A four-member team from India aims to start a journey to honour and connect withpeacemakers working to bring positive change in eight nations. First stop: Pakistan
By Nitesh Square
The motorbike trip we are planning to undertake from Mumbai to Paris next month was sparked off by a discussion in the mountains of Sandakphu, West Bengal in September 2011. I had joined a group of friends doing a 110-mile Himalaya race there, and two of them, Priya Darshini and Ram Sethnu, mentioned that they were also planning to do the Hippie Trail Hitchhiking from France to Goa. I wasn't interested in the hitchhiking part of it but the idea of an overland journey on that route sounded very appealing.
A week later, I was back in Mumbai and started my research on road routes between India and France. That's when the idea of connecting peace with this motorbike emerged. Over the past six years, I have been working with a couple of groups engaged in spreading awareness regarding peace through the medium of films and peace festivals in different parts of India. It struck me that along our journey we could collect unpublished stories related to non-violence, peace, change and inspirational people. A hundred such short stories would end up in a photo book.
Parth Vasavada, a friend from Ahmedabad, India, asked to join me. How could I refuse?
Parth, the Founding Member-President of Yuva Unstoppable and Founder of Youth Recruitment Programme, represents the true inspirational face of the Indian youth. He is an avid cyclist, food lover and traveller. He loves watching movies, reading - books are his oxygen - and doing anonymous acts of kindness. (Twitter: @ParthVasavada).
It was Parth who suggested this name for our journey - 'De Paix Yatra'. De Paix means Peace in French. The concept of De Paix Yatra is based on the idea of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one family). Soon we realized it was not going to be an easy task to travel in countries where we do not know anyone. We had lots of groundwork to do, to ensure that we were not going to hurt anyone's sentiments while experiencing different cultures.
At one point, we decided to end our journey in England, and make this into a motorbike trip for peace from Mumbai to London. It would take about 65 days, and we would stop at more than 50 cities in eight nations, and cover around 13,000 kilometres on our motorbikes. We also decided to record our journey in video cameras and make a mini-series of short films, documentaries on peace and change.
The Mumbai-based actor and model Debi Dutta agreed to accompany us on our journey for this purpose, in order to 'anchor' our video footage. Born in Kolkata, she started her acting career in the Yash Raj film Rocket Singh and has been the brand face for Close Up besides featuring in commercials. This is the first time she has been part of such a movement and is looking forward to this extraordinary journey (Twitter @LoveDebiDutta).
The fourth person is Megha Rawat, a peace consultant, with a Masters in Conflict Transformation and Peace Building who is currently completing her Masters in Sociology. She started her work as a peace educator with Standing Together to Enable Peace, New Delhi, and aims to take Peace Education to every classroom. (Twitter: @RawatM).
Parth and I will ride on our motorbikes, while Debi and Megha will be in an accompanying car driven by a local driver - we will rent cars or hire taxis locally in each country.
We have been working on the idea and writing to companies for funding, as well as promoting our idea and mission via social media tools like Twitter and Facebook.
We were amazed at the positive and quick responses we got from people and specially media, local student groups and artists from Pakistan.
The famous singer Ali Azmat messaged us on twitter - @RealAliAzmat: @NiteshNitesh I'm a member of Lahore bikers club we would love to assist you in any manner except the permissions to pass through". He also said his bikers would accompany us on part of our journey.
Several local people from Lahore contacted us offering to help organise an event with children and putting us in touch with others. Advocate High Court Usman Ghazi, a friend of a friend, is helping us organising the trip in Pakistan and guiding us about legal issues.
We've also received emails from young Pakistanis who are willing to organise events when we arrive in their cities. Frankly, our De Paix Yatra team is amazed and happy to see the response from Pakistan. If all the visas come through on time, we hope to leave in March and reach London in May this year.
The writer is an artisticphotographer, filmmaker, jounalist, and peacemaker based in
De Paix Yatra: In brief
De Paix Yatra aims to honour and connect with the doers and peacemakers who are working to bring positive change in eight nations. We will link these nations with our ideology of peace, non-violence and kindness. We hope our journey will make an impact and help the youth to be the change and to lead the change.
Nations: * India * Pakistan * Iran * Turkey * Greece * Italy * France * England
De Paix Yatra: * Demands a just peace * Aims to connect everyone, from politicians to the grassroots trendsetters who promote peace, to ordinary people who are seeking reformation * Aims to promote a world of love, peace, unity and justice. * It is important because peace is important.
The way forward: * A book of the collected stories will be published. * The journey and experiences will be documented in form of short film. * Extraordinary efforts to connect 8 nations with Peace, Kindness, and nonviolence to be made via music shows, organizing Peace talks and kindness shows. * Unique initiative - Letters of love will be launched with this Yatra.
Main cities we are going to pass through: * Bombay (India) * Baroda * Ahmedabad * Udaipur * Ajmer * Jaipur * New Delhi * Chandigarh * Amritsar * Lahore (Pakistan) via Wagah border * Okara * Multan * Bahawalpur * Sukkur * Quetta * Dalbandin * Zahedan (Iran) via Mijva border * Bam * Kerman * Yazd * Isfahan * Qom * Tehran * Qazvin - Meyaneh * Tabriz * Dogubeyazit (Turkey) via Bazergan * Erzurum * Erzincan * Turhal * Corum * Ankara * Bolu * Istanbul * Corlu * Kesan * Kavala (Greece) * via Ipsala * Thessaloniki * Mount Olympos * Meteora * Lamia * Athens * Patras to Bari (Italy) via Ferry * Naples * Rome * Areezo * Bologna * Milan * Annecy (France) * Djjon * Paris * Calais * Dover (England) * London
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
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