Road trips are always like this.
You suddenly notice something interesting and get down. It can be anything. A lovely landscape or a small water fall or life in rural india. We call these as "memorable moments" on the road.
We were driving through Jharkhand on our way home from Sikkim. The plan was to drive through Ranchi and reach Orissa for the night. The day had begun well when we left Bodh Gaya and the weather was perfect. We left foggy roads of Bihar and entered Jharkhand at Hazaribagh. To our luck, the road was not foggy as feared. After a tasty breakfast of Alu Parathas washed by excellent chai at the iconic Nanak Dhaba in Ramgarh, we headed towards Ranchi. Fantastic landscape with sal forests flanking the road, small water bodies reflecting the rays of the morning sun welcomed us.. Though, winter, the sun was getting scorcher.
Suddenly, we saw men pushing their bicycles with sacks of coal. Men in black. Men covered in coal dust, impoverished. Men bent over the handles of their bikes. Men whose livelihoods depended on the coal they carry and sell. As we continued the journey, we saw many of them doing this rigour along the road. It was tough as the road was full of gradient. They had to really struggle to push their bicycle over the uphill.
We got curious. This was winter. Weather was still bearable. What happens in Summer when the mercury soars in this region? How do these guys manage? We stopped the car and Poorna got down to talk to them and find out where they were taking these loads. To our shock, the man replied that they were carrying the coal all the way to Ranchi which was still 40 KMs away!! Walking, pushing the bicycle all the way for 40 KMs??
We felt bad for them.
P.S. When we were Googling for more details on these men, we happened to see this interesting articles. Click here to read.....
The Untold Coal Story of Coal pullers of Jharkhand
Coal Cycle Wallahs - A documentary by Sophie Gerrard
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Labels: road trip vignettes