Friday, 3 August 2012

Let the monsoon rains begin

Ever since we discovered the rickshaw challenge was a 'competition' and the winners would get an entry into another challenge in 2013, us girls had got a thought! Maybe we could win this... So in the spirit of earning points, we were up bright and early cleaning our Rickshaw - proudly named Missy! If only we knew how pointless it was just an hour down the track.

By 8:30am we were out on the country road, enjoying the mild monsoonal breeze blowing through our hair. The Ben10 bubble blowing gun made its appearance today - I got a little too trigger happy and too enthusiastic covering the neighbouring motorcyclists and pedestrians in bubbles. Ruth was in her prime driving down the main road, while Pia and I made running commentary to our surroundings and added the necessary 'oooo' and 'ahhhhs' to Ruth's gear changes!

Today we were required to complete some challenges along the way. First on the list was to head to the small town of Khopali and find a black temple next to a reservoir and have our photo taken. Tick!
Then the helpful security guard at the temple helped photograph our bonus photo which had to include the reservoir. Ruth kindly offered to risk her life by leaning precariously over the edge in a diving position... top shoot!!

From the small little town it was pretty much a steep climb uphill in now torrential rain. Accidentally we ended up on the express way, surrounded by cars and trucks, back spraying our little rickshaw. At the top of the road a group of policemen were waiting, checking vehicles. Of course we got stopped, but more from curiosity and to have our photo taken but we weren't stopped once or twice but thrice!!

We powered on through the rain although at this point I realized it'd b wet, but not so chilly. Oops I guess we should have brought our jumpers after all.

Gradually our rickshaw came to a halt with a group of other vehicles on the national highway. Up ahead a semi trailer had severely crashed into the back of another semi trailer earlier in the day and the aftermath was still on the road. So another truck carrying a very wide load thought it could pass but instead got wedged inbetween the left over car crash and the highway fencing. As I went down to inspect, a group of boys who were towing their car suggested we U turn and head down the other side of the freeway with the other cars. Kindly they pushed 'Missy' around and we followed the vans into oncoming traffic, not the most pleasant experience but this is India!! As soon as we could make it back over to the correct side of the road we were there!

Onward we ploughed through the rain. As we got closer to Pune a young man on his motorbike kindly showed us the direction to Pune Airport, since our hotel was located in this area. As we drove to our final destination we got a bit concerned when we saw signs for presenting identification since we were entering a military zone. Thankfully no police stopped us, instead when we got to the airport and asked for directions from the local tuk tuk drivers we were stopped by the crowds of people curious about this strange pink rickshaw. 'where you going?' ' what are you doing?' 'Are you on TV?'
After the 20 questions we headed in the direction given however when we came to a major intersections on an 8 lane highway, we weren't 100% sure if it was the right way, so Ruth smartly called the hotel driver to come and show us the way from the airport. Unfortunately this meant returning to the airport and admitting to the tuk tuk drivers we didn't really understand their instructions!

By the time JP ( the head mechanic & liaison dude) arrived we were surrounded by at least 20 people. JP cleared them out of the way and jumped on board 'Missy'as we followed the hotel driver. The remainder of the evening was spent drying off and swapping road stories over the dinner table.

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