Woke this morning to a power cut, so packing the rucksack and pampering the feet took so much longer. It was all done with the help of my torch. I was ready and just about to walk out of the hotel when the power came back on. Oh well, let’s just walk.
It was a 16km walk today and my feet were not feeling too bad. But I never get over confident, because I know it won’t be long before a new blister develops.
When walking on the road side, obviously you have to be very careful of the traffic. In most parts of the world, the rule of thumb is to always walk facing the oncoming traffic, but not in India.
The cars, trucks, tractors and any other vehicle you can think of all believe they have the power to over (or under) take. This means if you walk with your back to the traffic, you can face the over-taking cars coming from the opposite direction. I have found the overtaking cars to be the most dangerous, so it is those I decided to face. At times, they are so keen to over-take that they leave the road and come on to the dirt on the side of the road of I usually walk on.
So after nearly completing my target walk for the day, another man stops on his bike. An older man this time, 50 maybe. I know he is not interested in a selfie. We talked and I decided to take his help and jumped on his bike. Again I am so glad I did. We drove off but after only 50 meters he stopped and pulled into a roadside shack. ‘Shall we have some tea?’ he asked and I thought ‘why not?’
We were not there long before LB told all the people in the shack about my quest. They all shook my hand and all the tea was free. Some guy approached me and gave me his sunglasses.
LB then got on the phone; he told me he knew someone that lived in the town, Parbhani, that would look after me. He said he was sure he would love to meet me. It was only a 2km walk to town and I insisted I would walk. I was just leaving when LB’s phone rang. He gave it to me. The guy on the other end of the phone spoke perfect English and told me not to book a lodging, but instead have LB bring me to his house. So I did. Back on the bike and soon I was at the house of Sarang and Lata. I was greeted and blessed into their home.
We talked and I found out he was a social worker and was doing all sorts of things for charity. It was like we had met before. I sat in his house and we exchanged stories. Then he showed me my room; it was massive and took up the whole of the top floor of his lovely town house. Fate, I was thinking, there must be someone looking over me. How can I keep being this lucky?
They then fed me breakfast and arranged an agenda for me for the day. Sarang explained that he and Lata are helping run the Shanti Project. This a project set up by an orphan girl from this town, Shanti, who was adopted by German parents. Later she returned to India to try to find her biological mother but was unsuccessful. Lata saw her and gave her land and the project was formed. Money is raised to support and help women to stop them giving up their children and it also gives them a role in society where they can earn their own independent money.
There is more information about the project on this link:
First I am shown their office, then we visit the hospital Shanti was born in and adopted from.
This was my first experience of going into an Indian hospital. The first thing that I was blown away by was the smell, and to be honest, it wasn’t a smell you could call hygienic. It was a maternity hospital and I was informed 60 children are born here every day.
I get to see a new born baby, only 15 hours old.
We leave the hospital and I am driven to the red light district. Part of the project is to get women working, sewing, making things to sell to discourage them from going into prostitution. So within 10 minutes, I have gone from a hospital to a brothel.
The idea is stop the next generation from going down this route. I told Sarang that since living in India, I had not seen many signs of prostitution. He answered that the more it is hidden, the worse it is.
I was then shown all the workshops that have been set up for these women to work in.
I visited three separate locations and even a slum area. Each time I received a blessing on entering the properties. In total, I was blessed four times in one day and given flowers and wreaths.
What a day, I couldn’t believe how much I had enjoyed entering these wonderful peoples’ homes and lives.
We returned to the house and I talked to the son, Loukric, who showed me how to do the Rubix cube in less than a minute. I had go and thought back to the 1980s, when I only ever managed to do that once and that was down to pure luck.
In the evening LB turned up with his two wonderful sons and we all had dinner together. He brought me flowers.
Going out together in the evening, I bought some peanuts and dried fruits for walking energy. We talked late into the night, and I felt sure I would know these people forever. A week after this blog, they travelled to Mumbai on business and met up with my family.
You would be hard pushed to make all this stuff up.