We completely wooed the officials of the Education Department of the Tamilnadu government in our very first meeting. All of them were very receptive and encouraging. Thereafter, every meeting took us closer to our goal of finding an alternative mode of departure from India. The Education Department on our behalf sent out letters to the Ministry of Education and Ministry of External Affairs at New Delhi, requesting them to offer us all help they could. We would visit the Tamilnadu Secretariat almost every day to follow up on the progress. Everyone we interacted with received us always with a smile and attended to us with care and involvement. We had never shared the popular perception of bureaucratic delay and indifference, and all officials enthusiastically reciprocated our determined, respectful and pleasant approach. Far from experiencing any difficulties whatsoever, we received swift and efficient assistance all the way.
Breakthrough on the horizon
The representation by the Tamilnadu government on our behalf was working and things were moving in our favour. On the crest of the wave, as it were, we met with some more luck. Thanks to a relative of mine employed with the Shipping Corporation of India, we got to meet the Chairman of the corporation. We just had a friendly chat with the Chairman at the end of which he formally sanctioned a free trip for us on an India Government-owned cargo vessel. So that’s it! We had made it! We would be off on our tour on board a ship. You can imagine how hard it would have been to resist the temptation to do a celebratory song and dance then and there.
As you can see from the letter, the Shipping Corporation could not commit to giving us a free passage at various points along our route. But the firm offer of a free passage from India to U.K.-Continent was absolutely fantastic. Now we could concentrate our energies on finding corporate sponsorship.
Good wishes from the Governor of Tamil Nadu
We had yet another goodwill gesture from the Tamilnadu government when we met the then Governor of Tamil Nadu and got a letter from him in which he congratulated us on our “intrepidity and spirit of adventure”. We felt good in seeing the government recognizing our undertaking as one which brought credit to the country, and fully enjoyed our role of virtual ambassadors taking India’s history and culture to thousands of people across Europe, bicycling through its cities and towns, by direct interaction and exchange.