TODAY -

Cycling around the world, evolving, learning : Going Loco

Fraser James Edward Baillie *

Manipur Cycle Club (MCC) 1st Foundation Day on 23rd january, 2012
Manipur Cycle Club (MCC) 1st Foundation Day on 23rd january, 2012 :: Pix - Tiken Thockchom



On the way up to Kohima.

Cycling through north east India was a very different experience to that of central India. The region was connected to the mainland by a slither of land between Nepal and Bangladesh just fourteen miles wide. Separated into nine different states, each one with it's own government and unique personality, many of which shared a common quest for independence from the presiding rule of the central Indian government. The conflicting political views had been a long standing source of social agitation dating back centuries. The history gleamed from conversations with locals along the way painted a sketchy picture, but somewhere along the line the source of the problems seemed to stem from when India claimed the region as it's own.

Protests over local issues being controlled by central government are regular and ongoing. On reaching Kohima, Nagaland, I read in the local Nagaland newspaper of multiple deaths sustained at a recent protest when the Indian authorities opened fire to maintain control. Which goes someway to explaining why a police escort was deemed necessary for my safe passage.

I later found out that the city of Kohima was indeed the battleground for an almighty face off where the combined forces of Britain and India eventually defeated the Japanese during the second world war. Along the road read signs of the number of fallen soldiers and memorial sites.

The rain persisted for most of the next day between Kohima and Senapati, where I was picked up by the Manipur CID (Central Intelligence Department?). There was an ongoing road ban preventing vehicles from entering the state of Manipur, however, I had somehow managed to slip through the state border uninhibited. Then began a farcical conversation intimating I would not be able to continue without a stamp in my passport from the border Police, and suggestions I would need to return (up a twenty mile descent) to receive it. Their argument that the stamp was required 'for my safety' was hilarious. I imagined being accosted by conscientious extremists, first checking my passport for a stamp from the border Police, before kidnapping me! In the end it was agreed I would visit the CID office in Imphal instead.

Imphal is the capital of Manipur state and to my surprise was deserted on arrival, save for the hoards of police and army personnel stationed at every junction, it was like cycling into a ghost town. A one day trade ban was in place, the purpose of which was to control, prevent, or stop the issuing of Inner Line Permits (ILPs), which allow people from outside of the state to enter from central India, and the surrounding countries. The manipuri people were concerned that their demographic was being diluted in a detrimental way by people migrating from outside of the state.

When I woke the next morning the contrast in atmosphere could not have been greater, it was like waking up in a different city. The noise, the traffic, the people, the businesses oozed out of every nook and cranny like ants evacuating a nest. Foot space was now at a premium as I was swept up like a tasty morsel on a conveyor belt of people. My destination was unknown, but I did rather hope to pass a bike shop.

I was taken to local villages where they produced wine known locally as 'yoo.' Made by fermenting rice with water it was distilled in a way similar to that of hard spirits like vodka, and tasted a bit like Saki with similar alcohol content too! Every producing family has it's own unique process and the result is differing strengths and flavours. I learnt of a particularly strong variety which included sugary tree bark that makes you 'crazy in the head.' The normal fermentation process produces alcohol, by adding sugar, in the form of tree bark, the alcohol content escalates to 'crazy in the head' levels. After drink 'yoo' I had great trouble concentrating, seeing and standing up straight. (Manipur is a dry state I might add, but the wettest dry state I have ever visited.)

I attended the weekly Pedal Attack meeting to learn about how they were working to encourage cycling in the city, to share my own journey, and thoughts about how they could develop as a club. I was also invited into the home of Citesh to eat beautiful food prepared by his wife. I later attended a religious ceremony to remember the dead held at Rajiv's home where I stayed the last night. It was a truly memorable few days which really drilled home to me the importance of meeting local people along the way. It did make me wonder how my experience of the rest of India may have been different had this been my first. Fortunately, the rest of the world beckons where the lesson learnt meeting the formidable people of Pedal Attack can be enjoyed.

Citesh, Rajiv, Raggie, Nelson, Reagan, Rocky, Sandip, Syles, Gomi, Rakesh, Nutan, Kunan and everyone else at Pedal Attack I salute you! Keep doing what you're doing and the change you want to see will happen.

Leaving Rajiv's home, where I had experienced such wonderful hospitality and curiosity, I cycled up through the heat and humidity into multiple Police and Army checks, never before had it been so difficult to leave a country. The closer to the border with Myanmar I cycled the greater the number of checks.

That pretty much sums India up, there was so much to learn and love, yet so much to frustrate and hate. Of the countries visited so far India has been the most challenging mentally and physically. Until I reached Myanmar, more on that next time...


* Fraser James Edward Baillie wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is an alumnus of Warwick College & Institute of Financial Studies, London, the writer had worked with Rover Group, banking at Lions & Leicester & Hbos bank of Scotland, Abbey National & Mueller Hondas. Hailing from Leicester, United Kingdom, he presently works in an NGO called Room to Read that is involved with educational projects. You can read his interesting experiences in his blog called CycleHacker. He can be reached at fraserbaillie(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on October 05, 2014.


* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Ibudhou Cheng Hongba #1 : Gallery
  • Violence in Manipur 2023-2024 : Timeline
  • Kind attention 'Your Lordship' CJ of India
  • 'Opposition-less Govt in Nagaland is rhetoric'
  • Xorai - Assam's cultural symbol
  • Natural ways to lighten dark underarms
  • Is Delhi doing the right thing ?
  • Set the priorities right
  • Ima Keithel flood- May 30 #3 : Gallery
  • Modi's arduous journey & fate of Naga peace
  • Indo-Naga Talks (From 2012) :: Timeline
  • Autism: Why fit in, when you can stand out?
  • Bloodstained Masquerade :: Poem
  • Dharamvir Singh: Forgotten hero of TV
  • What is keeping the clash going on ?
  • Warning of a coming politico-military storm
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #6
  • The Great June 18 Uprising : Timeline
  • The Great June 18 Uprising : Gallery
  • Are we on track to end AIDS by 2030 ?
  • 3 writers from Manipur for Sahitya Akademi
  • Manipur's traffic, parking: A big nuisance
  • Career in elderly care
  • Keeping the folks under a state of confusion
  • Nothing neat about NEET
  • Aid to relief camps @ Jiribam : Gallery
  • Id Festival- 'Id-Ul-Azha' :: Book
  • World Day to Combat Desertification 2024
  • NDPP did not lose LS due to local problem
  • RSS chief says, priority Manipur
  • What if not IIT ?
  • Waiting for a response from the PM
  • The test of leadership failed
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #35: Download
  • Gastronomy tourism in Manipur : Gallery
  • Triathlon : Manipur bag 6 medals (3 gold)
  • Illegal immigrants/fugitives from Myanmar
  • Eid-ul-Adha: Embracing sacrifice
  • A solution to Meitei-Kuki-Zo conflict
  • The Power of Poppy - 35 :: Poem
  • Scientist of Manipur: R K Brojen Singh
  • Brief sketch on General Balaram Sougaijamba
  • Non-violent for peaceful, mutual co-existence
  • Homeless person ..alcoholism & defeated TB
  • Cancer on rise among young adults
  • Defending, fighting for Idea of Manipur
  • From partiality to complicity
  • Bike Rally - Sekmai to Kangla : Gallery
  • 'Modi must announce finality of Naga pacts'
  • Gliding over Brahmaputra
  • Question leaks cause stress among student
  • Home remedies for prickly heat
  • After IIT, AIIMS it is now IIM
  • Stealing spotlight from Manipur crisis
  • Tarpon chaklen katpa @ Andro #2 : Gallery
  • Strongly condemns violence in Jiribam
  • Lessons from outcome of LS election
  • Tumcho releases "Goodness of God"
  • Right diagnostic for antimicrobial resistance
  • 12th June is World Day against Child Labour
  • Hands of geo-politics ?
  • The row over NEET-2014
  • 2nd Annual Art Exhibition #1 : Gallery
  • Chilli Chicken: Film Spotlighting NE in B'lore
  • Committee of Narcotics Anonymous - Imphal
  • The Power of Meditation
  • Oceans as a career choice
  • Getting more and more audacious
  • A test of leadership
  • Education Fair @Imphal #2 : Gallery
  • Gifting two seats to Cong
  • Voters empowered democracy
  • Postcards from Meghalaya premieres
  • Milk : Essential nutrient for a healthy body
  • Failing in competitive exam not end of world
  • Delhi : A mere spectator
  • Abandoning Jiribam
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #5
  • Ima Keithel flood- May 30 #2 : Gallery
  • Mainstream in Shoes of Alternative
  • Protect the medicines that protect us
  • Lets take action for our land & our future
  • Democracy and independent media
  • Agenda at work to shut Western Gate
  • Keeping Manipur on the boil
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #34: Download
  • The Enigmatic Journey of 'Laikhutshangbi'
  • Individual and the Social
  • An Ardent Appeal to All Concerns
  • Condemnation of Attack & Govt Inaction
  • The Power of Poppy - 34 :: Poem
  • Scientist of Manipur: Laishram Shanta
  • Alien fishes spotted in Manipur's rivers
  • Training on mushroom at Langthabal
  • Digital avatars or deepfakes ?
  • 7th June is the World Food Safety Day
  • How to prepare for UPSC after 10th ?
  • The Jiri violence
  • Beginning of a new vote culture ?
  • Bimol Akoijam (Cong) wins Inner PC : Gallery
  • BJP, NPF & other NDA pay heavy price
  • Nature is one of greatest blessings of God
  • Plantation drive in Tripura, Assam & Manipur
  • Summer beauty
  • Environment conservation & over-exploitation
  • Is Modi cut out for leading a coalition ?
  • 'Ishanou' Selection @ Cannes #2: Gallery
  • Scholarship for Johnstone Hr Sec students
  • 1st foundation day of Interfaith Forum
  • World Environment Day: Our land, our future
  • Indonesia stronger anti-tobacco measures
  • Navigating a fragile Myanmar: India's policy
  • New breed entering electoral politics
  • The road to formation of new govt
  • International Dance Day #1 : Gallery
  • Matchbox marketing mantra
  • Stop harming nature :: Poem
  • Saving for oneself & the Nation
  • Model United Nations (MUN) conducted
  • Tobacco: Threat to health & environment
  • Candidate from ruling party biting the dust
  • The verdict
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #4
  • Imphal valley districts flooded #3 : Gallery
  • Navigating Remal amidst Manipur conflict
  • We are #GenerationRestoration
  • Intl Day of Innocent Children Victims
  • Apparel Industry Skills & Innovation CoE
  • What's in a cyclone's name ?
  • Ongoing clash, the floods, the losses
  • Exit poll predictions
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #33: Download
  • Evading flood & rethinking urbanization
  • Manipur Flood: Health Advisory
  • Onus on civil bodies to ensure NNPG unity
  • Rats also cause flood
  • Benefits of JEE Main mock tests
  • People have spoken, now the results
  • The fury of Remal
  • Ima Keithel flood- May 30 #1 : Gallery
  • The flood in our Stars
  • The Power of Poppy - 33 :: Poem
  • 'Group of people misrepresented themselves'
  • EV industry and career options
  • Scientist of Manipur: Chandrakant Aribam
  • Candy flavoured traps to hook next Gen
  • Commemorate Naga Plesbicite Day 1951 #2
  • Tobacco affects health & environment too
  • Jio extend validity for Customer in Manipur
  • Students must learn about AI irrespective
  • As vote count day approaches : Floods
  • Imphal valley districts flooded #2 : Gallery
  • Flooded : Sacrifice of Yairipok's Maiden
  • World No Tobacco Day 2024
  • Chandam Rishikanta wins NPC Nat'l C'ship
  • Flood: Helpline numbers for emergency
  • Battling body odour ?
  • Floods : Not entirely natural phenomena
  • PM Modi's purpose
  • Imphal valley districts flooded #1 : Gallery
  • June Calendar for Year 2024 : Tools
  • Flood: Control Rooms & Helpline numbers
  • Economic impact of ongoing conflict
  • Army Recruitment Rally for Manipur
  • Cut deficit, boom likely
  • Are Gods angry ? Wake up call for Manipur
  • Beating of the Retreat #2 : Gallery
  • We did Overcome: Mayhem of Month of May
  • Training on mushroom at Potshagbam
  • Famous female Mathematicians in India
  • Disinformation campaign thengnare
  • Human trafficking puts humanity to shame
  • Sky opens up in all its fury
  • Licypriya meets Italy PM & Pope Francis
  • HSLC (Class X) 2024 : Full Result
  • HSLC 2024 : Important Info & Grading System
  • HSLC 2024 : Pass % : Private Schools
  • HSLC 2024 : Pass % : Aided Schools
  • HSLC 2024 : Pass % : Govt Schools
  • HSLC 2024 : Statistical Abstract
  • HSLC 2024 : Comparative Statement
  • Combined Defence Services Exam 2024
  • Good show in Class X exams
  • Downplaying the crisis
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #3
  • Reviving Lamphelpat : Conservation : Gallery
  • Commemorate Naga Plesbicite Day 1951 #1
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Hojai
  • The Power of Poppy - 32 :: Poem
  • Insights from CUET-UG Counselling
  • International Day for Biological Diversity
  • Unseen force at work: Time to unravel it
  • Sheikh Hasina's revelation
  • The Vanishing Meitei Tribe
  • Building career in defence & strategic study
  • Why example of model code of conduct ?
  • Ownership of responsibility
  • Will pressure mount on key players in NE
  • How to save your foot after an accident
  • Children Camp @JNMDA Imphal #3 : Gallery
  • Education Fair @Imphal #1 : Gallery
  • Project Associate @ CSE, Assam Univ
  • Understanding schizophrenia
  • Advancement in Multi Objective Optimization
  • When will women in voter list increase ?
  • Making 2 plus 2 is equal to 5
  • Changing face of drug menace
  • Scientist of Manipur: Jayanta Manoharmayum
  • 25 yrs since Atal Vajpayee visit to RIMS
  • 4 Lakhs donated to support (L) Maipak Family
  • Clarification: Guwahati Meet on Humanitarian
  • Start UPSC prep after 12th for success
  • Tips to avoid melting makeup in summer
  • Giving a big solid push to ST demand
  • Time to come clean
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba: 1 occasion, 2 narratives #3
  • Khongjom Day @Khebaching #2 : Gallery
  • 'Ishanou' Selection @ Cannes #1: Gallery
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #2
  • Scientist of Manipur: Amom Ruhikanta
  • Preserving Thang-Ta :: Rare Photos
  • Regarding Human Rights Situation in Manipur
  • Malemnganbi Laishram : Science Topper
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2024 #2: Gallery
  • Thokchom Sheityajit : Arts Topper
  • Aiena Naorem : Commerce Topper
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024 : Science Topper
  • HSE 2024 : Subject Pass Percentage
  • HSE 2024 : District Pass Percentage
  • HSE 2024 : Candidates with Highest Marks
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024: Science Full Result
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024: Arts Full Result
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024: Commerce Result
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024 : Arts Topper
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024 : Commerce Topper
  • Aftermath of ferocious hailstorm #1 : Gallery
  • Radio E-pao: Manipuri Film OST (130+ song)
  • Nupi Landa Thaunaphabishing : Full Book
  • A ferocious hailstorm @Imphal : Gallery
  • '365 Days of Chin-Kuki Aggression' : Gallery
  • National Science Teacher workshop
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba Chak Katpa #2 : Gallery
  • Scientists of Manipur : Ngangkham Nimai
  • GHOST of PEACE :: Download Booklet
  • List of Kings of Manipur: 33 - 1984 AD