out the ugly smell and dirt on the way next morning.

Due during the night conditions and the task, what route to take towards Dehradun it took a while to find a place inside me, where a decision could be done. 3 roads were optional. One, the bigger one , I anyway would not like to take. So, two left. One of them is through the mountains towards Moussouri. This is the one I prefered most. It’s through a nearly 3000 m pass. This road is narrow and about 10 km longer than the 3rd option. But I really have to feel into this. The 3rd road goes through Purola. Annelie, who 7 years ago, walked with me through Romania, and wrote a book about her experiences on that 3 month journey, also wrote some years earlier a book about Uma, a German women, which lives there, close to Purola. So, should I go see Uma because of Annelie’s connection or because Uma is an interesting person? Uma is now in her 80th and lives since the 1950th in the area somewhere around Purola in a Hermitage. Annelie also told me, she maid not be there , often nowadays in Punjab.  And not 100% clear, where to find her anyway. She mentioned two villages on whatsapp voice message I could not understand proparbly. I asked Annelie to write the village names down. No reply. Hmmm.
Anyway. I decided to take the way through the 3000 m mountain. Soon after, a guy talks to me, sensing that I was thinking. He said, that the way through the 3000 m pass is not allowed to foreigners, because of a military area. I could walk only 60 km, then the military area begins. Ok. Then it will be the road towards Purola.

I make my day, still barefoot walking shortly before a small village. The street seems to be more raff, so I have to wear my slippers a km before reaching my day goal. It seems, that after walking so many places in India, now I have to get to know more Hindu places. Because my night is again in a Hindu Temple.(I walked in Punjab through ‚Sikh territory‘, in Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh I was often interested in buddhist places) Together with 6 or 7 other people we sleep in nice clean blankets on the floor there. It is a good and calmful, peaceful experience.

This third way is also so good. Nature so beautiful. Famous Hanol temple I reach  in the afternoon. To my surprise about 100 other people stay at the temple also at night. Dinner is served by the temple at 8 pm. This is always a torture for me. At 5 pm I get normally so hungry. In the Hanol village  there is no real food and no fruits to get at 5pm. So I have to wait. But at 8pm my stomache is just closed up. At 6 still open and hungry, waiting. At 7pm still open, hungry and waiting. At 8 pm no real need to eat anymore. But there is also no breakfast early, because people eat late. What to do. Ok. I eat at 8.15pm finally, with the risk that I can’t sleep because of eating late.
The blankets come from a store room, they smell a little moldy, but do I get used to it? We all sleep on verandas on side buildings of the temple. Here is Vishnu worshipped, today I don’t feel a real connection.
My barefoot shoes are now always inside the bag. The slippers I left outside the temple area. In the morning they where gone? At least not there where I left them. A shop keeper tells me to look at the dining house… not there. I come back to the shelf at the temple gate… oh, they are back. Somebody wore them. It just does not feel nice, that someone took my slippers, it feels this person wore them in a unrespectful way. It takes about 30-40 min. Then the bad feeling disappears. They are back again.


The following days I ofter cried in the morning doing my first kms. Today it was because of rubbish laying around and also weeping out the smell from the night. Together I could say, tears are rolling out of eyes and nose because of clensing.

From now on people passing by, stopping for selfies….. some more, some less questions, happy to see me….asking, what kind of help I need, offering money or something to eat….
One situation besides many others. A car stops, he opens the window, says happily hello, namaste, opens his purse, with a warm smile and heart wave a hundred rupie flies to my side. Bye… so touching….

In the evening I arrive Hatkoti. Not knowing, to what a important place I will be introduced to, I meet Shubam and Happy who will show me around the following 18h.  Shubam is also a priest in this Hateshwary temple, where Durghamata (Mother Durgha) is worshipped. First I have to leave my shoes outside. Hmmm. I never had a problem with this anywhere, but because I have now this superfancy and expensive barefoot walking shoes with me, I can’t leave them outside (later, in other places I wrapped them in a plastic bag inside my backpack – in fact, this is also not allowed, also no animal pieces, like leather belts are allowed in any Hindu temple) Anyway, after a while we found a good solution and entered the temple inside area. This temple part, where Durghamata is worshipped, is at least 5000 years old, actually they said 5000 B.C., before Christ. I tried to check in the net, but I could not find a proof. Shubam told me, that experienced scientists often say, that this place is so unique and old, that they could not think of anything like this somewhere else. Only 25 years ago this temple was only surrounded by nature and farmland – I see beautiful pictures, now lots of buildings, partly hotels and shops a build close by. Shubam and Happy asked me, what I feel,  and, until the next morning I could only say, that I have no visual connection to all this Hindu gods and godess, but that I have a deeper connection through chantings and mantras, which I have practised. But next morning, sitting with time and company at Durgamata’s Temple I truely felt a connection from my heart to this place and to her and/or the worshippers. I really would have liked to stay in Hatkoti a day longer, but because of 4 weddings there, Shubam could not arrange something.

Coming back to the main road, I meet Ritzyy. He invites me for breakfast. As he understand my need for a rest, he immediately books a hotel room for me including all the food I will eat during that day and the next morning. In fact, I had to wait a few hours more, before I can really enter my ‚rest’room, because the room seems to be ‚busy‘. They always say ’some more five minutes‘. When I finally enter around shortly before 3pm I can still smell the ‚cigarette after‘ leaving a flavour. Also here, in the little bit more expensive room, the quilt has no sheet…..

Next day, late afternoon, my friend Steve from South Africa is suddenly on whatsapp, suffering from the city of Johannesburg. I just sent him fotos of everything gorgeous nature around me and we have a great dialog through multichatting. Even I take him visualy to my next host Rohit and his family and how it looked there,  close to Pabbar river. Here I have first time on the walk, a really nice clean bed. What a joy . Hot water included.


I feel a bit exhausted,  but because of the dirty blankets, I can’t stay for a relaxing day. So I decide to walk very slow. It goes downhill now for a lot of time towards Rohru. Here and there I sit down and at the end of the day I will have covered only 7 km, but I don’t care. I have to take care of me and my feet. Very nice and mindful.

While sitting and enjoying the scenery a car stops. The driver, Nikhil, asked the typical questions. When he understands, that I walked all the way from Germany, already 7 years, his face showed surprise. He left his car and I told him to sit beside me. I just don’t like it, when people ask questions, me sitting, they standing, and I always have to look up towards them. But he kindly sits down. We have a real nice conversation, I show him the article done some days before, Nikhil, assistant professor for tourism in Rampur,  leaves even a donation and says: I will start a campaign with you. I do not know what that has to say…. At the end of that day, I saw on Facebook an article about our meeting, that I walk all the way barefoot and that I like cleanliness. He asked the people to help me in any way. Already after a short time after publishing it was liked so often and people started sharing his article quite a lot of times.

This Facebook article will be shared 420 times within a week and liked 1900 times. Looking on his timeline I could not find any other post which was shared so many times.

This happening empowered me to walk the next day 16 km, all barefoot, my record with naked feet and 10kg backpack until now.

Coming out of nature into district capital Rohru I am overwhelmed by dust and polluted air. A very enthusiastic guy stopped me, a shopkeeper, did not know about the articel. Knowing this he immediately copied the articel and made it his… All the family was happy to have me, but I went, because the owner made himself feeling so important (and we were sitting in the middle of the dust)…… Also it was still a bit early and I did not reach the center yet. A few meters further I was stopped by some people, calling me 100 m back to there shop. First I did not want to go there, called them to the place where I was standing, they came… After some conversation I agreed with that request. The shop owner had a serious request towards me ‚How can I make my shop more attractive? What can I practically do?‘ Normally I can answer something like this only after working there for a while. ‚First you have to clean all the rubbish and dust from your property‘ Lots of shops in the city or even villages lay very close to the street and are kind of small, sometimes they look like shacks. But his shop has some little space in front. It’s a kind of bakery or cakery with some normal shop offerings. The offering area looks clean and need. ‚In the front you can have even some nice tables and chairs, maybe you start with just 2 tables, if it works you can have more‘ maybe 4 or 5 could work. ‚Use some colour and you can maybe even have some coloured flags to attrac attention. If you make your little shop nice, proparbly others in the street follow, situation will improve‘ And when I first came there I saw the empty property beside, which is with a tree and green, but full of rubbish ‚if this would be my shop I surely would clean up all the rubbish here. I would not care that this is not mine‘ and he would benefit from cleaniness because it would shine and lit up his shop. What I always miss, coming from a paradise like nature in India, while entering a village, that even after 100 m into human civilization area you dont feel nature anymore. The clean nature area beside him could change this. So his shop could be connected by the tree and greenery beside his property to nature.

Finally I ended up in a little hotel with smelly everything…… 😊