Anish Dhakal, Nirmal Baral and Dilip Chhetri have taken to riding across the landscape of South Asia. Anish, an environmentalist, with Nirmal and Dilip, two social workers, wanted express their zest for life by riding bicycles from Nepal, across India, and have now arrived in Dhaka.
Their journey started on November 12. Bicycles were chosen for three major reasons – no adverse impact on the environment, good for the body and easy to fix.
Anish, Dilip and Nirmal have one message to deliver to every nation they ride across. A message which is dignified in its simplicity, and perfect for this day and age. They urge people to give back to the Earth.
As Anish puts it: “We are all guests in this world for 80 to 90 years. Each of us, should do something meaningful.
“We have to live in such a way that future generations can be at peace. Conserving the environment is not a duty we should shirk away from.”
They have been riding for over two months. They crossed into India from Nepal on December 30. In Delhi, their zeal had caused people to accost them asking who they are and what their intentions are. People were astounded by their determination to ride across thousands of miles to raise awareness about conserving the environment.
With 15kilos of luggage to each man, there was not much they were carrying. Clothing, tents, sleeping bags and the bare necessities to survive on the road helped them cover great distances every day.
Anish says: “We ride hard. We can cross about 100-120km every day. On a good day, we can even cross 130km.”
Their journey was not hindered by adverse weather. The winter offered clear skies and open roads for their taking. But the only thing slowing them down was eating, Dilip says.
“It’s not good to ride after eating, you know? Digestion and whatnot.”
They crossed over into Bangladesh via Benapole and rode into Sharsha. The hospitality of the natives, the compassions showed to them came as a surprise.
Anish says: “Some elderly people took to calling us their grandkids!
“They were surprised people would actually ride such great distances on bicycles!”
A stretch of road from Jessore to Magura gave them memories hard to forget. Anish and Nirmal concur the most beautiful sight they saw on their entire journey was along the highway from Jessore to Magura in the January winter. At the same time, this very road proved to be difficult terrain with broken pitch and reckless bus drivers.
Anish was knocked down with his bicycle by a bus driver. Fortunately, he escaped with minor scrapes and bruises. But the accident, they claim, did nothing to take away the majesty of the landscape.
Dilip says his favourite place was Mongla port where people constantly plied them with food.
Their arrival at Magura was met with enviable hospitality. People appeared in droves to refer to them as “brothers from Nepal” and offer them food and shelter.
When the trio set out for Dhaka, they were stopped by a man on the road.
He exclaimed: “You’re the cyclists from Nepal! I have heard of you from BDcyclists!”
Anish, Nirmal and Dilip were taken aback by the effervescent joy with which they were greeted by this stranger on the highway.
They took up residence at the house of a contact in Dhaka who greeted them like long-lost friends.
Anish says: “The way he treated us, it was like we had been friends for so long.”
The trio leave us with a message:
“The world is rife with pollution – air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution, soil pollution. The world is threatened by climate change and the greenhouse effect. We must act on reducing our carbon footprint. If people from one country can travel to another on a bicycle, then so can people inside a city or town travel. We just have to act on our concerns for the environment.”
After they visit all the Saarc countries, they hope to travel to every continent within five years, and visit over 100 countries. From Bangladesh, they will go to Sri Lanka on a plane.