« »

Tukking In India

20. August 2011

Greetings All

What a great way to see some of India.

2000 kilometres from Mumbai to Chennai in auto rickshaws also affectionately known as Tuk Tuks.

Teams of 2 or 3 competitors in 14 Tuk Tuks competing over the distance with points for completing the days distance prior to flag drop, photographic challenges and best costumes for the day.

A great mix of competitors with teams from Spain, Ireland,  England, Wales, Australia, Canada and the Kiwi team of Nick and myself. Great to meet up again with my team mate from the Polar Challenge, Paul Craig and his wife Jill.

Besides our fellow competitors the event was always going to be about meeting and mixing with the Indian people as the journey unfolded. A nation of friendly folk and the Indian hospitality commenced on arrival with 3 hours of smiling and politeness by the hopelessly inefficient immigration chaps.

The flag went up the morning of Monday 1st August in Mumbai and off we charged. No maps just town names and a final destination hotel for the day but with the incredibly friendly locals willing to give directions navigation was not going to be an issue though getting out of the Mumbai jungle was not exactly straight forward.

Competitors were soon to discover that the machinery supplied was not of a very high standard and that is being generous in description.

Teams were having wheels fall off and all sorts of components failing and we were still in the Mumbai city limits. It was going to be an interesting journey.

Event spirit was great though with teams stopping to help those whose Tuk tuks had come to a grinding halt.

Once clear of Mumbai the journey continued down the Arabian Sea coast. Mumbai, Alibag, Pune, Panchgani, Ratnagiri and into Panaji the 3rd largest city of the state of Goa.

Panaji was approximately the race half way point and included a lay day which was much needed for repairs.

Some teams were having serious mechanical issues and were not arriving at the days hotel until well into the night. Travelling at night on Indian roads with the ever present potholes, lights not functioning on the machines and Indian bus drivers  did present  some challenges for those unfortunate to be still on the road after dark.

The Welsh hit a nice pothole at night and that resulted in a very broken front end of their Tuk Tuk.

The Irish lads didn’t need darkness for excitement as they tipped their machine on its side coming down a hill and ended up over a bank and lodged in a tree. A few scratches to the lads, a few repairs and they were ready to go again. The Aussies managed to break the chassis of their machine!!!

Sorry to report that the Kiwi team did not feature in such excitement and with some preventative maintenance our machine only suffered minor failures.

Still repairs were effected each night and in the mornings teams sped off again for another day of tukking down the testing Indian roads.

The 2nd part of the journey was an eastward path. Penaji, Murudeshwar, Mangalore, Mysore, Bangalore, Vellore, Chennai.

Many teams were sourcing local repair shops to fix the breakages so generally a greater reliability was experienced in the eastward run to Chennai.

We all arrived into Chennai on Friday 12th and after 1200 kms the Spanish lads were deserved winners. Cristian and Gilberto had put a lot of effort into daily costumes and combined with completing each leg within the allocated time they had accumulated the most points.

Those Tukking Kiwis finished 8th.

Fantastic fun charging across India in a rickshaw with other teams and the stand out was the local people. The Indian folk are super friendly, super helpful and very colourful. Even with communications barriers they never became flustered in trying to convey directions. Just that ever present Indian head wobble and huge smiles.

Also very noticeable was how happy the general population was even though most are extremely poor with a very low standard of living compared to the west.  Some of the western worlds folk with low motivation and expectations of handouts could learn from these people.

Another part of the event was visiting schools that had been constructed and were being operated by Indian Round Table divisions. These schools were for children from poor families who could not afford the Government schools and to put that into perspective it cost approx USD 10 per year to send a child to a Government school.

The Round Table groups are doing a fantastic job and the race organisers are doing a great job in raising the profile of these projects by having the event visit the schools.

Teams also made donations to these projects.

Of course another highlight was the great Indian food. When in the land of curries…

Check out some trip photos in the gallery.

So in summary;

Great people – both locals and fellow competitors

Great food

Terrible roads

Different  driving habits

A blast!!

Some Virgin Galactic space developments are looming so stay tuned.



date Posted on: Saturday, August 20, 2011 at 5:54 am

Ross Maxwell is powered by WordPress