November 18th 2010: In villages of East Medinipur…..Rousing speeches, Women join slogan-shouting heartily, Organic outlet inaugurated in Kajla village
The day began early and gave all indications of a very busy day ahead – four teams went in four different
directions – some of us were part of a cycle rally accompanied by a “trolley” – a rickshaw sort of vehicle
with a flat surface on which a public address system was fit; the other three teams went to three organic
farms and came back very impressed at the integrated farming systems that they saw and learnt from.
There were three street corner meetings on the cycle rally route, with at least fifty cyclists winding their
way slowly, with slogans, through the mud roads around the paddy fields and water ponds.
These visits were followed by a public meeting that began at 11 am. After welcoming all yatris formally
with specially-made badges with paddy and pumpkin seeds, the organizers (Kajla Jan Kalyan Samity)
invited the special guests to come and inaugurate a new outlet in the village which would stock organic
produce and handicrafts. The first purchases were made by the yatris – colorful hand-fans from palm
leaves and leaf katoris, which seem to be disappearing fast. Throughout the yatra, we have had difficulty
locating non-plastic stuff from which to eat.
The public meeting had speakers after speakers exhorting farmers to adopt self reliant ecological
farming. The colorful stalls, arranged in a pretty manner, drew the crowds with their paddy, vegetable
and other seeds. One stall exhibited materials from kitchen gardens.
All of us noted with delight that women here join slogan-shouting heartily – in the Bangla culture…?
There was a press conference at 3 pm attended by more than fifteen media persons. After the public
meeting, which was interspersed by lots of songs and slogan-shouting, including telugu songs by an
Andhra farmer, we had an impromptu street meeting on our way to Kolkata, at Bajkun. This drew
curious crowds who later joined in the slogans around the messages of the Yatra.