Baroda by Bike

Perhaps my favorite part of my Gujarati weekend was an hours long bike ride I took with Dr. Verma. An avid cyclist, he arranged for me to borrow a friend’s bike and we headed off around 6:30 am. The ride took us through the outskirts of town, weaving through cars, people, cows, rickshaws, stray dogs and motorcycles. After about 30 min, however, we ended up on a stunning road through several tiny rural villages. It was a perfect way to see the countryside. There is something fascinating about seeing these small, tarp covered homes. I was pondering why they drew my eye more than, say, an impressive concretehouse in the city and I theorized that it’s because the domesticity of these dwellings was much more in your face. We drove by people cooking, giving a bath to (an adorable) baby, brushing their teeth in a drainpipe, drinking tea at one of the innumerable chai stalls, praying, eating etc. Even moving at a decent clip on our bikes- it still felt like a strangely intimate experience.


And when we did stop, everyone was incredibly friendly. First we took a break to see some buffalo being milked because duh. The family who owned them immediately started speaking in Gujarti to Dr. Verma and insisted that we try some fresh milk. I watched the woman of the house clean the tin cup with her sari and did some quick gastrointestinal risk calculations (which, if you’ll excuse some foreshadowing, may have been sorely misguided) and decided that of course I need to at least try a sip. It was rich, creamy and more like a milkshake than anything that we call milk.

Along the way there was lots of flora and fauna to be seen above and beyond the usual multitude of cows and dogs: monkeys, wild peacocks (!) and colorful parakeets were the highlight but we also saw lots of other big birds (my father, a bird enthusiast, will be appalled but not at all surprised to see me reveal my avian ignorance. Dad, some looked like egrets or ibises or cranes or something? Best I can do). Let’s also not forget the veritable zoo of insects that wedged themselves into my eyes/mouth as we pedaled (it’s just like home!) or the two dead snakes we saw. 

But the real treasure of this ride was simply the lush, green countryside- dotted with farms, banyon trees and incredible foliage. Throughout our journey Dr. Verma (who is almost 30 years my senior) was, of course, riding circles around me- that man has some serious stamina! He was fresh as a daisy after almost 4 hours of riding. Luckily I am used to people double my age smoking me on the running path at home so my ego wasn’t even dented. I am so grateful that he let me tag along and see his beautiful state in this unique way. Image



5 thoughts on “Baroda by Bike

  1. Whoa, your adventures are awesome! I’m also interested in global health — are you spending your summer in India volunteering/doing research? I’d love to take part in an experience like this one day.

  2. Dear hayley,
    This blog was read to me earlier today by Arline as Bob and she were driving me up to a barbecue at the Feldman’s.. Emily Feldman was with us too. The party at the house included Max F., the James Katz family, including Jake and 5 month- old Lucas, and Peter and Alice Berglas. Very hot day – about 94 – but I know that’s nothing for you! Anyway, it was cool in the house and we emerged for dessert when it had cooled off a bit. Lovely to spend time with them all.

  3. Pingback: Down for the count | hayley on the go

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