This A to Z is based on cycling as a woman alone in India, which makes a whole lot of differences. Before I cycled through India, I have travelled extensively by public transport and always solo. I haven’t counted the exact entries into India but it must have been more than 15 times.
The ‘Fucking Hippie’ in a hurry through the Himalaya
I am called the hippie when it was clear I like to concentrate on ‘weird’ people, people who have stepped out of their known society and do something different.
The modern-day hippie who thought she’d fled from the rat race
The pedaling from Shimla to Reckong Peo went well. Though I must admit I start to question the reason of cycling in a loop?
The start of the Himalayan Ride
Nutshell flashback: I have just cycled a 3500 kilometer straight through India in summer and have arrived in pre-monsoon Delhi. Taking a ten days rest where I do many things but rest, I need to find out about my way onward.
It’s a bloody hot business: cycling in summer!
The heat. That terrible heat. Building up each day and gathering in the air, being hoarded by hazy invisible clouds who attract the heat and collect it, to give it to you in the night, so you’ll be warm and toasty.
Rajastan my love! I again recognize you!
Entering Rajastan is the beginning of bad roads. Every new province seems to introduce itself by a difference in their tarmac, an indication perhaps that there are more important subjects for a province than a road.
The troubles of finding lodging and succeeding in beating the heat
‘What do you like most about India?’
Being a bit tired of many little interviews a day, I answer the simple truth:
‘Did you see dinosaurs?’
‘Here? In Omkareshwar? No,’ is my answer to the strangely attractive Brahmin with blue eyes. He’s got a fair complexion and for a moment I think he’s a Westerner. A very good one, copying a pilgrim though.
The joy of being in Hindustan, finally, reach me: on full blast
There’s a whole lot more cycling through rural area’s. In fact, it’s only cycling through rural landscapes. There’s still not a lot to see, but the info I receive is most uplifting: India is perfectly able to feed her self.
Cycling as a tourist: A route past many temple cities
A puppy is stuck in the sewer, a black, stinking collection of dirt. He is too weak to crawl out by itself. He is howling softly. I walk past him, as do other people, and I think ‘no one is helping this poor little puppy’.
‘Fucking??’ asks a guy who’d followed me from the spot where his friends where loading a truck with sugar cane. I had asked the way and he thought my eyes were asking for his penis. Understandable. So I agree. Sex with a complete stranger never even talked to will be a dream finally fulfilled!
I restart to question the meaning of life, cycling in India in the first place.
Arriving in India is questioning almost everything. Not even the meaning of cycling, no… way further than that. It is suddenly being trowed in an enormous washing tumbler on a dry program. Full speed.
My first impressions
I have reached India, one of my favorite countries. A country I often make comparisons with. Like India is king. India is a country where I have been to many times, so often that I lost count. India seems better after you have been there and not when you are actually there.
Being in India about a month now I can say I like it. It is a huge difference with where ever you come from, a fact I know too well. Nevertheless it took me 3 weeks to get accustomed to the traffic, the never ending attention, the heat and the effort to get just anything done. Cycling, again, is an absolute different approach to India.
Eind maart 2010 kom ik terug van een winterse trek naar Mount Everest basis kamp en trek ik door Varanasi waar ik onverwachts langer blijf. Zodoende besluit ik Marie-Lou Barboza op te zoeken, een non die een kindertehuis runt.
De organisatie waarmee Focus on Education de scholen heeft gebouwd, heeft ook Dharmender opgevangen toen hij een schedeloperatie onderging. Hij heeft een elektriciteitskabel tegen zijn hoofd gehad waardoor hij een open schedelwond had.
Surej werkt op de werkplaats van Bajaj, één van India’s grootste eigen producten, een gemotoriseerde riksja.
Van 29 februari tot en met 4 maart 2008 worden de scholen in Khassausi, Dhaura, Bijnad en Taati bezocht. Daarna Sahasra en Tarbar. Daarbij ga ik ook proberen 3 individuele personen te bezoeken.
Maart 2009 begin ik aan mijn tweede grote klus voor Focus on Education. Marijke introduceert me, vanaf grote afstand, aan Antoni, blijkbaar heeft ze prachtige woorden gesproken met de medewerkers van de stichting Sint Joseph’s Development Trust en ik mag zolang ik wil gratis blijven.