On April 2, 2005, Dinesh Mule and Sudeep Athavali from Tanven, New Mumbai reached the Valley after a 20-day bicycling trip that began at their hometown on March 14. The dark, intense and spirited Mule and Athavali, who is younger, gentler and more grounded, share a passion for adventure and cycling and have been together on many a journey for over eight years. The Himalayan Times congratulates them on their unique endeavour and achievement and wishes them longer and more interesting trips in the future. An excerpt from an interview. What made you undertake this trip?
Mule: We like travelling and meeting new people. We also enjoy bicycle trips. We thought this journey would be a good way to combine the two things. We also wanted to promote the activity of cycling not only as an exercise or sport but also as a viable means of conveyance to work, visit and even travel. Athavali: Well, cycling does have many benefits as compared to other vehicles. It makes for no fuel consumption, minimal or no pollution (and imagine how that can change the condition of roads and traffic in many countries), is a good exercise, can be taken up as a sport and, last but not the least, it brings you closer to your and others’ rural and real heritage. By cycling, you can go places where there are only cart tracks or forest trails or even no roads. We really enjoy going to such places and it is possible to cover such long distances and, at the same time, reach many interesting sites, only because we choose to cycle to these places.
Did you have any interesting experience on the trip?
Athavali: The trip was nice, even easy and we met many different people. We found out that throughout India and Nepal, villagers are much the same in that they are kind to travellers, generous, open with advice and very friendly. Everyone helps, even the Army. The trip was surprisingly not difficult, especially since Nambise where the hills begin, because there are no hairpin bends. We did the 25 km in three hours.
Mule: All of the above. Plus I would like to mention the villagers of Sanghvi in Madhya Pradesh on the road from Buldhana to Amravati. We had a flat tyre and we were tired and hungry and it was already night but they were generous with their help and good wishes. I feel that what has been most important for us is that we have come to realise that respect begets respect and confidence begets confidence. And, of course, one has to be upright, kind and brave. How do you feel now that you have completed the trip?
Mule: We feel that we have achieved something but life goes on. We are already planning our next journey.
Athavali: I feel just fine and I am looking forward to the trip back home. We’ll do it on bicycle.
What is your message to youngsters in this country?
Athavali: Travel. Be yourself and love your land but also visit different places on the subcontinent, know and relate your heritage to the different peoples that you meet because that, too, leads to individual and national progress.
Mule: Ditto. And for me, aadmihi sabse badha dharam hai (humanity is my most important religion).