In the morning, we gathered to discuss logistics of the yatra as well as the principles we were setting forth with. We were nineteen of us, sixteen from the Swaraj community and three more friends. One of them, Ramji, had gone on many such Cycle Yatras before and hence had some knowledge of the area as well as previous experience. He asked us to think of all the ‘challenges’ we were to take on this particular yatra. No money and no technology were a given, but I was unwilling to not take any medicines. Even though I didn’t have any medical conditions that needed special treatment/medicines, I still volunteered to carry, for safety purposes, antiseptic cream, anti-allergic pills and an antibacterial ointment. I’m pretty sure people were quite anti-me by now, but I felt I was pushing my limits too much already, and having dealt with an allergic rash right the day before my last birthday, I didn’t want history to repeat itself and another birthday spent with itchy hives and tears. I promised myself that I would use them as the absolutely last resort. The other challenge we took up was not to take watches and a framework of ‘time’ with us. One chap in the group, known for his quirkiness, decided to keep a no-sound ‘maun vrat’ for the entire yatra. He wouldn’t talk, and would only communicate through gestures and writing.
The rest of the day was spent running around organizing cycles and a basic cycle-repairing kit. I wasn’t finding a cycle matching my height (the low, ladies’ type of cycles were the only kind I could properly ride) and hence was getting quite negative and stressed. That night too, we had to sleep on the cold marble floor with only our sleeping bags so as to get accustomed for the coming nights. As I unrolled my sleeping bag, I realized it did not have a zip, and hence couldn’t be properly wrapped around oneself to generate enough warmth. More angst ensured. Somewhere long after midnight, after tossing and turning for goodness knows how many hours, I promised my sleepy self that I would NOT go for the yatra the next morning and instead go sleep on a warm bed.