Our last update was from Bangladesh. That was almost 12 months back. Since then, we let the blog slide. Of course we could trot out numerous excuses for the lapse in online communication. Limited internet access. A full-on cycling schedule. Focus on other projects. The truth is we just needed a break from blogging.
Now we’re back, and more enthusiastic than ever about sharing tales from our travels. Before we delve into 2016 (we’re in the Middle East at the moment) we’ll catch you up on 2015.
After Bangladesh, we rolled back over the border into India. West Bengal to be exact. The first thing that struck me was the return of the female population to public life.
Bangladesh is a man’s world. Women are home minding children and looking after their husbands. The fairer sex occasionally ventures out for shopping or to accompany kids to and from school, but that’s about it. Women are rarely shopkeepers or restaurant staff and you certainly don’t see them working in hotels.
Just seeing normal women going about their daily lives lifted my spirits. I waved to gaggles of girls in crisp uniforms as they pedaled to school and chatted with women in colorful saris as we sifted through cauliflower and eggplants at the local market. Suddenly I felt like I belonged.
What’s even more surprising is that India seemed so calm, clean and green. At least in the Himalayan foothills of Sikkim and West Bengal where we were cycling.
Rubbish was placed in waste containers rather than strewn thoughtlessly by the side of the road. Nobody stopped to stare or crowd around to get a better view of the crazy foreigners on bikes. And the landscape was lush and beautiful with few scars of ramshackle development that mar so much of modern India.
We could bike in bliss, heaving ourselves up the impossibly steep climbs. Well, maybe it wasn’t total bliss. But Sikkim was fun.