Robyn bikes again

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, March 2, 2023

Robyn MacKay and Bruce Roberts stand by their bikes in front of the Thupsun Dhargey Ling Monastery in Dirang in northeast India (top centre), in a journey rich in cultural and religious diversity, from banana-leaf umbrellas on a rainy day (top right), to a women-only Puja for the Hindu goddess Durga (lower right), to a welcoming bamboo hut in Majuli (left). Photos by Robyn MacKay

Back on their bikes and off to India again for their sixteenth time. This time Robyn MacKay and her husband Bruce Roberts were touring the northeast corner of India in an area called the Seven Sisters – in Robyn’s words, “a hidden gem with rugged landscapes and roads, countless tribal cultures, religious practices and languages.”

True to the ice cream fame of her MacKay name in Cochrane, Robyn has brought the rich flavours of cultural diversity to our columns on many occasions (for example, my Feb. 25, 2016 column). Their trip last fall adds a new flavour.

“Completely relying on the amazing kindness and acceptance of the people we encountered, we cycled from the tea fields of Assam to the ridge tops of Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya experiencing an openness that shone an eternal bright light into our hearts,” Robyn says.

An example of this was the welcome Robyn and Bruce experienced on the rustic island of Majuli.

“As we were cycling along a tiny dirt road, we realized we had run out of water, so we stopped at this hut to ask (in sign language because we couldn’t speak their language) if we could fill our water bottles from their pump,” Robyn says. “We were welcomed with open hearts and spent some time sitting with the family and meeting all of the generations that lived in the little hut. We filled our water bottles, our minds, and our hearts with that wonderful family.”

Robyn describes the special lesson she takes from this fall’s visit to India as follows:

“Although the Seven Sisters are home to the 330 million gods of Hinduism, Lord Buddha, the Gurus of Sikhism, Allah, Lord Jesus and every sect imaginable, the overriding faith is that hard work and the goodness of humanity will guide everyone. Duty to the earth and mankind is woven into the fabric of every religion and culture there, creating an indescribable beauty and strength within the people. When things implode there, the people calmly pick up the pieces and put them back together like a beautiful mosaic, all guided by a natural sense of dharma, innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Thanks, Robyn, for these flavourful reflections.


© 2023 Warren Harbeck

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