My last day of my old life. The chrysalis is starting to tear and I’m vulnerable to the elements and predators as I spread my wings for the first time.
This day is surely my most dangerous – Taliban, wild dogs, stone throwing kids, crazy truck drivers, pan fueled nut jobs – they pale into insignificance as I enter the wildlife park on my bike. Containing the highest number of Asiatic elephants rampaging through the jungle destroying everything in their paths and containing the largest number of Tigers of any other park.
As I’m coming down a hill I halt suddenly as elephants are spotted. What to do – wait and be easy prey for the tigers or risk being crushed to death beneath tonnes of elephant. I decide to go for it – a motorcyclist says “go past on the right and go fast!!”
I’m here and hence safe but man I think that 1hr was risking it a bit too much!!
As I continue I am joined by cyclist and motorcyclists, our number is increasing as is the number of flower wreaths round my neck – it’s starting to get heavy. With 1km to go I see in the distance a huge crowd gathered. Adults children men and women all dressed so colourfully and bearing banners. As I get closer I see they are wishing someone a happy birthday and congratulations. A little closer and I can make out my logo ‘Velo Love’ in the hands of every child. They’re here for me and the tears begin to flow.
Cheers, claps, drums rolls, singing, dancing – it’s a carnival as I walk my bike towards the school with a 6 yr old on the seat and hundreds of people from the village and the school following behind.
Singing and speeches follow, tears follow that. Not just from me but from the teachers, the pupils, the media crowd that have gathered. I think something very special happened today in this little Adivasi village. Wow – I cut a cake, again bearing the ‘love’ logo and now I’ve lost it. My head in my hands as they sing happy birthday in English with their beautiful accents and then sing again in Tamil.
For the second time in India my life has changed forever.