In the last few days we have been joined by Luca and Flavio on behalf of National Geographic Italy, with whom we have shot the final images to be shown during the Science Festival from 8-14 April in Rome. This break was also an opportunity to meet the chairman of the Bihar State Pollution Control Board with monitors the river Ganges from a pollution standpoint. He has reiterated a thought that I have been hearing repeatedly from people right since the beginning of this journey.
He said ‘It is today’s young generation, the policymakers of tomorrow, who will save the Ganges. We must only hope that their desire to live in a cleaner world will maintain the passion with which they protest in all the town squares of the world.’ He was making a clear reference to Greta Thunberg, the 15-year-old Swedish girl who has been protesting for months in front of the Stockholm parliament.
Speaking of kids, today I met Ashoka, ten years old, his face and hands hardened by who knows what kind of challenges. His arms are covered in tattoos which he made himself – his name, his mother’s name, a star and some incomprehensible scribbles on his shoulders. He is nice. He may never take to the streets to protest and I don’t even know if he really wants a different future. I looked briefly into his eyes and I couldn’t help wondering what will become of him when he is an adult.
We asked him why he was not at school and he replied ‘There is no school today, the summer holidays have begun.’ He was lying, of course, because it is only Spring.
Tomorrow we set off again and finally we leave Patna behind us. It is the last big city on our way towards Kolkata. Soon we will immerse ourselves in a more rural environment – the setting which has brought us our best moments so far.