This post is in continuation to: ‘Finding shade – Walking across India – Moving Upstream‘. These posts attempt at answering one of the most common questions that people ask in relation to our long walks, “how do you manage your stay while walking?”. The first part showed you glimpses from the first leg of the journey through the plains in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
This set of images is mainly from Uttarakhand, and a few from Uttar Pradesh. A lot of people had joined the walk in this final 500km stretch, learning directly about the issues that plague the river and it’s people. What makes us happier, is the balanced representation by males and females in this journey, something that our future updates will discuss in detail.
As we made our way higher into the mountains, we spent our nights in strange and unexpected spaces. We got food, shelter and love from strangers, but there was a surprising change in the behaviour of Babas (spiritual Gurus), ashram workers and even some locals here as compared to those in the plains. Surely no one is entitled to any help or services, this is purely an observation.
The areas that I had walked through, in the plains along the Ganga were unfrequented by outsiders. The ashrams did not care about profiteering either and the newly made connections were mostly based on love and humanity. However, the heavy movement of pilgrims in the Garhwal Himalayas has somewhat changed people’s perception and behaviour towards outsiders. According to a lot of people, locals and those who chose to cross-question us upon their own convenience, being present in these areas in the ‘non-yatra’ (religiously non-active) season could only be born out of malicious intent.
These incidents are interesting to observe and discuss, especially in retrospect, but they can take their toll while on the field. Having said that, this should be reason enough to step out. Explore the country, meet new people, learn about them and document their stories, because it is only in not adhering to impositions drawn because of stereotypes that we can hope to shatter these falsities.
This photo story attempts to offer an insight into what it would be like to walk across India and i sincerely hope it inspires you to go out and do your own walk. The next post, ‘Riverside portraits’ will be a new series where we put together images from the river banks, along with their social and environmental implications.
Till then, I leave with you a few more pictures of our resting spots from the walk.
You can write to me at [email protected] if you want to discuss about your journey, i’d be happy to help you out with some tips; or if you have any questions, please leave your thoughts in the comments section below, i will try and answer these questions with the next set of pictures.
Moving Upstream is our homegrown project, the first edition saw us walking 2500kms along the Ganga from the sea to source. We are working to create a multifaceted experience revolving around the river. For more from the project visit: www.veditum.org/moving-upstream, and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more frequent updates.
We’re working on expanding our work with Moving Upstream to other rivers of India, if you’re interested in collaborating as an individual (participant/artist/researcher) or as an organisation (partner/sponsor) please reach out to us. Should you wish to re-publish this article, send us an email at: [email protected]