It was a day of Indian-style happenstance today when the 13 teams of the Mumbai Xpress made their way from Banglore to Mysore. Nearly all of the teams had an encounter with the authorities, including the luggage truck. Though it is suspected that the reason for these encounters is that the rickshaws bear tags from Tamil Nadu (the capital of which is Chennai) and, as it were, there are what you might call “bitter feelings” between the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka. As one of the organizers said earlier today, “If they see you have plates from Tamil Nadu, they’ll find a reason to pull you over.” And so it was. Some teams got pulled over for simply appearing suspicious (after all, Europeans driving a painted rickshaw with stickers all over it through one of the smaller cities of India is not a common sight). Others were pulled over and asked for registration. The luggage truck was pulled over for being a truck on a road that didn’t allow trucks (despite the lack of signage). In all cases, negotiations and interactions with the police took place, and by the time everyone arrived in Mysore, we all had stories to tell.
As is common knowledge in India, cows are sacred, and it is almost just as bad, if not worse, to hit a cow with a car as it
is to hit a person. Therefore, to commemorate this fascinating idea in the world, participants were challenged to take their photos next to a cow on or near the road. One participant even paid 20 rupees to a man who insisted that if his Indian cow was going to be photographed, he would be collecting commissions. The pictures are fantastic and my favorite so far is Edit Mekler of the Historic Racing team from Hungary!
Other traffic hazards include Indian traffic. There is no rhyme or reason to how Indians drive. They just simply go. Generally, buses have the right of way, but most other “road rules” are considered guidelines. This hazard became hazardous today when a truck hit the rickshaw of one of the participating teams. The participants are both okay and definitely have a story to tell.
Tomorrow, we make the long trek into Mangalore. The day will start early and most of it will be spent driving. I, for one, anticipate quite a few break down calls and various direction questions. Therefore, I bid you adieu for to take my rest. Catch you in Mangalore!