3,000km through India in a Rickshaw
Guest blog by Scott Peters
This summer, in the month of August whilst the British weather was at it‘s peak, two burly men, myself and my good friend Adam Lynch were known collectively as The Mighty Tuks! We drove the length of India in a Rickshaw, for ourselves and for charity. Not only was the journey a test of mechanical skills and bowel strength, but also of endurance and companionship. This is our story… sort of.
Adam and I pushed ourselves to the extreme in order to raise as much money as possible for a few charities close to our hearts NSPCC, Battersea Dogs (& Cats) Home and Cool Earth. You can still donate on our Virgin Money Giving page here.
I‘m currently back in the Western world, or rather over the Western world, squashed in the back row of an EasyJet flight to Berlin for a shoot tomorrow, with my laptop at my feet, my phone in my hand and some tunes in my ears.
This time last month I was in a vastly different setting, half way around the world with one of my best friends, in the process of driving a rickshaw over 5,000km across India.
If you‘ve ever been to India you‘ll know that you can‘t walk down the street without being stopped and asked your country of origin, working profession and the purpose of your visit. Following the answer to the latter was always a puzzled face and the question "why?".
My friend Adam and I were taking part in The Rickshaw Run, which saw us and 60 other teams in differing capacities find our way from Shillong in the North East state of Assam all the way down the length of the country to Kochi in the South West state of Kerala.
If you‘re not too familiar with India, check it out on a map, it‘s the giant Dorito of Asia dipping itself into the Indian Ocean about half way between Africa and Oceania and it‘s BIG — enormous in fact.
I don‘t think either of us quite comprehended what we‘d set out to achieve until a few weeks prior to leaving England when we lay two enormous maps out in my London flat, trying to line them up as they covered the whole of the living room floor, only for us to realise we were going to need a third map if we were to be able to find our way on the first 7 days of our trip.
I could write a book on what we saw and the experiences we shared, there wasn‘t a dull moment, well there was, I‘ll touch on that later, but as I‘m guessing you don‘t have the time to read my book and I know I haven‘t the time to write it, I thought I‘d touch on a few key subjects that played large parts in the trip.
We took almost every form of transportation known to man in our time in India. Planes, trains, motorcycles, cars, boats, a helicopter and of course a rickshaw, our rickshaw, we referred to her only as Delilah.
Delilah was a 2 stroke, petrol fuelled, 3 wheeler. A heavily used / pre-owned 2 stroke, petrol fuelled, 3 wheeler, and she broke down, a lot, almost every day in fact and often on multiple occasions. This led to the both of us getting to know her intimately, inside and out, which ultimately was a good thing. I don‘t think there‘s much that could go wrong with a rickshaw that we couldn‘t solve, or at least temporarily bodge together with gaffer tape and cable ties.
What we couldn‘t fix however, some kind Indian stranger who had appeared out of thin air at the point of breakdown probably could, or at least give it a good try, or know someone near by that was a mechanic.
The people of India (any and all hotel staff aside) are incredibly kind, generous and have an unfulfilled desire to help others, particularly strangers, even when you didn‘t always want their help, they‘d still give it a good go.
It‘s probably fairly accurate to say a good 90% of our friends and family were all well informed of our upcoming adventure, as a result of excitement on our part and because we were pestering everyone to sponsor us as we attempted to raise a grand for our friends at Battersea Dogs (& Cats) Home and the NSPCC in recognition of the colossal drive we were undertaking.
Following on from this you should know I often get paid to film things, direct things, make things - for a living that is. Naturally everyone asked me if I was planning on filming the trip. I most definitely wanted to document it, but didn‘t fancy lugging large and costly camera equipment around India. So I bought myself a cheap pocket camera, something I could easily whip out at the site of any action (hai oh!) and would be inconspicuous at all times - “you want to take picture“ was often the response from the English speaking locals - little did they know…
I tend to over think most things and started very undecided as to what I was making with this record of the trip I was documenting. A few days in the amount of footage I already had made the decision for me and I started about making my first vlogs since the good old days when the word "vlog" didn‘t exist. To be honest, I don‘t even know if it officially exists now, the autocorrect on my phone seems to think otherwise.
I loved it, the vlogging that is, and what at first I thought could turn into a bit of a chore, quickly became second nature on a day to day basis. It‘s like Snapchat but better and for some reason, possibly because the majority of people around me had no idea what I was saying and I already stuck out like a 6‘ 2“ pale ginger man tends to do in amongst 1 billion small Indian men, after a couple of days I didn‘t even feel like a self conscious boob any more.
I can hear you cringing over the inter-web. Sorry, but Adam was key to the way this trip played out, without him I‘d probably be on the side of the road somewhere on the outskirts of Shillong prodding around in Delilah‘s arse with my GoPro pole hoping that her engine might miraculously kick back into life.
I‘ve never spent that amount of time away or even at home with any one person without any real interaction with others before. Adam‘s pretty mellow yellow but I was sure we‘d lock horns at some point - what with the breakdowns, piss odour‘d hotel rooms and a serious lack of wifi, one of us was sure to eventually crack. But we never did, he never did, well that‘s not strictly true… he did crack 5 bones in his arm on the last day of the race when I flipped Delilah coming a bit too fast round a sharp, downhill corner, but even then, he still didn‘t lose it with me.
The 4 consecutive days in hospital that followed after were the dull moments I mentioned earlier, they were also at times slightly scary too - one such example was when Adam was wheeled back into the room after surgery with just the one arm rather than the two he had gone in with and it was a terrifying, vomit inducing few moments before I noticed his gown was disguising his, now fairly lifeless, but never the less still attached, second arm!
Arm breaks aside, we shared an incredible, unforgettable experience together - a lot of which you can experience for yourself in the vlogs I mentioned earlier over on my channel, Wasted Time.
We‘ve already started planning the next trip, it too involves petrol.