We made it!

We made it!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 15 Walk from Chanapatna to Bidadi

As often happens I awoke a little earlier than Bec and Gus and took some time to just lie in bed and think about our journey so far. Interesting to me that I am for the most part quite settled on this trip. In the past India has presented to me a trip about searching for answers, for happiness and about planning for the future. This time around it is much more about living in the moment and knowing that life that is awaiting us back in Melbourne is a good life that is where we want it to be. I have taken a strong message this year losing my friend Tim Johnson and trying to live up to his goal about living with a great attitude in the moment. I know I don’t quite live up to Tim’s lofty standard but it is a constant sense of purpose and direction for me now. It is in a strange way inspiring to be here in India already inspired and living life with a real sense of purpose and direction. It means I am more relaxed and more living day to day, rather than waiting for that epiphany to come along.

I take a moment to think about our team. The kids have been incredible. They have been engaged, fun, motivated and very involved in every activity. Indy has been a beautiful strong and committed member of the team. She has fully immersed herself in the opportunity and has already taken a great deal from her interactions in the communities we have visited. She is just such a credit to herself, every day I just sit in awe of my 13 year old daughter who amazes me with her attitude, commitment and ability to rise to the next challenge. Maggie has brought her humour and her special razzy ways. Despite winning the award for the least organised member of the team she is an incredibly strong and resilient 9 year old who has proven herself to be up to some major physical challenges. There are not too many 9 year olds who have walked 26km across rural India in one day and Maggie did this and more. She is also a very positive member of the team who loves the interactions with others, all of the kids we meet just love Maggie. Maggie is the type of beautiful kid who sings her way through life, on the walks she is often found singing at the top of her lungs and when she is in the Maggie zone just talks your ear off, barely stopping for a breath.

My mum or Nanna to the kids has been very strong this trip. She has clearly come with a very positive attitude and despite a couple of very testing events along the way she has stayed strong and positive which is great to see. Mum has also been extremely helpful with Gus and has really stepped up to enable Bec to be a part of the walk and relax knowing that Gus is in good hands. Popsy is as he always has been our rock. Popsy moves between this no fuss, get on with the job individual to a fun loving, song singing, storytelling entertainer who the kids just adore. Nicola and Eibhlin have been wonderful. Coming to India for the first time they came open to the experience with no expectations. Interestingly I find people have two quite different experiences of India, I personally have had both. The first is that they hate it, couldn’t get out of there quick enough and never want to return. This is the very unfortunate experience where you don’t stay long enough to get over the initial shock. The second experience is that India is a magical place where you have these wonderfully contrasting experiences of people, culture and every sense is utilised. In my talks with Nicola and Eibh it is clear they have moved straight to the second experience and loved every minute of it. We have also loved having them here. They have been amazing with the kids and it has been energising having them also as part of both the walk team and the support crew. They have gone out of their way to put the team first and been incredibly supportive. As I think about our little Manny Gus who has just been a little legend. At 3 years of age he is just so loving of everyone he meets and so freely interacts with adults and children alike. He has had his meltdowns and tantrums as any 3 year old would have but he has also been so loving and involved and it has been incredibly beautiful to have him here every step of the way. Finally to my courageous and beautiful wife Bec, the absolute soul of our family and a woman who inspires everyone she meets. She brings the sunshine everywhere she goes and everyone loves her, including ofcourse me. She has been the queen of “where’s my” and has just been so calm under so many different needs and requirements of the team. She is our organiser, our supporter, our nurse, our friend and part of the walk team. I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive team member than my wife. I have loved spending each and every day with Bec, she is my world.

So today the kids decided it was time for a full rest day. We are in Day 5 of 6 long walking days and with a cold going through the team the kids decided to take a well earned rest. Nicola, Popsy, and I with Big mama coming off the bench left nanna and Eibh on support crew duties and headed off for our 26km walk from Chanapatna to Bidadi. The morning started with me doing something I had committed to never do, get involved in a family dispute, that is another family’s dispute. We had just got out of the vehicle to start walking. As we walked off we could hear a child screaming. He was about 5 years of age, dressed in his school uniform and was standing beside the vehicle parked behind ours next to the freeway. As I turned around I noticed a man step out of the vehicle to face the screaming boy, he had a stick in his hand and was winding up to hit him. He saw me starting to walk towards him and looking at both of them intently. He hid the stick. As I walked up to enquire what was the matter he started grabbing the sobbing child very roughly by the cheeks clearly trying to quieten down the situation as he could see I was becoming very interested. I gestured that he should not hurt the child. At this time our driver Raju could sense my involvement and came around to share with me that the boy wanted to get back on the bus with his family and not go to school today. The family were trying to encourage him to go to school, something that we often have at school drop off times with Gus. Whilst I was uncomfortable about the physical nature of the interaction who was I to get involved. I walked away with mixed feelings about the whole incident, again just another morning in India. As the child’s family drove up the road in the bus the boy ran screaming after the bus, he dropped his thong of his foot. I walked back and grabbed it for him, the back half was worn down to nothing and one of the rubber straps had broken, I grabbed it anyway and handed it to the boy as he walked back, having lost his fight to get back on the bus and head to school.

Aside from that event the day was very much a walk day, little interaction and experience and just about pushing through the k’s. We put our head down and walked the 26kms in about 4 ½ hours, pretty good going. Nicola with her sore knee did an amazing job keeping up for about 15kms and Bec and Poppa and I finished the walk into Bidadi. The terrain was pretty uninspiring as we walked along the highway. Difficult walking as you need to watch every single step. For most of the journey the verge is a combination of crushed rocks, many tennis ball size and covered with dirt and dust. It is quite uncomfortable walking. The only alternative is to walk on the edge of the road and trust that the speeding buses coming up from behind will have the courtesy to miss you. We choose to walk on the rough verge.

Tonight is a farewell dinner for Nicola and Eibh as they travel back to Australia tomorrow, they will be missed. Tomorrow we walk into Bangalore for a few rest days, collect my sister Kate and her kids Ally and Max from the airport and our family will be reunited once again. We have several amazing days ahead of us including a couple of rest days, good times ahead.

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