Tag Archives: travel

“Should be fantastic as long as we survive the journey”

Yeah boy, straight up reportage. Work it.

GANGTOK, 13 Sept: The Autumn 2010 Rickshaw Run kicked off in Gangtok on Sunday, with 71 teams from around the world gathering to begin a 3500 km journey to Jaisalmer, Rajasthan armed with little but their wits and what they can carry in a three-wheeled auto-rickshaw.

The Rickshaw Run is a charity event organised by the League of Adventurists International, a British company headquartered in Bristol which runs four other similar events throughout the developing world. The Rickshaw Run was first held this past April and is going to be held three times a year, in the spring, autumn and winter. The first run ended here in Gangtok, and now those same auto-rickshaws are to used by new teams setting out in the opposite direction.

Taking a variety of routes through northern India and Nepal, the teams have two weeks to reach Jaisalmer. The Rickshaw Run is not a race, however, and there is no winner except the group who managed to raise the most for charity, currently a group called Arm Chair Loaf.

Each of the teams must raise at least 1000 British pounds (about Rs. 70,000) for one of two sponsored charities: FRANK Water Projects, which funds clean water facilities, and Maiti Nepal, which works for to project Nepali women and girls from trafficking and domestic abuse. Those teams that raise more can also donate to an additional charity of their choice.

A team from the United States, whose rickshaw was named “Raiders of the Lost Tuk” after the classic Indiana Jones film and the colloquial name for auto-rickshaws in Southeast Asia, raised around US$10,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. One of the team members, Jim Matheson of San Francisco, has type 1 diabetes.

“I’m more excited for this than I would be for my wedding day,” said Brianna Limebrook from Boston, the leader of the “Raiders” team.

The 175 participants met with their vehicles Sunday morning in front of the Tourism Department office at MG Marg, where the Sikkim Police Band performed and tourism officials spoke to a crowd of gathered onlookers.

Many of the teams wore colourful costumes or outrageous uniforms with themes to match their artfully decorated rickshaws. One team of three stood out in the crowd with a set of neon coloured suits: one green, one orange, one pink. Another was making the journey dressed in black-tie tuxedos and sneakers covered in shiny black tape. Despite their bombastic outfits, however, the racers expressed a very down to earth mixture of excitement and nervousness.

“Should be fantastic as long as we survive the journey,” said Sweyn Alsop from England, a member of the tuxedo team. Mr. Alsop added that he wished his tux was a rental.

“Probably the silliest idea we’ve ever had,” said Mark Burton of London.

Even as the event organisers made their final speeches, some of the teams were still scrambling with preparations, like packing last minute snacks and filling their vehicles with petrol.

When the mass of rickshaws finally set off, however, the scene was a bit anticlimactic. The teams were allowed to head down the hill only a few at a time, so as not to disrupt the busy Sunday traffic. As the crowd dispersed, a few stragglers remained, stymied by engine trouble and key mixups.


The Rickshaw Riders

So this weekend Gangtok was flooded with over 175 white people here for the start of the Rickshaw Run, a ‘charity adventure’ of sorts that has them traveling in three-wheeled auto-rickshaws from Gangtok all the way (3500 km) to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. I had a great time covering the event, with all these interesting characters to talk to. I’ll post my coverage later this week, but I was so excited at some of the people shots I took in the crowd that I wanted to get them up first.

Goodbye, Thailand

Last post before I’m back in home-sweet-India. Thailand: it’s been real. And unreal. Much love.

Back in BKK

Back in Bangkok for a couple nights before I fly out to India on Sunday. Been running around changing my flight and everything. And of course corresponding with all you lovely people who read my Chronicle piece. Because I just adore you all so much, here is a delightful piece of Bangkok graffiti. You earned it!

Landscape TV

Today (and last night) is another travel day. I’m back in Bangkok, sadly parted from Daniel and Pong who are flying back to the States tomorrow. I’ll be running around here in BKK and back to Klang Dong the next few days, and then I fly back to Kolkatta on the 1st. I have a megaton of photos from Pong’s little brother’s monkification ceremony, so hopefully I’ll be able to put up some of those soon.

Daniel and I encountered this television shell outside a closed Internet cafe out on a rural road. We didn’t have a camera with us, so later that day we motorbiked back to get some shots. Something about this set up is endlessly appealing.

A Little Scene At Play

Lovely days in Southern Thailand with friends Daniel and Pong. Not much time for writing or blogging, though I have a lot of pictures to sort through. The set below is from Laos, and it rather struck me as having the dynamic of a comic strip. A scene is set, a new character enters, something happens, snarky punchline. Add your own captions!

What I Did When I Couldn’t Find A Job

Check it out, everybody! I have a piece in this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education about “going global” in a bad job market.

As you know, I had a rather unusual solution to my post-graduatino unemployment. I moved to India. It was the right move for me at the time, but I also think moving to the developing world to wait out the depression can work for many Millennials. It is a pretty favela chic way to handle things, but thems the times we live in. And no matter what age you live in, having a broad global perspective makes you a better worker and a better person.

So check it out, and tell your friends.