Fulbright Scholars from US, solo biker from Cuttack join 85th Ekamra Walks

Bhubaneswar: Two Fulbright Scholars from USA and one solo biker from Cuttack with a record of having nearly 100 solo bike rides across the country were among the 30 visitors at the 85th Ekamra Walks in the Old Town Circuit this morning.
The two Fulbright Scholars from USA Brenda Vasguez from California and Jonathan Brodie from Virginia are currently with the city-based Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), the one and only tribal university of the nation and perhaps the biggest in the entire world, and teaching English literature to the students of KISS.
“I will stay here at KISS for nine months and this is my first visit to Odisha, but today’s experience in Ekamra Walks was extraordinary and really enjoyed the company of other walkers to know the rich tradition, cultural ways and the unique Kalingan temple architecture,’’ said Brenda.
Jonathan termed today’s experience of Ekamra Walks as “extraordinary.’’ “This is my first visit to India and also to Odisha, but I really enjoy my time here and will try to join more heritage walks during my stay here as the city is also having some other walks as I was informed.’’
Monika Setia, Regional Manager with the US-India Education Foundation, with the US Consulate in Hyderabad, said today’s experience after the Ekamra Walks in Old Bhubaneswar area was “spiritually enlightening.’’
Monika was of the view that the heritage walk in real terms reflects the charm of the old world and the ancient Orissan art and architectural aspects in a nice way before the walkers, who are from different corners of India and world.
Sajal Sheth from Cuttack also came to the 85th Ekamra Walks with his friend Hitesh Seth and two others from the Millennium City. However, Sajal, who came on his Pulsar 200NS has a nice story with his bike as he is having a numbers of solo rides with his dream machine across India and also to unexplored destinations across the State.
Not only riding solo on his Pulsar 200NS, or with his friends for their group called “xBhp’’, but Sajal also has a message to deliver as he has made rides with a educative line like “Educate Girl Child’’ on the flag attached to the bike. In fact, in March 2018 this year he went to Jaipur in Rajasthan where his younger daughter Neha is studying covering a distance of 3,630 km on his bike from Cuttack. “I went and met my little daughter, but the message was so powerful that the event was covered by 12 local newspapers in Jaipur,’’ he says with pride.
Sajal’s long and solo rides were many, but his first one was in 2013, in which he went to Manipal in Karnataka to meet his elder daughter Isha, who was a student of Manipal University. “I covered 3,865 km during that trip, but after that I gained more confidence and even took solo rides to many places including one to Ladakh and other places as well. I have also travelled to the highest place in Odisha like Deomali, which is 5,465 feet above the mean sea level and Mahendragiri (4,900 feet),’’ he added.
Sajal, through his bike and the group “xBhp’’ is promoting many unexplored destinations of Odisha, which are even unknown to the locals in many places. “We have constantly trying to make the new destinations added to our list. On August we are also having a new place on our radar to be explored on August 15, but not disclosing it to the public before the expedition starts. We are heading to a place near Keonjhar, which is more than 200 km from the State Capital,’’ he added.
After the morning Ekamra Walks in the Old Town Circuit, the 8th Museum Walk today during afternoon drew 50 participants. The participants from different parts of the nation visited the galleries on terracotta, traditional painting, wood carving, stone carving and temple building, metal crafts of bell, brass, dokhra and silver filigree, natural material crafts, Pipili appliqué work, tribal craft, pre weaving techniques and handloom.

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