27th September 2014
1962 was the height of the Cold War. Kruschev had escalated things by performing a series of nuclear tests, the Americans were responding, and in October there was the Cuban missile crisis. In the midst of all this, 2 young Indians, Satish Kumar and EP Mennon, felt ashamed. They had seen the 90-year old Bertrand Russell go to jail for civil disobedience, demonstrating against nuclear armaments and asked themselves, "what are we doing?". Thus the idea of the Peace Walk was born. They decided to walk, yes walk, the 8,000 mile journey that took them to the 4 nuclear powers of the time - Russia, France, Britain and the USA.
They went with no money, trusting to fate and human kindness. Their first stop was Pakistan, an enemy state. But the first problem was no passports. They didn't have the money to pay for them, but the publicity surrounding their walk meant that Nehru himself intervened and passports showed up like magic, just before they reached the border. Full of trepidation, they crossed and found a Pakistani man with garlands who had been waiting there for them several days, having heard they were coming. He took them in and gave them food and shelter on their way.
Their journey continued - through the Khyber Pass, where they met an American who offered them a lift in his car. They turned him down, explained they were walking to Washington and he asked them if they knew were America actually was. Faced with their determination, he gave them his business card and asked them to look him up if they ever got to the USA.
From Afghanistan they travelled through Iran, Armenia, Georgia, through the Caucasus onto Moscow. In Georgia, women from a tea factory gave them 4 packets of tea and asked them to deliver them to the nuclear powers. "When they are thinking of pressing the button, tell them to stop and have a cup of tea", they said. These tea packets became a part of their walk. In Moscow they presented the tea to the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet, in the Kremlin. Via Poland and Germany, in Paris they got arrested. In London they gave one to Clement Attlee. But they were unable to give one to Kennedy - he was dead by the time they got there. They did however meet an astonished American from the Khyber pass, and Martin Luther King. They travelled 8,000 miles from Ghandi's grave to Kennedy's grave, to protest for peace*.
We will commemorate this amazing penniless walk with our own walk through the cuisines of the countries they passed through. India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Poland, Germany, France, England and the USA. And we will drink a toast to peace.
"if you have money, that is a buttress for fear, because you don’t trust people. You think that you can buy anything you like. But when you have no money, then you cannot say, "I like this person and I don’t like that person, I’ll stay with this person, I won’t stay with that person. You accept everybody without any judgment, without any questioning, without any criticism, without any suspicion or mistrust. You trust everybody. You are in the lap of people, and in the lap of God. You have to have total trust and faith"
India - Dhokla a traditional snack served with pomegranate raita (v)
Pakistan - Pakistani spiced courgettes (v)
Afghanistan - Bichak, cheese stuffed pastries (v)
Iran - Kookoo e Sabzi, a very traditional herb omelette often enjoyed on the banks of the Caspian Sea (v)
Armenia - Bamya - a delicious lamb and okra stew (v available)
Georgia - Batlijani - ever-popular walnut stuffed aubergines (v)
Russia - Olivier, the classic Russian salad, made with home made mayonnaise (v)
Poland - Kluski Kladzione z sosem szpinakowym - that's home made noodles with spinach sauce to you and me, one of the best things I ate in Poland last weekend (v)
Germany - Labskaus - comfort food at its best, this is what the sailors used to eat and is now famous as a hangover cure. Potatoes, beets and corned beef.
England - Roast Chicken and Vegetable Pie - the original and best :-)
France - Mousse au Chocolat - what else! (v)
USA - Classic baked cheesecake - from Philadelphia of course, where they met their friend Dr. Scarf from the Khyber pass (v)
And of course, we will finish the meal with tea from Georgia!
Cost will be £45 of which £35 will go to MSF
Please mail us with bookings on firstname.lastname@example.org
* You can read more about Satish Kumar's amazing walk in his book, No Destination.