From 3 February 2020, I will be taking on the epic challenge of cycling 4,500km across the entire length of India. Starting on the very southernmost tip in the city of Kanyakumari, I will end up 45 days later in Kashmir, almost in the foothills of the Himalayas!
My goal is to raise $450,000 for the Loomba Foundation. Each cent I raise will help to empower widows in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Day 16 (18th February 2020) From Adilabad to Nagpur – 1,600 km completed (2,900 km left)
It’s nice to finish the day. I get into the warm embrace of the car and, in fact, today we’ve got 100km to go to get to our accommodation. It’s a good example of why we then stay 2 nights and then do a loop. So, I’ve cycled 100 km, we’re driving 100 km and we’ll stay there tomorrow night aswell. I’ll do a loop of 100 km and that makes up the difference. Thereafter we can travel northwards.
Feeling rough this morning
The morning was rough, really rough. I was tired and I think it was from walking the 444 steps at the waterfall yesterday. As it was cold this morning I wore my fleece for the first 20km. The speedometer wasn’t working because it wasn’t set up properly and I’m too incompetent to fix it. I had to wait for Sachin to sort it out for me. And, I was just generally feeling ropey and tired. I remember looking at myself in the mirror just before having breakfast and thinking ‘Blimey, you look old and knackered. Truly old and knackered.’
From the lows to the highs
But that said, there were some really lovely moments when I was in the flow. Again, the roads mostly were really good. These national highways are super, thankfully. There are sections that haven’t been made up properly and that’s a reminder of what it would be like to cycle on rough roads all the time. Frankly, I think it would at least double my cycling time and I can’t begin to imagine how awful that would be. It would certainly be super punishing for my perineum.
Making chai and grinding tobacco
I’ve tried my hand today at a couple of other things, I became a chaiwala (tea seller) for a time. I had a go at grinding tobacco on what looked like a classic Indian Jugaad (Indian frugal hack) machine to grind tobacco. The smell of it after is incredibly pungent, and the video captures that.
We are now in Maharashtra
About 20km after leaving Adilabad, we left Telangana and entered the state of Maharashtra, which is the state in which Mumbai is in. Mumbai is where I spend most of my time along with Delhi. It’s the financial capital of India and the official language has changed from Telugu to Marathi.
Health is good at the moment
The other thing I’m really, really grateful for is for my health at the moment. The two days about Bangalore is now a bit of a distant memory, but it was horrible and it shows how much we rely on our good health. I was just feeling so rough, so exhausted, and my stomach was hurting. It was just not a good time as you heard from the video I did at the time, I was almost ready to give up.
The simple things in life
Even though I have time for thinking and for reflection, the reality is that it’s pretty mundane as I just think of really simple things. If you live a simple life, which is clearly what I’m doing at the moment, you think of simple pleasures. I’ve been thinking about my bucket and mug shower. You will think this is crazy, but I’ve been thinking about exercising for pleasure, rather than as a job. I’m looking forward to a couple of days in Mumbai after this is over and before I head back to the UK. I fly back from Mumbai and I’m looking forward to just running along Marine Drive for pleasure, so that may sound a little odd. And I’ve just been thinking about family and friends.
Langurs used as guard dogs
As we were driving I got very excited because we saw a great big Gray langur, which is a big monkey. It ran across the road holding it’s baby. And, interestingly, I’ve seen langurs in Delhi being used as the equivalent of a guard dog. They are used to chase the smaller macaque monkeys away. So, I’ve seen these great big langurs on leads, which is a sight to see.
Biryani + curd = no Biryani
Abdul, even though he only speaks a little English, is making himself known to me, either directly or through Sachin or Pawan, but it’s very amusing. He was diagnosed with diabetes a little while back, and there are certain things he’s not meant to eat, including rice. But he has a real weak spot for Biryani. So whenever we have Biryani, he eats lots of it and then he has convinced himself that by having some curd within 15 minutes of eating the Biryani, that it’s fine. So, it’s amazing what things we tell ourselves to justify having something that we’re not meant to.
Abdul the politician
The other thing about Abdul is that he is hoping to stand in some local elections when he gets back to Haryana. He’s been on the phone a lot, sort of taken over from Mahadev, because he’s trying to drum up support for his local election. We’ve all been saying to him that we hope he remembers us when he’s famous, and the other drivers been caught referring to him as Modi Shri instead of Abdul Shri.
Thinking of Sam and Hannah
I listened to some more music today and the stand-out track was ‘Fields of Gold’ by Eva Cassidy. It is one the favourite tracks of my elder son, Sam and his long-term girlfriend, Hannah. Sam is a doctor and Hannah is an accounts manager for a company called Student Beans, who provide students with discounts for shops, restaurants, etc. Sam did his paediatric exams recently (last weekend) and he thought they went reasonably well. He’s already requested that I take him out for dinner when I get back, which of course, I will be more than happy to do.
Listening to Invictus
Holly and David recommended that I listen to ‘Invictus’ read by Morgan Freeman. Invictus being the favourite poem, apparently of Nelson Mandela, so I’ve just listened to it and I can see why David enjoyed it so much. David is one of my heroes and was the inspiration for my 30 marathons in 30 days because he did something that was much tougher. He walked around the south coast of England around Devon and Cornwall. He went up and down the steep cliff paths and did 25 marathons in 25 days during the winter He walked in the dark in the morning and in the dark in the evening, so I absolutely take my hat off to him. That’s tougher than anything I’ve ever tried.
Some more music suggestions please 🎼🎵
I just wanted to thank everyone for their music suggestions, which I’ve taken all of them and have added them to my playlist, so I’m looking forward to enjoying them when I play my ‘great songs’ on shuffle. I’ve been listening to a guy called Vin Garbutt. It gives me nice memories of Fran and Ally, who introduced me to Vin Garbutt songs, like ‘If (I had a son)’.
And I’ve also got some specialist music requests as I need three things please:
- Great Italian love songs
- Great French love songs
- Some really lovely melodic British folk music
So those are the three specific requests for recommendations please.
Chai with my sugar
On the Indian chai front, as before when I did the marathons, it is sort of miraculously (along with Sachin’s ‘magic hands’) getting me through the journey. We’ve started to joke that there’s so much sugar in Indian chai that we now ask for sugar, and then we think about whether we want to add any chai. Whether it’s a couple, two or three, teaspoons of chai along with our sugar.
We’ve just arrived at the Oyo townhouse, which looks very nice, and Abdul’s very happy, so he’s singing Oyo! Oyo! Talking of Oyo, they have been brilliant with helping to manage and arrange our accommodation.
That’s all for today.
PS Thank you for all your kind comments.
🙏 Why I’m cycling across India 🙏
Unfortunately, many widows in India are very badly treated when they lose their husbands. As well as facing verbal and physical abuse, rape and the threat of being evicted from their homes, they often have no income whatsoever after their husband dies.
This is where the Loomba Foundation comes in. Through their empowerment programmes, the charity provides skills training and other support to help widows become self-sufficient so that they can support themselves and their families.
I’d like to ask for your support I am already more than half way towards raising $450,000 – I’d love it if you could help me smash my target. Your support would mean the world to me and would help to change the lives of thousands of widows and their families.
If you are in India, you can make a donation here:
💥 Ketto (India) 💥
If you are in the UK or elsewhere in the world, you can make a donation here:
💥 JustGiving 💥
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