New Internationalist

The cycle diaries: into ‘real’ India

The organization I work with , ACCORD – which aims to improve the human rights of adivasi people in India – arranged a fund raiser cycle trip from Bangalore to Gudalur last week to raise funds for an amazing school for adivasi kids. In addition to the basics, the school, Vidyodya, tries to keep the culture and values of these indigenous children alive, unlike the mainstream schools around us.

At night we listened to the story of the farmers’ movement: the struggles for survival, against globalization and damaging agricultural policies. It could have been an all-night session, but everyone was overwhelmed by the physical fatigue of having cycled 80 kilometres in very hot sun. The second night, we visited the RLHP (Rural Literacy and Health Programme) slum dwellers’ federation project and a local school. And the third night, some people slept under a magnificent peepul tree, under an enchanting moonlit sky, in the middle of the Bandipur forest.

We stopped to taste fresh, tender coconut water, local buttermilk and lime juice. Everyone including Lucy, Robbo and Sophie – visiting British volunteers – survived in spite of all the warnings that local water would lead to Delhi belly.

We stayed in free or cheap lodgings. But for the Brits, as well as the Bangalorean city slickers, it was a taste of authentic, real India, away from the madding crowds, the pollution and traffic jams, in pristine, beautiful surroundings.

Those interested in the next cycle trip can log into Mad Cycle Tours or email Nishita Vasanth.

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