Tuk Tuk Tuk! 11 Foreigners of ‘Rickshaw Challenge-Mumbai Xpress 2022’ Stop in City

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Foreigners in FIVE multi-Colored Autorickshaws named “Tottenham Tortoises”; “Brum Brum”; “Women on Wheels (For Equal Rights)”; “Sholay”, and “Piccolina Racing” as part of ‘Rickshaw Challenge-Mumbai Xpress 2022’ make a Pitstop in City

Mangaluru: Once again the members of ‘Mangalore Round Table 115′ and “Mangalore Ladies Circle 82 invited and greeted “The Rickshaw Challenge-Mumbai Xpress -2022’ at Bikarnakatte Government School on Tuesday, 16 August 2022. Both these associations have been involved in various social welfare activities such as providing infrastructure for education, building toilets blocks, visiting orphanages, helping the less privileged and so on. And as a fun event, every year they host and greet the Team members of the Rickshaw Challenge.

Year after year for the last eight years Mangaluru has been a destination where the participants in the Mumbai Xpress Rickshaw Challenge make a pit-stop here in the City. And this year was no exception, where 11 foreigners from Britain/England, Netherlands, and Germany as part of the world travelling in Tuk Tuk Auto-Rickshaws stayed overnight at Ginger Hotel in the City on 15 August, prior to their on-going journey towards Mysuru on 16 August morning.

An approximately 2000 km adventure in a 7 horsepower glorified lawnmower (auto-rickshaw?) -that’s truly amazing! “The Rickshaw Challenge-Mumbai Xpress -2022″ is easily the least sensible thing to do just within 13 days of travelling from Mumbai to Chennai. At each end of the Ride is a party of earth-shattering proportions but what is between them is all down to the team members. And luck – good or bad. No set route, no back-up, no way of knowing if they are going to make it. The only certainty is that they are bound to get lost, will get stuck and their vehicle will break down.

Each team consisted of one rickshaw and between two and three drivers. This trip in a Bajaj auto-rickshaw is enough to convince you that the rickshaw is barely fit for the purpose of a brief journey across town. It’s only when you hit the open road or indeed off-road that the beauty of these vehicles becomes apparent. Nothing of the design of these noisy tripods is with comfort, safety or reliability in mind. Thus these rickshaws have put these participants right at the bottom of the Indian road hierarchy thus giving them a perfect opportunity to see India from the gutter. Possibly the least suitable vehicle on the planet for covering the entire subcontinent within two weeks. In other words: perfect.

The participants were excited to meet the students and have a look at the school classrooms. They had a brief interaction with the students and the teachers along with the members of Round Table. The Rickshaw Challenge members then were flagged off at the School as they continued their journey to Mysore. On part of these two clubs- Mangalore Round Table 115 Chairman – Haron Fernandes; Mangalore Ladies Circle 82 Chairperson- Ms Monisha D’Souza; and other members -Tr Varadraj (Vadi) Shenoy, Tr. Royster D’Souza; Prof. Cherishma D’Silva, among others took care of the hospitality.

The Challenge named Mumbai Xpress 2022 a 2000 km self-driving rickshaw adventure all the way from Mumbai to Chennai was flagged off in Mumbai on 6 August 2022, and will culminate at Vellore, Chennai on 19 August 2022. The two weeks are full of excitement which lies ahead of these five teams, and like always, head organizer Princely Jeyachandran gives the participants an overview of the event from his point of view and takes them on a trip to India!

No doubt this is a crazy adventure on three-wheels, where the last Mumbai Xpress happened in 2019, so after a gap of two years Rickshaw Challenge is back again with 5 lovely teams. Mumbai, the megalomaniac metropolis of the Indian subcontinent, has its own charming way of welcoming tourists. When the doors of their aeroplane opened, the total sensory experience of Mumbai city transcended the Challenge participants into a new world.

Following the driving lessons, with many familiar faces that already had done a different Rickshaw Challenge with the organizers, this was easier than taking a duck to swimming. “Team Sholay”, consisting of Ms Claudia Ossola-Haring and Michel Haring, from Germany, have already done the 2017 Classic Run. Ms Jacomijn Heupink of “Team Women on Wheels” from the Netherlands, is a veteran of the Tamil Nadu Run 2019, in which she participated with some other friends. This time she is joined by Ms Maaike Van Der Woude and Ms Nicole Olbertz- a total Women Empowerment!

The other three teams had to start from zero, but it was not a problem for Princely, everything had gone smoothly until now. The First day ended in a local bar to taste the local cuisine with beers, and as per Princely, the party by the revellers was loud enough that the bartender had to volume them down a couple of times. Team ‘Tottenham Toritoise’ with Adam Chen and Hayley Burgoine and Team ‘Brum Brum’ with Bradley David and Ms Rebecca Postins, are friends from Britain. Team Piccolina Racing consists of a young couple Timothy Sharpe and Ms Robyn Sharpe from England. “With good fellowship and steadfast drinking the first day came to a fantastic ending”, said Bradley.

Speaking to the couple Timothy and Ms Robyn Sharpe, from Britain who said, “We love our first-time experience on Tuk Tuk rickshaw, and loved every place we stopped. People were courteous, good hospitality and friendly. We had so much more fun here in India than we had in our home country. Great scenery, landscapes, and Holy Cow- loved the cows roaming the streets, where we had to brake quite often. This experience will no doubt be a memorable one”.

When asked about their experience with people they came across, a bunch of team members said that people along their route were friendly, helpful and very courteous and gave them respect and provided them good hospitality when they needed it. “Indian folks are the best people on this planet,” they said. When asked about consuming Indian food during their rally, they all said that they enjoyed the Indian delicacies, especially veg dishes like Paneer Tikka, Dal Tadka, Gobi Manchurian etc- “Tandoori chicken and Chicken tikka was great at a roadside Dhaba. Loved the Mangalorean delicacies Kori Rotti and Chicken Ghee Roast (Whoo..bit spicy!) and coconut added Chicken Sukka. Masala chai was excellent” at Hotel Ginger restaurant.

Anything and everything, we ate when we were hungry. Almost exclusively, though, we ate at local restaurants and roadside cafes (dhabas). We found that the dirtier the cook, the better the food was. We often liked the veg plates better than the non-veg. Water, though, was the most important resource – especially when travelling long distances. Keeping stocked with bottled water was difficult at times, especially a bunch of us drinking litres and litres, they added.

It’s just the driver and the mates in a wholly unsuitable vehicle traversing the subcontinent enduring whatever the road has to throw at them. The aspiring adventurers come from different countries, and this year the participants on this adventure route were from Britain/England, the Netherlands and Germany, who were all looking for an experience of a lifetime and this is exactly what this “The Rickshaw Challenge-Mumbai Xpress -2022″provides. In order to win the “Challenge 2022, the participants will have to rely on the locals at each destination to guide them along to the next destination. Clearly, it is all about human power.

Since day 1 (6 August 2022) of their journey covering Mumbai, Alibag, Pune, Mahabaleshwar, Ratnagiri, Panjim-Goa, Murudeshwar, the team was in Mangaluru on 15 August evening and made the best use of the local cuisine, added to that the traditional and kind hospitality shown by the locals and MRT-115 and Mangalore Ladies Circle 82. With so much to achieve and such little time, the participants of the Mumbai Xpress Rickshaw Challenge 2022 have their work cut out for them.

The stage is set for the grandest of all challenges – a unique opportunity for the lovers of adventure to push their boundaries harder and higher and to prove their mettle in the great outdoors. While I enjoyed just a short time in the company of these 11 great adventurists at the government school in Bikarnakatte, I would like to compliment them for being bold and brave in undertaking this adventurous rally, and I wish them the best of luck. Great guys! Great Lasses-loved them all and their new friendship-hoping to keep in touch with them forever. Long live the “Rickshaw Challenge” heroes!

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