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Overland Journey from the Top of the World (Social Forum) - part 2

So I took a bus and went to Pokhara. Here, I could taste the other side of Nepal: the place was calm, peaceful, surrounded by nature, clean. It is also touristic; but it is ok, considering that I went there as a tourist!

I enjoyed outstanding activities: I explored local sightseeings, rented a Royal Enfield and had a great tour in the mountains, jumped the second highest bungee jump in Kishwa, walked in the landscapes, watched the sunrise, played cards with other travelers from my hostel in town…

After 3 days, I moved to Chitwan, where there is a nice national park to explore, filled with wildlife. I had a jungle walk and saw tremendous amounts of deers and peacocks, among other things; one rhino for instance, although it was half-hidden by the vegetation. Two guides were required for the walk, whereas it did not look that dangerous. We did not do anything crazy, nor went for a difficult walk. It was a bit expensive for this.

Surely this is made for tourists; nevertheless, it is a great opportunity to do it at least once. Additionally, I could see a rhino walking in town before that! Indeed, I looked for a church to attend the mass on Sunday, and I ended up in a protestant church in the neighborhood. I was warmly welcomed by the pastor and his family who had me for dinner and the next day with them.

We had a great time and good conversations. They also shared insights about religious issues in Nepal which were very interesting. And from the top of their church, we saw a rhino having a chill walk in the surroundings! Lovely unexpected part of my journey.Then, it was time to move on again.

I came back to Kathmandu, enjoyed the opportunity to have an additional talk with Shail about the GSR, recovered my stuff that I left there, and took a jeep which drove me to Birgunj, at the border. After crossing it and having dealt with the administrative matters, I spent the night in Raxaul, the Indian neighboring city. From there, I got a train to Kolkata. The trip was good; I met a passenger with whom we talked a lot and watched Oppenheimer.

Eventually, I reached Kolkata early in the morning. I came to meet a friend who volunteers with the Missionaries of Charity, the Sisters of Mother Teresa. We spent one day and a half together. It was short but amazing.

We went together to the slums and shared good vibes with the people there by laughing, dancing, singing, sharing food, playing football. We saw them killing a pig too, one more unexpected experiment! Then we provided meals to the people from the streets with the sisters.

The next day, we visited the flower market, apparently the largest of India, which provides the whole country! It was a hectic, busy place.

We were immersed in the middle of the locals’ business.

My next destination was Visakhapatnam. I reached the place by train again and came to visit Sharat. He is involved in a project of interest that could relate to the GSR. It is about developing sustainable practices and communities in India for agriculture on the whole supply chain.

Sharat introduced me to the project and several programs that they have. After clarifying the GSR on my side, we discussed collaboration opportunities. Sharat was excited about our activities and wants to keep in touch to consider these opportunities. Mainly, the organization of an event of the same kind than the upcoming Summer School appears relevant. He would be happy to try it for the end of 2024 or later in 2025.

After spending a nice informal evening together, he left me to the train station where I got my next train to Chennai. Now, I’m writing these lines in the bus that drives me to Puducherry. I will be back to Auroville in a few hours.

As my journey comes to an end, I want to express my deep gratitude for all that has happened to me during these 3 weeks. This overland journey inspired me in so many ways. I met more people than I can remember; some were only passing by, others might cross lives again thanks to the moments that we would have shared together, about discussions, visions, taste for adventure, common challenges… I explored many different aspects of India and had a great tour in Nepal. Definitely, I end up more confident about being on my own and adapting to the unknown, welcoming the unexpected, loving the other. There are so many positive consequences of this journey that I don’t even know them all yet. All that I can say is that I am proud of this achievement, and definitely ready to renew it in the near future. Aim: Green Silk Road Summer School 2024 Romania!!!

Thank you for reading me!

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