#YatraDiaryForZizou

My experience walking part of the Maharastra leg of the Bharat Jodo Yatra- in the form of a diary maintained for Zizou

enroute to Basmat — Tapovan Express

Unchanged experience about a train journey has to be the food — it is just relentless — an hour and half into my trip and I think I will put on all the kilos I lost practising for the Yatra before I even start walking!

Another unchanged experience is the impunity with which a largish group simply takes over seats — singles, are expected to adjust — tossed around like floatsam — one chap has now been moved 3 times- as for me I am not letting go of my window seat- Mumbai rules.

Folks with tonnes of food in tow. chaps who fall asleep as soon as they settle in. Bawling children. Do I hear some one call out Chole Bhature- na, I am imagining food after vada idli and vadapav. One more group has invaded, singles being called out — Duck.

Basmat to Hingoli — our Jod Yatra:

Day started — breakfast — kichdi with bhaji and tea

Then onward to seek the blessings of the Rayetecha Raja and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar

Blessings done, we started off in right earnest — under the gaze of some curious onlookers

Stop 1 was at a local school where we had the privilege of interacting with students — they beat us in the slogan contest ! So nice to see Dr. Dabholkar remembered like this

Off we went — to our afternoon halt at Kurunda

Flowers kept us company reducing the tiredness the heat brought about — keeping our spirits up as we marched on to Kurunda. Stopped for an early lunch.

Rested for a while at this lovely place. Sayaji Shinde and team have helped in the afforestation effort around this area. Many more such hands will be required.

the road beckoned again — like an insistent teacher; pushing us, making us believe in ourselves, so off we went

Srinivas Shinde

The setting sun; the artist in the sky was at her best — some stunning views

As we were walking, some folks on a motorbike hailed us and asked us to halt ahead. Well we did. We were served some tea, water and biscuits. out of the blue, by a kind stranger. Kindness, Zizou was on display every step of the way.

The sun kept us company and bid a fond adieu. A long days walk across a brilliant landscape- Day 1 ended on a lovely note; we were energised despite the niggles.

Night camp was at Boldawadi — one of the two eco tech villages set up for tribals in India. A most beautifully constructed village, spoke to some locals who graciously allowed us in their houses and their lives for a few moments. Simple, delicious dinner of besan, bhakri, rice and dal followed. Took the opportunity to serve food; good fun.

Day 2 began with some breakfast; wada with the Wall!

Our enthusiastic team continued till we reached Late Rajeev Satav’s house at Hingoli — Gone too soon. Forever in our memories. A true leader and a great friend.

and then finally our little river joined the ocean — welcomed by Shri Manikrao Thakre at Camp 2 of the Bharat Jodo Yatra

Day 3–4:00 a.m and someone was playing Kumar Gandharva — stillness of that moment and the beauty of the notes that Kumar brought out — just sublime. now to walk in the ocean of the Bharat Jodo Yatra; started off very early and waited — first glimpse of Rahul Gandhi and team (all videos shot during the walk are posted at the end of this note via a youtube link). Here I was shivering; fingers not moving even to type and there he was simply walking along unmindful of the cold.

Spotted this super painting carried by Omkar Prabhudesai from Nanar Ratnagiri — was reminded of my brother, who goes by the handle Aquarian Truths on twitter — he has the same photo in his DP.

Unbelievable scenes of people from all over just joining in from all corners; Met many people who had got together, hired vehicles and got to the location of the Yatra. Many were aware that the mainstream media is not covering and everyone said why do we need them now. They were aware that the media is on the wrong side of history.

Every person was in awe at the speed at which Rahul Gandhi walked — it was like chasing a hurricane. Also the u shaped space he walked in was where the Yatra was at its calmest. the proverbial eye.

All the folks who met Rahul Gandhi, mentioned the immense sense of comfort that they felt — This girl in our group mentioned that hugging him was the same as embracing her mother; as if they had known him for a long time. They mentioned the clarity of thought and his constant concern for people walking alongside.

Another refrain that I kept hearing apart from Indiracha Naatu- “he has walked all the way to here and from here to Kashmir, least we can do is come here and wish him well”.

What struck me most was the kindness of people I met, some would give a banana or two, some offered tea and proffered a word of enquiry about where I was from, how long I was walking and whether I needed any help. Flowers blooming everywhere.

Was extremely pleased to note that the battle to reclaim our country has well and truly been joined. History is being made. The Yatra is an opportunity to discover the things that mater to you most. It is an exploration of self, as you walk in that huge mass of people you connect not just to them but deep within your soul, something stirs. Hope and courage are formidable allies.

This is a preparation for the long battle ahead. What Rahul Gandhi is telling each one of us that “you will not walk alone”; that he is always at our side, listening, sharing the affection that he receives at every corner and always exhorting us to shed fear. As did this woman standing alone, yet defiant.

I kept bumping into Arvind’s XI who were on ground shooting their documentary — hustling along in a most determined manner.

You will also be happy to know that his documentary “Healing Hill” was released by Jairam Ramesh in a press conference — super proud of him and his commitment

It was Pt. Nehru’s birthday — people had lined up on the streets with impressive tableaus to commemorate the ocassion — no matter what the current ruling dispensation does, they can never remove the tremendous affection felt by kids and everyone else for this great man.

Met Mr. Raju who rode all the way from Sangli on his bike; said hello to him.

Then met Bunty Shelke — INC corporator from Nagpur someone i like for his great service during Covid and in general for his tremendous sense of daring do. Also had the good fortune to meet Mangesh Nipanikar an artist from Pune who specialises in works which are best described by the words, magnum opus. Incredible body of work.

Day 3 ended — back in camp 2 for a meal and rest. Surprised by the lack of tiredness; i guess there is a strange strength one derives when walking with such a righteous crowd.

Day 4 early morning —

Some folks from my team got an opportunity to walk with Rahul which was an extremely proud moment for the rest of us. And the greatest of kings — our Maharaj was with us all the way

And of course had a breakfast of (revolutionary) champions:

Morning half done — it was time to head home after 90+ kms, spread over three and a half days; all in all an experience of a life time.

And yes, i must tell you Zizou, I carried this in my sling bag while walking. So in a way even you, did the Yatra.

As i headed back, i thought of what the Yatra meant for me.

For me, The Yatra was a great occasion for reflection, to listen to some very talented people, to have the honour of them allowing me into their lives and share a few moments as we walked. I hope when you read this diary after a few years when you are all grown up; these posts will give you a sense of the occasion — the sights and sounds as they unveiled, interactions that helped to raise my spirit and convinced me that our great nation is still in the fight, that we have not given up; the spirit of resistance that got us this far still prevails in our fabric.

Yes, the last few years have seen many a hiccup but a united nation will rise to beat back these bullies. Do remember when all seemed lost, Rahul Gandhi and the Congress stood up and said — this has gone on long enough — it must stop now — this hate, this divisiveness, this attempt to drive a wedge in our core philosophy — all this has to stop. We must pause, gather strength, rebuild and reset — there is no other way.

As I wrote earlier, you did in a way walk the Yatra. Always remember whenever you have to make a choice between a road less travelled and the highway of comfort — think of the Yatris who made the arduous choice. The seeds of revolution planted here will mean that you have a place that will remain your home — this great country. I sincerely hope that we do enough from now on to keep it that way.

These two things I believe will help you:

  1. treat everyone you meet with love, respect and affection.
  2. Find purpose, the means will follow.

If finding purpose had a face, it would be that of Rahul’s; he has set himself on the path of discovering this nation and also himself. And he is taking us on a journey alongside him, showing us what we truly are.

So let us both wish him well as he continues in his Yatra, his quest for nothingness.

As we say in Goa; Rahul, “Dev Barem Karo”

I would like to thank Amey Tirodkar and Ashutosh Shirke for the opportunity to participate in the Mahanirdhar Yatra — our little river which finally met the mighty ocean of the Bharat Jodo Yatra. Srinivas Shinde for his fantastic organisation skills. Pratik and Jivika for their constant encouragement.

And to my dear friends Richard, Aquarian Truths, Rahul Desai, Chaya, Boy, Fulu and Bharat Bhau — all of you did walk with me.

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Maruti Naik

I write to remember. I write to remain honest. I write to leave a bread crumb trail for my daughter. I write to relax. Trying to impress my better half, I write