Day 31: Wednesday, March 22
We decided to stay for another night, making Wednesday the closest thing to a day of rest we’ve had on the whole padyatra. After a slow morning of chai and laundry, we began a group meeting at 11 a.m.
First on the agenda was our schedule. A large portion of the meeting
was dedicated to discussing who was going to sit on the hunger strike,
and who and how many people would or could meet with the Prime Minister to discuss the demands. We discussed how the day might unfold
on the 28th (when the hunger strike would begin) and what the
conditions would be for ending the hunger strike. A debate arose over
the issue of tobacco smoking — the group widely agreed that smoking
could not be permitted among anyone sitting on the hunger strike, and
it was suggested that any smokers planning on participating quit
immediately, before the strike. A doctor will come to the group in
Delhi on the 26th to check everyone out, especially in regards to the
That afternoon, a few reporters came for an informal press conference.
No plans were formed for exploring Palwal. Everyone was extremely
tired and was enjoying just lounging around for the day. After a very
spicy dinner of dal, rice, and roti, people fell into a long round of
singing, drums, and bells while a small team cooked a special treat to
end the day — a huge pot of khir, which is made with rice, milk, and
Day 32: Thursday, March 23
We didn’t leave the dharmsha until about 7 in the morning. We sang
and carried banners through the streets of Palwal as the street
vendors set up for the day.
The day before, the owner and several employees of a nearby gas station heard about the padyatra and came over to the dharmshala where we were staying to offer us chai and breakfast the next day. So, we made our way over to the Bhardwaj Service Center and enjoyed pampering by the owner, Mr. Shyamlal, and the whole crew, who served us a couple of rounds of chai and fried sweets.
Mr Shyamlal and his crew from the Bhardwaj Service Centre with Rashida and Champa
Later that morning, once we were out of Palwal and walking past crop
fields again, a news crew from CNN-IBN found the padyatra and began
CNN interview Shehzadi
The news crews ended up staying with the padyatra for several hours, walking about five kilometers with us and staying with us through our whole lunch break, shooting candid footage as well as conducting interviews with several of the padyatris.
SOME SIGHTS ALONG THE WAY
From the top, camel cart, army horse transporter, bamboo yard
We stopped for lunch in the village of Gadpuri at a beautiful and
shady youth program campus home to about a dozen peacocks.
The reporter from CNN-IBN conducted an interview with a small group
including Champa Devi and Sathyu, who gave some eloquent words about
the importance of responding to Bhopal in setting the tone for what
transnational corporations think they can get away with in India.
Our entry into the outskirts of Ballabgarh marked the very end of any
rural or empty landscape in our journey. Ballabgarh is a dauntingly
industrialized place adjacent to Faridabad, which is adjacent to
We arrived relatively early at the Jila Faridabad Brahmin Sabha Dharmshala, an exceptionally clean place with a huge garden lawn.
Defying fatigue, a large group of padyatris struck up a no-rules game of soccer using a ball they had found here.
Day 33: Friday, March 24
We got off to a late start, not waking up until about 7:30 a.m. A
little after 10 a.m., after packing and preparing for the day,
everyone gathered together for another meeting to discuss details of
our plans in Delhi.
The details of our six demands were made a priority among the topics of discussion. Halfway through the meeting there arrived a large entourage from Delhi, including Madhu, Nity, Nishant, and Suroopa. Nishant and Madhu addressed the group with news from Delhi and developments in the plans for the next few days, which promise to be extremely busy with a packed schedule of events.
Water for trees along the Delhi-Agra tourist route, but none for those whose wells have been poisoned by Union Carbide
Vikas helping Gulab-bai
There is no clear line where Ballabgarh ends and Faridabad begins, and
our walk today was through an uninterrupted urban industrial
We are essentially already in greater Delhi — our journey from this point will be through an increasingly urban scene. The traffic is already completely different — crowded, clogged, and aggressive. There is suddenly very little room for us on the side of the road and many cars and motorcycles become very impatient, blasting their horns in our ears and tearing by us, missing us by hairs.
We eventually came upon a factory site of the Escorts company, where a
large group of people were awaiting our arrival for a public rally.
Union leader Kamail Singh made us welcome
Rashide speaking at the public rally
Click the small collage to open a larger view
Several people from national union Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Kamail Singh,
Union Leader, and Harish Khatri, team member, had organized the event
and provided us with a delicious meal of dal, rice, roti, spinach,
raita, and fresh onion.
That afternoon, a man driving by read one of our fliers and went and
bought a case of bottled water for the group. He ended up making
several trips back and forth to stores and the marchers to deliver
enough bottles for everyone who wanted or needed one.
A tired Amna
Chhoté Khan snatches forty winks
Halal inspects the hole in his shoe
After a long afternoon walking in the midst of impatient and heavy
traffic, we reached our destination, a dharmshala in a quiet
residential neighborhood in Faridabad. Members of Hind Mazdoor Sabha
generously provided us with another meal in the evening.
In the morning we will cover the last 15 kilometers between here and
our final destination in Delhi, where much is planned for the evening.
Older entries from beginning of the march
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