Monday, February 4, 2008

February 4, 2007 - transition day in Gwalior

GETTING READY FOR OUR LAST LEG. This day one year ago was a Sunday and a transition day into our final week of a 2,000-mile bicycle ride from the southern tip of India to New Delhi. The last leg of our journey would take us to Agra, where we would spend a day touring the Taj Mahal and Red Fort, and then two days of riding on to New Delhi. We would pass through territory where the "Bandit Queen" (India's version of Robin Hood) would run raids on freight trucks. We would enjoy the company of a hearty team of riders from Mumbai (formerly Bombay). We would encounter frighteningly thick fog on the ride toward New Delhi. And we would finally celebrate in the heart of India's incredible capitol.

POWER OF COWPIES. All along our journey, we had to swerve to avoid cowpies. Cattle, sacred in Hindu religion, roam freely or are harnessed for work. They are also the source of India's milk. Cow and water buffalo manure is collected, shaped into saucer-like pies, dried in the sun, and artfully stacked for later use in cooking or heating (as in the photo). Cowpies are also used as plaster to reinforce huts and serve doubly to keep insects away. Of course, the smell of burning cowpies serves up a distinct aroma wherever it is being burned. But it IS a biofuel...and cheap. No doubt, more uses of animal waste for energy will figure significantly in the future of energy-hungry, green-sensitive economies.

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