On Day 5, I’m definitely feeling the previous four days of cycling. But, even though my limbs are sore, it feels good to be moving for such an important cause. This morning, as I was cycling towards Hura Keshabpur, I decided to stop at a roadside dhaba (food stall) for a quick breakfast. The other people also eating at the dhaba were intrigued by my appearance, and we had a brief conversation about the #MoveforEarth movement. I love impromptu stops like these because it allows me to talk to folks who might not otherwise have heard about this cycle ride or the climate awareness-building work we’re doing in the region.
I eventually arrived in the village of Hura Keshabpur where I attended the inauguration of a school that was also launching Environment Education classes for children as a key component of the regular curriculum. Educating kids from a young age paves the way for systemic change as they get older and better understand the deficits in our current systems, especially with respect to impacts on our environment. On my ride out of the village, I also had an interesting conversation with the man escorting me out. We talked about the potential for millet and subsistence farming, but the lack of a communal marketplace seems to have prevented more people in the village from taking this up. I carried this conversation with me, especially since I knew I was meeting with farmers at the next few events.
I arrived in Bankura for the Indigenous Rice Festival. This was a lively event with incredible folk performances and wonderful interactions with farmers. I learned a lot about handicraft production in these areas as well – work that is normally undertaken by young girls and women. I ended the day with an Agriculture Buyer Seller Meet, where I met with even more farmers and government officials. It allowed me to continue the conversation I had earlier today regarding accessible marketplaces for people to come together and sell their produce and other goods.
As I wind down today, there are a lot of bittersweet feelings. Today was the last day of cycling for me, but it’s also the start of something beautiful. I’ve learned a lot about how people think about climate and environmental issues in their daily lives, whether it was through people I met at a dhaba or someone excitedly telling me about their recent electric motorcycle purchase or farmers practicing sustainable agriculture. Though we’re nearing the end of one chapter of #M4E (I am still attending a couple of events tomorrow), we’re going to continue peddling away into the dawn of this fun and inspiring movement. Now, I’m ready for some much needed rest in anticipation of our last day tomorrow, but I’m already looking forward to our ride in Orissa.