Nishil Reminisces his time in India!

After about 12 months of planning, a couple of hours of training and two weeks on the road we have finally done it. Words cannot describe what an experience it was. Driving in India was not easy, at times we were playing a game of chicken with the infamous Indian truck drivers and bus drivers coming at you from the opposite direction, whilst avoiding potholes and ditches on the side of the road and watching out for cars cutting you up from behind. Sitting behind the driver, acting as a spotter was just as important, and at times if not more, than being a safe driver. One thing that we had to pick up on very quickly was that you had to be aggressive, the more cautious you are the less chance you have of getting anywhere! I think my favourite drive of the whole trip has to be stretch up to Manali, driving up and down the mountains with some of the most breathtaking scenery I have ever seen.

The fact it was in a Rickshaw, the most popular form of transport in India, just made it all the more amazing. We were very lucky too, we had virtually no problems on the road, other than a punctured tyre and Nirav breaking the clutch cable in Basanti! Actually to be honest, any little problems we had involved Nirav. On the second day we were driving through a toll booth and Rickshaw one had gone through. Rickshaw two stopped and waited for the barriers to go up before going through. Then Nirav being the Nandu he his decided to power through in Rickshaw 3, with the barrier coming crashing down on top of, yet again, Basanti and snapping in half. But instead of stopping to see what happened, he just decided to drive off and avoid any confrontation. Best decision I think to be honest! (Sorry man, but I think you know that I’m NEVER going to let you forget this!)

One thing that really amazed me, was the kindness of the locals. Whilst there are a lot of people in India, who want to cheat you, when the locals heard what we were doing and why we were doing it, they all wanted to help in their own way. The morning we left, Shree Navchetan Andhjan Mandal, the school we started at, organised a press conference for us and as we drove off we had the Indian papparazzi following us on bikes wanting to get pictures of us! Everyone was so appreciative of what we were doing. The reception we got once we reached Manali, I have to say was something else. As soon as we entered the city, we had all the locals awaiting our arrival in the town centre, wanting to get snaps of us and congratulate us on finishing the journey.

Rickshawala Nishil taking over the FINAL stretch!

Since we’ve all been back, the one question everyone keeps asking is what was your favourite part of the whole trip? Whilst I am tempted at times to say the IPL Match in Mumbai, and I think all the Rickshawalas will agree with me when I say this, my favourite part was the party with the children of the Himalayan Buddhist Cultural School in Manali the day we reached. It was as simple as a guy on his laptop with two speakers playing music out in the open in the school playground. The children were so excited, that they hung onto your hands not wanting to let go, whilst having the time of their lives and letting their hair down.

India is one of the most amazing countries I have ever been too. The vast range of cultures between each town, each city and each state shows the rich tradition entrenched into history of this country. Mumbai is known for its notorious traffic, millions of slums and as the bollywood hotspot. But when you travel a few hundred kilometres north to Chandigarh you are in a totally different environment. It doesn’t feel like you are in India. There are no slums, no rubbish on the streets, no street kids coming up to you begging for a few rupees. This is my favourite thing about India, the fact that no matter where you go, you will always find something different to see, something different to experience. However, as Amir Khan’s Satyameva Jayate programme on Star Plus highlighted there are a lot of drawbacks too. Child labour,  forced marriages, lack of education and gender inequality to name a few. However, steps are being made to change this. A lot of people are working to try and improve the current situation, and with such a huge population of 1.2 billion it is not going to be an easy job. It near impossible. And no matter now much you may think otherwise, every little helps. Every child deserves a fighting chance for a better future and opportunities to better themselves and their lives.

Our aim was to help change the lives of hundreds of underprivileged children, whilst having an adventure of a lifetime and see India for its true colours. However, I think it is safe to say this was much more than that.

Nishil

Photos by Bhavik Haria, Cincera Productions. Like them on Facebook.

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