Big Words. Poverty is neither a disease nor is state of mind ( like some politicians had ventured some time ago). Vineet and I had partnered with Rang De a few months ago for the season 1 of the Ride to Fight Poverty and travelled to Pabal in Maharashtra to meet with entrepreneurs there. Needless to say, our lives were changed for ever hearing about the struggles the people in rural India went through. You can read about season 1 here and here.
So when the good folks at Rang De! contacted us again to do a follow up, we jumped at it! we wanted to make it bigger and better this time. We reached out to Aditya Raj Kapoor, a friend, fellow biker and traveller to ask if he would be interested and introduced him to Rang De. After a thorough due dilligence on how the NGO functions, Aditya jumped in full fledged, fully convinced that this ride could and would make a difference!.
And off we went! 3 of us, Aditya on his lovely Triumph Bonneville, Pratik ( a close friend and biker) on his Classic 500 and me on the trusty Theia! We wanted to go into interior Maharashtra this time and decided on Pusad, where Rang De and its partners had helped farmers to live their lives a little better through their various Micro Finance initiatives.
We kick started on day 1 at 7 am and proceeded on the Mumbai Nashik highway. While starting, Aditya told us that he hadn’t explored the malshej ghats in a long time. We needed no excuse to ride the ghats and quickly turned our bikes to go via the majestic ghats instead of the normal Nashik highway. A quick chai, poha and bhajiya stop for breakfast later, we were in Malshej.
Pratik(Left). Aditya(Right) and Me at the Malshej Ghat
Our steeds at the Malshej ghat
The poha breakfast
Our next stop was Aurangabad and we needed to cross Nagar and reach there before evening. So without much ado, we started again. The heat was starting to creep up! the past few days we were warned by the press and therefore the entire family that we were riding during a heat wave across central and north India. Temperatures were expected to soar to mid 40’s. As you can see, we don’t ride without our gear and in this stifling heat, de-hydration was a definite risk.
We also realised that we were passing through the sugar cane belt of Maharashtra and this was our saviour. Instant energy and the safest drink around, because of its freshness, we consumed copious amounts of the juice and that kept our throttle going!
Nagar crossed, and Aurangabad was reached in a few hours, ScoutMyTrip had suggested a hotel in the heart of the city but close to the highway. We found it easily ( muttered a silent prayer for the lovely location) and checked in.
That evening we were in for a treat! The local biking group Throttlers MC and the Harley’s Owners Group (HOG) at Aurangabad wanted to meet, and if we thought it was just a few friends coming over, we were mistaken! We were hosted at a local hotel with full fanfare, 14 bikes, Harleys and Enfields in all shapes and sizes parked in the parking lot greeting us with their traditional exhaust sounds, welcomed us. Over dinner we got to know each of the brethren and they us. When we told them about why we were doing this ride, they wholeheartedly supported us. A few hours and many many travel stories later, we were back in our rooms tired but raring to go!
Throttlers MC and the HOG team with the ScoutMyTrip team at Aurangabad.
6 am , and we were out of the city. quickly found our bearings and started the journey towards Pusad. Our next stop was for some yummy local missal pav and a pine apple milkshake! I kid you not! In the hinterland , there was this small shop that was advertising their famous pineapple shakes and in this heat, we couldn’t resist! Thank god for our weak wills, it was the best breakfast we had in a very long time!
The awesome pine apple shake and Missal Pav
Pusad was calling and we entered the small village around 5 pm. Needless to say, it was hot. The temperatures were pegged at around 45 degrees and we were feeling it.
While resting our minds were with the farmers and the families. This heat and they had no option but to toil hard to put food on not only their tables, but also ours. We mentally decided to double our efforts to ensure that their plight would some how be alleviated by our efforts.
The next day, after a quick breakfast, the good people of Rang De had organised our visit to a village called Digras – 30 kms from Pusad. We kick started our bikes and rode to meet with 3 of the most amazing people ever. 3 women entrepreneurs who were funded by small loans from Rang De. Money that the average city boy would spend in a weeks time at the mall or a family of four dining at a decent restaurant. This money had helped these families set up their business that would take care of not only themselves but also give a decent education to their kids.
We were touched by the love and affection that the families, poor only monetarily, showered on us. Words cannot capture the love , hence the rest of the story in pictures…
The happy kids at Pusad school
Aditya with one of the beneficiaries of the loan
Pratik being welcomed at one of the homes
Love through simple home made food.
The face says it all… its very tasty!
We were literally fed!
And we talked. understanding their perspective!
Random Clicks, Theia demanded this pic!
At another borrowers home.
And Discussions galore…. with the whole village
This gentleman has single handedly helped over 800 families!
At the Karma devi mandir…
And Pratik also makes an appearance!
The love brings a smile to our faces!
How can we not smile when we are in such august company!
My pics generated a lot of interest!
Some more smiles..
The women folk also wanted to get into the discussions..
Inside the home of another Borrower
Tired but still fulfilled!
This lady’s family makes drums!
A fourth borrower !
The college students wanted to also meet us!
This is the smaller gathering!
This gentleman has walked with Acharya Vinobha Bhave, and he came to meet us!
On the way back – a quick stop at Lonar- found on ScoutMyTrip!
Chai always tastes best on the highways!
Brilliant Sarson Da Saag found on ScoutMyTrip at the Punjabi Amritsari Dhaba near Jalna
And parathas to boot!
Lovely Lovely sugar cane juice!
I took a session on safe riding with the local college students!
Blessings at Shirdi ! On the way back!