Day 7: A Delayed Start, changing landscapes and my past reflected in children's eyes.
The lingering excitement of Day 6 still hovered over our heads. As we tried to get off to a speedy start, we were unfortunately delayed because the driver (Nagaraj) of our little “advertisement van” that constantly trails us in the back during our walk, was taken ill. Once his replacement, the younger Ramesh, arrived, we got back to walking ways. However, we could not explain the delay to our host trader, Govindswami, and hence he was worried for us.
Dashing through the roads, avoiding traffic in the morning to catch up on last time, we finally made it, and apologised for our little timing mishap.
We walked fast and at times, furiously, making about 25km. The landscape changed accordingly and started getting flatter, rockier and hotter and with sparse tree cover. The sound of power looms consistent along with swathes of irrigated sugarcanes, hybrid maize and ginger; the same crops that have benefited a small selection of farmers. In addition, the new highway, providing quicker mobility, has given many families new forms of employment. Although positive in one light, the drastic changes are having negative effects too, which cannot be understated.
As we walked, our friend, Panju, had already swung into action and linked us up with a school for technical training courses on the other side of town. More than 100 students, who had never heard of climate change or fair trade, where engrossed by the story of the walk.
The school offered us lunch and we came back to Erode, only to dash to Bhavani town. Here, we met more than 60 students (of both genders), with the boys, for the first time, showing more of an interest off the bat. Slowly, yet steadily, a group of girls from the hostel joined, and we had a wonderful conversation. These children, of the indigenous community, felt thrilled to be there with us, which is hardly surprising, giving that they all come from very difficult conditions. I personally identified with them, given my own struggles to get to high school and college, which eventually enabled me to get out of poverty.
These children will stand a chance too, thanks to the support from the government and a good warden.
I felt so buoyed, but exhausted and hungry. But engulfed by hope and optimism.
A quick thank you to everyone supporting the walk once again.
A special mention to Sir Alwaye, for his far reaching support, Shanmugam from NAWA, Nyo from Uganda and for my two brother-in-law’s Sivakumar Balasubramanian and Viswanathan Balasubramanian.
Onto Day 8 my friends!