So the Rickshaw Run is over and it was amazing. An epic journey from the eastern to western borders of India, I would happily repeat again despite the exhausting intensity of it.
Cumulatively, with thanks to your donations, the teams raised over £60,000 to date (or as Safi the one and only Egyptian participant said – 1 million Egyptian pounds – which sounds so much better!). A special thanks to Daniel Calderbank, who donated a £250 for the complete craziness of it all and another £250 to spur us across the finish line. We love you Daniel!
We managed to hand Tuktanic back in one piece, although only after a LOT of tinkering and mechanics along the way. A replacement clutch plate, repairs to stop the entire engine falling out and a very dodgy crank shaft. We did fare better than other teams though; the record was 36 breakdowns by one team, some of them nervous. There were a few rolls and one crash (none serious, although stitches were required). One team could only make headway by putting their tuk tuk on a train. Another group of teams were rounded up by the police and put under lock and guard, when it was deemed too dangerous for them to be out on the roads during the ongoing riots in Assam. Our convoy of three, missed out on these shenanigans but were instead interviewed for Assam television news; hosted by the Assam Cricket Association and treated as honoured guests.
We have been happy, angry, frustrated, excited, ecstatic, annoyed, exhilarated, enlightened and exhausted. India has been very welcoming to us, often overwhelmingly so. Wherever we stopped we have had a crowd. In some cases we have been mobbed to the point where we could barely get out of the tuk tuk. We have been photographed by just about everyone holding a mobile phone and posed alongside families wanting to capture the incongruous sight (for Indians) of us driving a tuk tuk. We have been escorted by the military and stopped by the police, just to have a chat about who and what we are doing and to speak to the inspector’s cousin on the phone. We avoided having a brick thrown at us, being chased by bandits and held up at a road block as another team did. We have seen every type of Indian architecture; from the Taj Mahal, Varanasi ghats to Rajasthani forts that make English castles look pithy. In Bihar we had a reality check and saw the most depressing homelessness imaginable.
Indian roads are an entire cosmos in their own right. At times terrifying, I have seen my life flash before my eyes. If you ever plan on driving in India, read rules of the road. We departed from Shillong with warm words from the Minister for Tourism of Megahlaya and finished in Rajasthan, with a party thrown by the Maharajah of Jaisalmer. Most teams made it although a couple of teams dropped out and another couple are still missing in action… we hope they are safe, but this we are told is pretty much the norm for the Rickshaw Run.