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The great auto fun begins now

After the initial 'war injuries' acquired after changing gears on their rickshaws, participants now gear up to cross the Nepal border, reports Neha Dara. Monsoon Rickshaw Run

kolkata Updated: Jun 27, 2007 01:51 IST
Neha Dara
Neha Dara
Hindustan Times

You would think they were comparing war injuries. They were, in a manner. Left hands full of blisters from changing gears on their newly acquired autorickshaws. Some hands were just stiff, others already had blisters after a day of driving through the heartland of West Bengal.

At half-past-noon on Sunday, the 22 teams participating in the Monsoon Rickshaw Run were flagged off from the La Martiniere School in Kolkata. The night before, Tom Morgan, founder of the League of Adventurists that organises the Run, had said: “Most accidents happen in the first 10 minutes, if you get past those, there’s a reasonable chance you’ll make it.”

In the first 10 minutes on Sunday, as the teams were escorted out of Kolkata by police jeeps, people had their fair share of accidents: nicked by a lorry, blew a tire, etc.

Chris and Owen from London said, “Just as we left the school, we ran out of fuel. It took us 10 minutes to figure out how to switch to reserve. By the time we got to a pump, we lost our escort and spend 3 hours trying to make our way out of the city.”

Few of the teams moved in convoys, especially after dark.

Colin Bradbury looked relieved. “This wasn’t as tough as I though it would be,” he said. He got a snort in reply from Andy, who said: “My gear kept getting stuck, and I couldn’t figure out why.”

Jayanto Mukherjee, manager of the Hotel Sargam, couldn’t believe his windfall. What has been a slow evening suddenly turned interesting as 10 gaily painted autos pulled into the hotel’s parking lot, one by one.

Chris and Owen met up with Barnaby and Jamie, who were slowed down by a flat tyre, and decided to spend the night in Krishanagar, 60 km before Behrampore. They set up their tents in the lot of a petrol pump.

At the time of writing, the teams were pushing to reach Siliguri, so that they can cross the border. They have been given a three-day window by the Nepalese government to cross the border at Kakarvitta for the next leg of their journey.

First Published: Jun 26, 2007 02:01 IST