After a superb dinner of pandi curry and mutton which, after a deep sleep in cool Coorg, felt like it was swiftly followed by a delicious breakfast, we drove to the morning’s start point/last night’s stopping point to start the day’s walk. Heather and I had arrived the previous afternoon, travelling by Volvo bus from Bangalore to support Push in his walk and be a part of the climate justice action in Coorg.
The start was marked with the arrival of the KGF car with various members and a quickly dumping of our bags in one of the vehicles which had a big walk banner on its side! The walk was exhilarating, invigorating, rejuvenating and more! The air was so fresh it was almost delicious, with pepper and coffee plants on either side of the road and the cool wind on our faces, there could never be a more pleasing picture. Push being an extremely fast walker made some of us jog to keep up and in no time we reached Murnad where Push was welcomed like a hero.
A traditional Coorg reception awaited with great pomp and fireworks, a loud band and over 300 children gathered to listen to Pushpanath Krishnamurthy. He spoke to everyone stressing on the the climate issue, what global warming is doing to the coffee plants in the region of South India, India’s role at COP 17 in Durban and what had been happening at Durban itself, shouting slogans of ‘Chalo Durban’ resounded on the quiet lanes of Coorg bringing curious onlookers to witness the event, very quickly everyone was ready to move on and Push lead the march to the next town.
KGF members continued arriving in numbers, talking to all of us about the problems in their plantations, labour issues and even how wildlife like elephants are affecting and playing havoc on their paddy fields. They speak greatly of Push, admiring his stamina, courage and belief. Some of them have walked the entire 250 km with him, showing support from day one, everyone was showing great spirit and little exhaustion.
The people of Coorg are deeply troubled by the increase in temperature and unnatural amounts of rainfall in the region. We heard often that there are new and inconsistent weather patterns affecting the region, until 2-3 years ago the plantations were fine, but with rainfall in November December harvest numbers are low and the risk of disease is great.
An organic planter pointed out that ‘The government needs to allow more varieties of trees to be grown, this enhances the diversity and yield of our crops’
From Murnad we reached another small town called Votinagandhi where Push was again garlanded, greeted by school children & teachers and addressed the crowd. Members of KGF spoke to the people and students about Push’s initiative, the coffee problems and the weather issues faced by rain and where their journey is headed next. Push addressed the women, many of whom are wives of KGF members, about the impact on poor women in the world due to climate issues and the importance of women participation in solutions. ‘Coffee is the second highest traded commodity after fossil fuel, imagine a world with no coffee’ he says.
With kilometres left to go to reach Gonikappal (the last stop of the day), we stopped for lunch, Push wolfed down his meal which is a delicious wild mango curry, chicken and rice and is back on the road not waiting for those still finishing their meal. His mission is to complete his walk bang on time.
Go Push Go!
Kavya Chandra – Kavya is CSM’s Media and Communication’s Officer and joined push on the walk on Weds 7th December.