The year 2020 came with a lot of challenges to the global human species, specially for a large population dependent on daily income for survival - who faced days of hunger and malnutrition, while strict lockdowns were enforced to stop the spread of the #corona disease. The year disrupted all my plans, first related to the padyatra - but also putting all my other plans on halt - related to social work.
So what is TEICY?
"The journey is through Eastern & Northeastern India, hence - The East India Cycle Yatra (TEICY)."
Finally, life brought with it another chance - for me to experience the depth of the country with a cycle, across the fertile lands of Bengal - through the valley and scenic routes of north Bengal, finally into Assam. Originally the route planned was to begin from Hyderabad, cycling through Odisha - and continuing to Assam via West Bengal. The changing restrictions around COVID led me to change the route and hence it started from Kolkata - while even making further changes enroute, making the route 1400kms instead of the originally planned 1550kms.
[The portion below is borrowed from another post of mine at: bit.ly/TEICY]
Why this Kolaveri Kolaveri di?
Living in all parts of India (all 28 states) and traveling extensively over the past decade, I saw a lot of things, met all kinds (almost) of people and ate almost everything in the vegeterian domain (i do not promote any kind of eating habit though), I also realised that travel isn’t about going from Point A to Point B, and just waving our hands in the air while doing so. I learnt living between people, calming myself despite having less or no private space, no choices, and no fixed bed to sleep on. I ‘struggled’ physically to grow mentally. All of this eventually led me to go on different walks and cycling journeys across different parts of India. Let me quote something I had written in another article of mine —
Ever since I started traveling on my own across India, living in the villages of all the states so far, I discovered a sense of purpose, of my being, not in a way that can be accounted or compared through numbers or data. This is where most youngsters today ‘struggle’ in finding themselves, it’s about the idea of who you really are, who you can become. Honestly, words cannot describe this yet we are so limited in our abilities to express in such a ‘modern’ world.
I have had a hunch, a long long ago — that I am going to walk over 1 lac kilometers across the world. How would I do it, why should I do this — I have never had answers to that. It was purely a ‘thought’ almost more than a decade ago, when I was totally unaware of such ideas and even the world beyond money and greed.
Journey so far...
Yes. 2100 kms walk | 3200 kms cycling
a) 1200 kms walk | Pondicherry to Dharwad (without money & phone)
b) 1800 kms cycle yatra in Assam (without money)
c) 100 kms walk in Konkan, Maharashtra
d) 200 kms walk in Uttarakhand (without money)
e) 200 kms walk in Bastar, Chhatisgarh
f) 400 kms walk in Gujarat — Dandi Yatra (without money & phone)
[End of portion borrowed from my other article]
What was NOT Planned?
As we DID NOT carry any MONEY (cash or card), our support for Food and energy was entirely dependent on the people we met on the way, except for a few friends who had agreed to host us in some of the places mentioned.
A few places, we had to repair our cycle(s) which was either offered pro-bono by the shopkeeper or another person offered to pay for the same. Some of the challenges came in the form of people deciding to 'host' us in a Hotel/lodge due to their fears around Covid19 infection.
The TEICY journey
Overall, there were three cyclists during the entire route - myself (Ankit Das), Mohit Garg and Sultan Charania. Sultan bhai is no more with us due to an accident in Uttarakhand, may he Rest in Peace.
Our cycling journey begun from Gandhi statue, near Eden Gardens, Kolkata, West Bengal on 19th April, 2021 and finished at Vivekanda Vidyalaya, Majuli, a total of 1400 kms and it took us 20 days.
We passed through Dakhineswar, Bardhaman, Shantiniketan (Bolpur), Rampurhat, Pakur (Jharkhand), Farakka, Malda, Raiganj, Islampur, Kishanganj (Bihar), Chopra, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar, Tamarhat (Dhubri), Kokrajhar, Barpeta, Rangia, Nagaon, Tezpur and Biswanath Charali.