REFLECTIONS OF INDIA - TRIBALS
January 17, 2007 - north toward Umri
TRIBES OF PEOPLE. All along the 2,000-mile bicycle ride from the southern tip of India to New Delhi, mostly along NH 7, we encountered tribal people. Most of India, both rural and urban, is oriented to tribal identities. Some tribal groups maintain ancient ways of living. A few tribal groups continue to be nomadic or migrant. We encountered this group of people residing in stalk huts one day north of Hyderabad. The juxtaposition of tribal life in and near modern cities is mind-stretching and heart-grabbing.
AN EFFERVESCENT FEAST. I wrote this in my journal last year: "What our eyes see as we pedal along an Indian highway: A man follows a plow pulled by oxen. Women plant rice fields in calf-deep mud and water. Traffic slows for a herd of cattle being driven down the road. A flock of goats forage by the road, several with their front feet on the trunk of a tree while they reach for tender leaves. School children in uniform wait for their transportation beside the road, smiling, waving, and calling out to us. Men on motorcycles and in auto-rickshaws slow down to ask about us. A caravan of oxcarts with sugar cane piled high creates a challenge for steering your bike as you approach them from behind. There’s an ancient fort on the right. See that little Hindu shrine over there? Monkeys play along the side of the road. And this is just the countryside; India’s cities and towns are even more interesting. India by bicycle is an effervescent feast for the senses and an artesian well for the heart."