Rickshaw Wallah, Rickshaw Wallah, Kahan Jayega?

autorick_main.jpgHop on a rickshaw in Kerala and get off in Darjeeling.

Do you have exciting plans for the winter holidays? Skiing in Aspen? Christmas in the Alps? New Year’s Eve in Rio?


According to the UK-based Institute of Adventure Research, the most exciting place you can be this December and January is India.

In a rickshaw.

For 2,000 miles.

On the first-ever Rickshaw Run.

“What better way to enjoy the Christmas holidays than two weeks of mountains, mud tracks, tropical heat, gin and tonics, cricket and that most noble of vehicular genius, the three-wheeled motorized rickshaw?” asks the Institute. “The Rickshaw Run is pretty simple. With no preparation and less luggage, one flies to the Indian Subcontinent and does one’s damndest to force 150cc of crap Indian engineering over 2,000 miles of questionable terrain in two weeks.”


The run, which starts in Kerala and ends in Darjeeling (“for a spot of tea”), is not for the sake of adventure alone. It’s “all about raising huge amounts of wedge … for a great charity.” [“Wedge” is Brit-speak for “cheese” or “cheddar,” which is, you know, “urban”-speak for money, as in Jay-Z’s “I check cheddar like a food inspector”—OK, so I just wanted an excuse to reference Jigga.]

Anyone can participate by creating a team (of 1? 2? 22? It doesn’t matter, sayeth the Institute—though members have to, you know, fit into the rickshaw)—each team just has to make a £650 donation to cover the rickshaw cost. “At the end of the run, their rickshaws will be handed to an NGO working in Siligury, monitored by Mercy Corps, who will distribute them to the most needy cases.” Of course, teams can raise additional funds for the charities of their choice, as well.

Who needs a rickshaw, you ask? According to the Institute, “Many autorickshaw taxi drivers are forced to live in a state of poverty because they don’t have the money to buy their rickshaw. They borrow the money or rent the rickshaw often at extortionate rates. It means that while they can earn a living from the taxi fares, a large amount of it, often more than half, goes to pay of the debt or pay the rent for the vehicle. Giving a rickshaw to a poor family is huge life changing gift that enables them to earn a living without the burden of in impossible debt.”

Institute-described “ninnies” need not apply: “Support? Of course we don’t provide any support. The Rickshaw Run is supposed to be an adventure. What sort of adventure would you have if we were following you in a truck with spare parts and a comfy bed? No, we must get out there into the world and get stuck in it. When you’re stuck, lost, and up $hit creek without a rowing implement is when you start to have fun and the last thing we want to do is stop you having fun!” And while there will be checkpoints across the country for rickshaw runners to check in and share war stories, there’s no set route: “You plan your route to your own particular taste. If you want deserts and mountains, it’s yours. If you want jungle, it’s yours, too.”

Americans are hoping for Good Korma

Many teams have already joined in the mad dash of adventure for a good cause, and they’ve adopted clever names to boot: She’s a Goa, Curry on Rickshaw, and my personal favorite, the American Good Korma.

Are you up for the challenge? Form your own team and set off for the Subcontinent. Sputtering across India in a rickshaw not your idea of fun? Support your favorite runners as they pursue a most worthy lovechild: adventure and a noble cause. Because, as the Institute puts it, “adventure can be a little elusive these days. Without the finances for space exploration, those of us of more reasonable means have to search that little bit further.”

November 18, 2006
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  1. November 19, 2006, 10:50 pm Pavani

    From the section on “Distance pimping”:

    They will not only be able to spruce your wheels up with a lick of paint but install all those essential extras such as a sound system and a patent pending cricket bat holder. Let your imagination run amuck.

    Interesting. If this part of the program works out like the pimped car tv show that inspired it, maybe some of those needy families will end up selling the pricey rickshaw accoutrements to finance other needs.

  2. November 23, 2006, 1:22 pm Curry on Rickshaw » Blog Archive » Shout goin’ out

    […] Thanks for the shout from Nirali Magazine!  The buzz is really starting! […]

  3. December 18, 2006, 4:21 am Nick Reid

    ‘The Dosa Boys’

    What do you get if you put an English professional gambler, a Kiwi television editor and a Vietnamese physicist together in a rickshaw for three weeks in India? Well, we’re about to find out…

    Kiwi Nick Reid, Englishman Ivan Phillips and Vietnamese born Andy Hoang have never met one another. A posting on an online noticeboard was the start of what we hope will become a beautiful friendship. The three make up ‘The Dosa Boys’, just one of thirty teams entered in the infamous Rickshaw Run.

    This Christmas holidays The Dosa Boys and their competitors will be driving a three wheeled motorized rickshaw with a top speed of 20 miles an hour. They will traverse 3000 miles of highways, desert sands, jungles, bustling cities, mountains, villages, mud tracks and the tropical heat of the Indian subcontinent in the first long distance rickshaw race ever held.

    The race was created to raise money for Mercy Corps, who alleviates suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities. From Cochin in the south to Darjeeling in the north east, the teams have 19 days to complete the route.

    Hamilton born Nick Reid is keen to share his adventures along the way, and you can keep up to date with the team’s progress before, during and after the race at http://dosaboys.blogspot.com/ He is both excited and understandably apprehensive about meeting for the first time and traveling with his team mates for three weeks in a small vehicle just big enough to fit three people in let alone there luggage through the Indian wilderness. ‘Well, I’m a television techie, Ivan is a pro gambler and Andy is a physicist. Quite a good combination I think – in fact we couldn’t have planned it better – that is, if we’d done any planning at all.’

    All three will be arriving in the southern Indian state of Kerala on Boxing Day to begin pimping their rickshaw before the 28 December 2006 start for what will be a hilarious nineteen days. The trio are seeking sponsors and contributors to help raise their target of 950 british pounds for Mercy Corps. To contribute to The Dosa Boys and help raise money for Mercy Corps, please go to http://www.justgiving.com/thedosaboys/

    To find out more about The Rickshaw Run visit http://www.rickshawrun.com