On a day to day basis it was the longest most frustrating 14 days of our lives, looking back it was the most amazing and adventurous 14 days.
I should be scared, but I am not. I am full of excitement and anticipation sitting in the long line of rickshaws waiting to launch from Pondicherry. I am getting inpatient. We are losing time I say to myself, we need to get on the road. But we are stuck giving interviews and posing for photos like Bollywood film stars.
We had only one day to test drive our pimped out Karma Kab before setting off on our 14 day adventure. As we spin around the dusty parking lot outside of the Rickshaw Run garage, it’s too late for second thoughts. Sitting behind me is my teammate and boyfriend – who has never driven in his life and has essentially paid for his driving license in Mumbai just in case anyone asks to see it along the way.
“It’s just like driving a motorcycle.” I overhear other participants saying to one another as they struggle to get the hang of the clutch and gear shift. I’ve never driven a motorcycle before. Only a scooter once, which left me lying in the dirt after jumping off seconds before it slammed into a clothing stall in Goa.
The Rickshaw Run (operated by The Adventurists) is an adventure trip, a charity fundraiser and a life changing experience. Upon signing up, warnings tell us “Your chances of being seriously injured or dying as a result of taking part are high.” Scary. No one has died on the run yet, but the risks of navigating potholed, non-roads in a glorified lawn mower, close to the bottom of the vehicle totem pole, are very real.
Our journey will take us from the French town of Pondicherry in the far south of India to the far northeast mountainous town of Shillong. The distance we plan to cover is roughly the same as from Los Angeles to New York, and yet we’ll be enduring it in an open sided vehicle not half as reliable as a golf cart.
After three days of last minute shopping, final pimping of our rickshaw and a boisterous New Years Eve launch party to kick things off, it’s time to hit the road. As always, over eager and wanting to be on time, we are one of the first teams to arrive. However, the garage is soon bustling with activity, everyone comparing long distance truck horns, tape players and fairy light displays. And then panic hits as we all realize we have forgotten to fill up our petrol tanks!
This is the first in a multi-part series recounting our adventures on the 2009 Rickshaw Run in India. Sign up to receive emails to make sure you don’t miss any installments! Click here for tips on how to survive the Rickshaw Run.