Our journey began more than 4 days ago and I’ve not had a chance to think. The relative tranquility of our ride setup pre days, soon turned into the reality of the road. We set off from Jaiselmer and made good speed to Jodphur on solid roads. The mayor roadways are often smooth and fast and we made good time. The rolling thunder of the road in India is pretty wild from the seat of a Rickshaw. The noise, the smells, the people – we must have met (and I mean met, so introduced, conversation, goodbye) at least 20 people while they rode their moto bikes along side us.
Having a bike pull along side for a chat and a selfie while driving with one hand is common and unavoidable when you’re in an open-sided ride. We become “friends” as they weave skillfully along squashed between us and the oblivion of potholes, dust and dead things that is the near curbside of a major road.
John and I saw in the New Year from the rooftop of the Haveli. The rest of the crew stayed late to enjoy the RickshawRun party madness. We made another campfire on the roof and watched the stars get knocked out by the fireworks. A pretty cool place to end the decade it has to be said. Sometimes the internet pays back, as I was able to connect live (or near live) with the people I love that are now so far away.
After what felt like a cold morning in a meat locker, we spent the rest of a hazy crazy day on the Rickshaw Run lot pimping out the rides. We “attached” all the extended luxury rolling travel items we’d spent 24 hours collecting. We attached bottle holders and seat covers, and stuck foam to the bars and casings of the ride. With maybe two full days of cold northern road to cover before we get far enough south of the cold front, we had drop sides made to keep out whatever cheap India foe-leather can handle. Pimped out or puckered up, we all then headed out onto the roads of India for the test ride and appertiser before the main course starts tomorrow. Are we really ready? Maybe. Are we going regardless? Absolutely.
The crew just staggered in from the desert, back to the comfort of the hotel after a crazy night out in the dunes.
We took a “safari” with a short one hour camel ride – the dromerdary was not really high on anyone’s must do list so we went short on that. This was a lot more boys camping that fancy tents and tourist “gypsy dancers”.
And you can’t beat a hand cooked japatti, and some dall over an open fire. We tried Boogly for the first time – I can’t reliably describe it as it’s a cross between a fried savoy snack and a crunchy pasta noodle. Huddled around the fire eating off the production line was quite something. The chicken tika pieces were to die for. Just knockout camp chow for what turned out to be the coldest day in a century.
This was by far not the most comfortable night ever, but the stars were just amazing and the long night took on an challenge rating. The blankets weighed 20-odd pounds – really; the sand was as hard as board – which was odd, why not soft and grainy; and the wind blew cold, cold late in the night as the weather closed in. A warm start turned into cold finish as Northern India broke through a century-old cold weather record. Past midnight it was almost wet outside – but not frozen. Five coffin-like pods curled up in a row, really feeling the weight and the warmth of what feel like a mattres.
And now, from the warmth of my hotel bed, with the prospect of a cold night out there I think I might stay in bed with my socks on. As maybe a 1000 booming new years bahangra parties get ready to spark all over the city I might just stay in for new years. It’s dam comfetable and warm inside a 15th century fortress, wrapped up in bed with a cup of hot chia…
There’s something magical about being up before the crowd, particularly here in India. Life kicks off at a more sober pace before the dogs, horns and people take to the streets. The rooftops are empty, the streets washed clean and a hazy sun struggles to raise its head above yesterday’s output.
And as the sun rises over the great fort of Jaiselmer the early morning sounds reflect how things must have been. The sound of quiet. Just the cooing of a pigeon and the sound of the first street cart being pushed into place ready for the onslaught. It takes about an hour; by 8am she’s awake. The haze clears (just a little), the motors start, the horns blow (who the **** are you honking at dude, the street is empty) and so it begins again.
Having arrived safely in Jaiselmer in the far north west of India, we’ve moved into our digs at the Desert Haveli house inside the old fort. The guest house is a 450 year old merchant mansion from the time before time. We spent our first day here walking the markets and collecting goods. Everyone is a little jet-lagged and dazed but picking up fast.
Tomorrow we meet our Rickshaws and start planning our journey. You can track our possible track on Google maps here.
We’ll most likely start out heading for Jodphur and the magnificent fort there, then head south for Pune as fast as our little wheels will take us. The plan is to make the Sailpoint office in Pune on Wednesday 8th. After several passenger rides in local Rickshaws we’re all starting to wonder just how crazy this journey might actually be (gulp).
Today begins an epic journey. From Austin to Delhi, Delhi to Jaiselmer, Jaiselmer to the rest of the Indian sub continent and Sri Lanka beyond. My climbing training (thank you Allen) tells me I’ve doubtlessly over packed. I’m in less that 40 ltrs in size and at less than 20 lbs in weight. We shall see. I am traveling with a micro yoga mat and the self-promise that I’ll practice every morning in an attempt to save my back from Rickshaw L4/L5 Armageddon 🙂
Imagine yourself and 4 friends in two single donkey powered rolling tin cans, desperately trying to traverse India…
Well, I’ve committed to help drive two auto rickshaws across the Indian sub-continent from Jaisalmer in the far north to Kochi is the far south. This unsupported run of over 2,600 kms must be completed within 14 days. There is no set route, no back-up and no way of knowing if we’re going to make it. The only certainty is we will get lost, we will get stuck and we probably will break down!
At the time, this seemed like a sensible way to raise funds and awareness for Athletics for Kids and Cool Earth – now I’m not so sure ☺ But thanks to SailPoint and our other corporate sponsors, we are well on our way to meeting our fund-raising goals, so we’re going for it! You can help, by contributing to the cause or by simply following along here or on the SailPoint blog page – I’ll be sending in regular updates as we traverse the country.
There’s a PDF flyer with the proposed journey and information on our selected benefiting charities available here and (giving links below). If you’re based at the SailPoint Pune office, we’re planning to stop by – hopefully Wednesday the 8th of January – fingers crossed we make it on time and stay on three (yes that’s three) wheels!