“I would love to marry a Naga if he could be a Vegan .. !!” – says a 25 year old Hannah Kern who is on a cycling spree from Vietnam to London. After pedaling through five countries Hannah touched upon some Northeastern states as well and her experience is worth a share.
Hannah pedaled into India via Manipur where she spent some incredible days with the local people. Describing her sojourn at Imphal Hannah said “I was warmly received by the wonderful Thoudam family (who honestly looked after me as though I was the actual Queen of England). That included taking me around Manipur, feeding me extremely well and teaching me to cook all my favorite dishes – yum! ”.
After bidding farewell to Manipur, she made her way to Nagaland. Unfortunately she got stuck there due to the curfew imposed towards the end of last year for the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Her schedule got messed up as she had to extend her stay in Nagaland. In spite of the changes in schedule, Hannah loved her stay. She also got to attend the most colorful fiesta of Nagaland- Hornbill Festival. “Hornbill festival was phenomenal and I got to witness the amazing display of culture”, says Hannah.
Once the curfew was taken down, Hannah rode all the way to Assam. The initial experience of her cycling in Assam was not very pleasant as she got hit by a truck in Doboka. She had to come to Guwahati to get her bike fixed. After celebrating Christmas and welcoming the new year in Guwahati, Hannah started her way to the abode of clouds-Meghalaya. She was mesmerized by the beauty and people of Meghalaya. There, she also met another solo female cyclist from Spain, Yesenia who has been living on her bicycle since three years.
During her stay in the Northeast Hannah provided free educational programs in schools raising awareness about environmentalism, teaching them about climate change, zero waste etc.
Like any other non-native, Hannah too was enchanted by the beauty of Northeast during her. In spite of being a vegan, Hannah relished quite a few vegan delicacies including the evergreen Assamese combo Dal, Bhaat and Aloo Pitika. “I know that the food is not for me. Yet I had some exceptional food in the northeast and all the food that the families have cooked for me is amazing ”, says a content Hannah.
“ The Northeast is breathtakingly beautiful and I want to live here! ” It is completely different from mainland India. It is just incomparable. Also, I feel very safe as a female. In the mainland India you have to watch yourself a lot more but I feel that in the Northeast women do have more respect ”, says Hannah who visited Northeast for the first time.
Hannah's story of embarking on this whole international happiness movement which she termed 'Hannah's Happiness Project' is an interesting one. Hannah is originally from London with a ‘crazy big family’ with six brothers and a sister. She was running two businesses, her own travel based one and another, her brother’s which was performing arts for children. Although she loved what she was doing she felt like she has become 40 overnight. Money became the sole focus. While, all Hannah wanted to do was making a difference in people’s lives. Hence she decided to move out for 3-4 years to look for what she really wanted to do. “I got an opportunity to go and live in Vietnam as a tour guide. This job accentuated my mothering nature looking after groups of young people. That was when I got inspired by Electric bicycles as there are abundance of those in Hanoi ”, says Hannah.
Although her cycling ride began from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam on 2nd Feb, she kicked started her happiness project on 1st April 2019 from Hanoi. The whole idea was to connect home to home- from her home in Hanoi to her actual home in London promoting sustainable economical ecological transport and raising awareness and funds for charities Crisis, Friends of the Earth, MSF (Doctors Without Borders) and War Child UK that she is representing and also talk about issues that need to be talked about.
Hannah believes she has an abundance of love in her heart and she wants to share it with the world. She is also planning a two week program Hannah's Himalayan Happiness Retreat in April at Naggar, a town 22 kms from Manali.