Walk of Hope walked towards Halaga from M K Hubli, after leaving at the usual time of 5.30 am. They were transported from their place of stay to the commencing point. They walked a distance of 21 kms today on the Pune-Bangalore highway.
The Yatra passed through small villages like Bagewadi, Hulikatti and Kamakarahatti. Bagewadi is at the center of many agricultural villages and has many small industries. The famous Vishwa Sugar Industries located in this region gives employment to thousands of people. The padayatra took a halt for breakfast in the vicinity of Hire Bagewadi on an open field, very close to the ‘toll naka’, a road-tax collection point.
The padayatris moved slowly thereafter, partly, because of the breakfast and also because the terrain has been changing. Today, the roads were as if a silken cloth had been crumpled; with each peak we ascended, the next one seemed to emerge. They slowly made their way up. The heavens were extraordinarily calm today after the torrential hailstorm and the sky was many shades of calico and azure with a few wispy clouds. Much to everyone’s delight, a cool breeze comforted the tired walker through the day.
Today, the yatris met a group of young cyclists on their way to Belgaum.They stopped and inquired about what was happening and then joined them for a distance, leading the procession on their bicycles. All of them must have been 17 years old or younger and happily posed for the camera along with the walkers. Apart from this group, the yatris did not come across many people today - only an odd person standing here and there by the road or working on a field, looking on curiously. As they continued walking on the National Highway # 4, other state highways have converged at this point, and the traffic of automobiles has noticeably increased.
Continuing with the practice of introduction to the special characteristics of the padayatris, one’s attention is drawn to the person who has been given the responsibility of Sri M’s security. Known by his initials, JC is a very popular figure on the walk. On the job, he is stern, forbidding and unyielding and stands as a quiet sentinel by the side of Sri M. However, off the job, he is friendly and is almost always found laughing with fellow walkers. He considers himself to be a cricketer, he can play reasonably well, but his forte is endless views about the many rules of Gully Cricket. While walking with Sri M, he warns of obstacles in front of the padayatris. The word ‘hump’ is used by him to draw attention to any obstacle that may emerge on the path - be it a speed breaker, a pothole, a branch or even a bike!
There was no satsang or evening event today and, on reaching Bharatesh hospital, the padayatris had ample time on their hands. The Gopal Jinagouda Bharatesh Hospital is part of the Bharatesh Education Trust of Belgaum. The trust was started in 1962 by a group of young entrepreneurs. It has since grown to over 18 educational institutions. It also runs a rural hospital for the underprivileged. Over 6000 students avail of the quality education imparted at its institutions.
In spite of having walked 21 kilometers by early noon, the walkers found their strength replenished because there were no activities scheduled in the afternoon. With time on their hands and not being too close to any place of interest to visit, they found ways to keep themselves engaged in novel ways - a walker organized twenty umbrellas for others and distributed them to whosoever wanted them. Yet another organized many white shirts for men and distributed these!
Some others watched the setting sun and the play of changing colors; from blue to red to black, one shade at a time. With such sights, no effort was required to meditate; seeing the beauty of the sunset is meditation in itself, it brings one to the quietness within. In a city, one cannot witness a sunset the way it has been made possible for the padayatris because of the uncluttered vast places.
Today’s dinner was special. There was roti and dal, accompanied by fried paneer cutlets. For a padayatri on the road for four months – this is a delectable spread! It is a break from the routine staple rice. But then, many a walker has had it good on the Hubli-Dharwad trucking corridor—where simple, rustic food is available at minimal cost!