To Mumbai and Back in 6 days

Mumbai

Mumbai

That is Mumbai, but we’re in Delhi again. This quick journey South turned out to be semi-epic.

After having dinner and learning about the Sikh religion, we returned to the hotel turbanised and gifted. We received holy turbans, wristlets, prayer chains and a holy Sikh blade as well as tons of information about a different spiritual culture.

‘A beard is a gift you give your face. And a passport to awesome’

The Sikh are warrior spirits, and in the time before, they used to take off their protective turbans only for battle. They realised that the hair makes the head look larger, and therefore in the eyes of the enemy they seem more fierce. That means the power lies in the facial hair, and that a man without a beard is like a lion without it’s mane.

With power comes corruption, and therefore the metal wristlet on my right wrist (sword hand) is there to remind me not to use the hand for evil. An evil hand used for personal gain will not accomplish content in life, instead a protective hand will always protect the content in life.

The turban around my head protects my hair, my ears, and if necessary, my face. It is surprisingly good while riding the tuk tuk on the dusty roads.

The prayer chain is used to pray in the mornings, and each bead is given the intent, ‘Wah, hey, guru’, ecstasy beyond words, to remind the mind to think positively.

And the sword is carried at all times as a symbol of willpower and purification.

Just before learning all this, while waiting for our new brothers to come pick us up, we got a phone call from our Pakistan counsellor friend. Our visas had been approved, and we were to be back in Delhi asap. I received an email later that started with the words, Dear brother Pyry. I think this is the most peaceful way of starting a letter, and it should be used more ofter.

The next morning, after the lovely dinner, we contemplated whether to cancel the shipping and drive through Pakistan, or continue with it and go by foot. The shipping company had already started the shipping procedure and there were still so many question marks concerning Pakistan.

We tried to contact everyone we knew to get all possible information, but we couldn’t reach anyone. Juho was set on shipping, but Pyry was set on driving. We decided to see what the shipping company had to say.

Turned out that the shipping company had already ordered the container so there would be charges, but luckily the customs had not been started yet. This didn’t lean to either side, so we still didn’t know what to do. Then something unexpected happened.

Mustafa, the shipping agent, a man from India, told us to drive through Pakistan. This was an act of humanity, because it was against personal gain. Mustafa said that shipping is always and option, but driving through Pakistan is what our project is about. He encouraged us to fight on, no matter what happens. We will make it through driving, and fulfil this once in a lifetime dream the way it should be done. We should at least try, because if all else fails, shipping is always an option.

This was a clear decision, and something opened up in us. Teary eyed from the kind gesture, we offered to pay the charges that had come from our haste. Mustafa answered that we need not pay. He told us that this is part of business, and that sometimes these things happen. He knew that we need the little money we have more than him, so instead of taking our money, he gave us spirit to get home.

This was something so unexpected that all of the stress from India was released. It seems like one small humane gesture can make a huge change for the better in someone else’s life.

As a thank you, we would like to mention to all who are in need to ship vehicles to/from India, that there is a good hearted man in Mumbai called Mustafa, who works for the shipping company Sadikally Esoofally & Co. (Estd.1938). He does things effectively, knows how to deal with the infamous carnets, and it was a breeze dealing with him and his team. It was very welcomed after the horror of Kolkata.

Then, on that Tuesday, we left Mumbai to be in Delhi by 10 am Friday. It was already 2 pm so there was no time to waste.

On the first day we managed our destination which was a motel on the south side of Vadodara. We chose that because on the way we were there and it had absolutely fabulous food.

The second day we were supposed to drive an epic 800Km to Pushkar, but close to Modasa we had our first break down.

We had stopped for lunch and once finished we drove off.

Pyryhigwaystreetfood

After one kilometer the engine stalled and refused to start up again. It seemed like petrol wasn’t getting to where it was supposed to, but we didn’t know how to fix it. Almost 10,000 Km driven, it was about time to learn.

Hinaus

We managed to hitch a ride with a local auto-rickshaw who towed us to a mechanic in Modasa. You can probably imagine we gathered ourself quite a crowd.

mechanic pällistelyä

The problem turned out to be a blocked petrol tube and it was fixed with compressed air and while we were at it we decided to fix everything else as well.

The wire for the back charger was changed, a chipped metal bracket that holds the electrics was reattached, and the belt was tightened. We spent 3 hours learning about our engine as well as the locals.

mechanic

In the end we let the mechanic do a test drive with the tuk tuk around town and he drove around stopping every once in a while to show this strange phenomenon to his friends. He bought us some pidi cigarettes as a gift and drove back.

Once asking for the cost, the mechanic refused to take any money. Everyone was smiling so we accepted it as a gift. With humanity completely restored, we headed off for Pushkar.

Every once in a while the blockage came back, but this time wiser than before, we could unblock it by opening the petrol tube and blowing hard. We’ve also found out that if we clean the air filter often, our engine keeps it’s power. With a lack of air the petrol doesn’t burn properly and power is lost. Keeping air and petrol coming keeps the engine working effectively.

We had lost 3 hours of driving, so we only made it 100 Km South of Pushkar, to another roadside hotel. This was close to a beautiful small desert mountain village and they happened to have the best food we’ve had so far. I found a new favourite dish, though unfortunately I cannot remember the name. It starts with a K I think and there might have been an L.

On Thursday we drove all the way up to Delhi so we made it for our 10 o’clock appointment at the Pakistan High Commission. Once again the meeting at the Pakistan Embassy was superb. I’ve noticed that all of the Pakistani people I have met so far have all been honest and humble. Every place has it’s good sides and bad sides, but most countries cannot openly say that they have problems. Most prefer a path of illusion, but the counsellor we talked to told me that in Pakistan, they believe that in the end honesty will prevail. The country is not perfect, but they are still good people, hopefully.

We have now strengthened our tuk tuk, cleaned the suspension as well as everything else, and we are ready for the next unknown. By next week we will be in Pakistan continuing our adventure.

mechanic posse

Weighing Options

Pakistan is geographically in a spot that is extremely difficult to go around, with the Arabian Sea in the south, and the Himalayas in the north. Going over the Himalayas is not an option because our Tuk Tuk is not a trained mountain climber, and it would mean crossing Indo-Pakistan-Chinese borders that give way to Kashmir, which is closed off from foreigners. Going round south would mean going by boat, and to detour the Himalayas completely would mean driving all the way to the Peoples Democratic Republic of Laos.

We’ve figured we have 5 options. All of these are preliminary and we need to see how things play out a little before making any final decisions. This Bon Voyage feeling we have again, is waiting for that Carpe Diem moment, so we can strike when the time is right.

Here’s the choices.

1) Balochistan

The only roads to Iran go through Balochistan. It is the northwest province of Pakistan, bordering Afganistan in the north, and Iran in the west. The northern road from Quetta to the Iranian border town of Zahedan is the shortest and most commonly used, but it’s close to the Afganistan border and not wholly under the central governments control.

This area is known for it’s kidnappings, and foreigners are requested to have an armed convoy while travelling through.

This used to be our primary option, but now they have temporarily closed the road leading to Quetta because of the military operation against the Taliban they started last week.

2) South Balochistan

The southern road would probably be the safer route, but as far as we know, the road and the border crossing is closed for foreigners. The only way to find out if it’s passable is to go and try.

3) Karachi

Eastern Pakistan is relatively safe and we could cross from Amritsar to Lahore, drive south to Karachi, hire a dhow, and sail to Iran. This would allow us to learn a little about Pakistani food, and the sea voyage would be short as possible.

The problem with this option is that yesterday Mr. Tahir-Ul-Qadri arrived to Pakistan and added some flavour to the situation.

Tahir-Ul-Qadri is a cleric turned politician, and the leader of a moderate Islamic Party. He vows for a peaceful revolution, but his arrival to Pakistan seemed to have brought more tension than peace. His flight was diverted from Islamabad to Lahore because of clashes between his supporters and police in Islamabad.

This means that our visas are pending until the situation in Lahore is clear. We have 2 more options just incase.

4) Ferry

We’ve heard rumours that there is a ferry link between India and UAE. We’ve heard of one ferry going Chennai-Karachi-Dubai, and one Mumbai-Karachi-Dubai. Mumbai is far south, and Chennai even further, and it will take us days to drive there. This option would be risking it, because it is based on a rumour.

This leaves us with the final choice.

5) Shipping from India

We will do all we can to not do this again, but life’s not always fair is it.

Our closest port for shipping is in Ahmedabad, but Mumbai seems to have more options. Both are south and in the monsoon area, so time is not on our side.

This is the list so far and the best we’ve come up with. None of these options seem like a good one for the moment, so if anyone knows a thing or two that we don’t, now would be the opportune time to speak up.

Kokookko koko kokko. Koko kokkoko? Koko kokko.

Would you please build the whole bonfire.

The whole bonfire?

The whole bonfire.

That’s what the title means. It’s time for JUHANNUS!

Back at home people are fleeing the city as everybody heads to the countryside. It is truly a magical celebration of good company, good food, and good drink. During the weekend Finns will dance around bonfires, spank each other in the sauna with branches, do magic spells in the nightless night, drink vodka like water and drown in numbers.

Fatalities are known to happen, because Juhannus is a celebration for Ukko. He is The Man, symbolising fertility and strength, so games and competitions are typical, and when drunk, it sometimes goes a little overboard.

Here on this side of the world we have run into a similar situation that has completely gotten out of hand. Pakistan decided to see who’s toughest by going to war, and they’ve decided to have their full on military operation right on top of the road that we were supposed to be driving on.

This is a little more serious than how we like to take things, so we will gladly spend Juhannus here, on Finnish soil, in the safety of the Embassy.

Hopefully all of this manliness will be over by the beginning of next week, with as few casualties as possible, so we could be on our way again.

Just in case it’s not over, we are searching for detours.

 

A new hope

After an agonising few days of disproving every lie and every excuse, we finally came out with our Tuk Tuk. To this day, we haven’t had to pay a single cent to corruption, and we didn’t even have to pay for the detention charges. Victory!

It was however, one of the most frustrating things I have ever done in my life. The good thing is that I found a new side of myself. A side I have kept hidden all my life, because I have feared it.

I had to harness every ounce of willpower I had for three days straight so that we got the tuk tuk out. They delayed everything with lies, deceit, and accusations, and we had to counter every one with honour and respect. It was without a doubt the dirtiest game I have ever played, but we were the only ones that came out with a clear conscience.

lorry

Now we finally have our Tuk Tuk back, but only 3 days to get to Amritsar. We thought we’d leg it to Varanasi on the first day, Delhi the second, and the rest on the third and hopefully have 2,5 days to clear customs and get to Lahore. We had to promise not to film anymore in India to get our visas, so it’s a good thing to go quickly.

We left Kolkata at 5.30 with our 3 wheeled Panther, and weaved through the giant snakes of trucks. Our tuk tuk is just the right size to squeeze and manoeuvre while the beast weaves itself along.

Every so often a toll collection point came, but our tuk tuk seems to bring out sympathies from people so we only had to pay at one.

It was nice to know that we were heading home again, because the sun set where the road led to.

rekka ojassa

 

We rode in the dark for the last 3 hours, and I felt like Luke Skywalker. I had no choice but use the force most of the time, because we needed to make time by going an average of 60km/h, and visibility was next to nothing.

Everybody, and I mean everybody has the long lights on all the time, which glares the eyes and makes it almost impossible to see. Luckily the dust in the air reveals the magnificent beams of light heading to the heavens, leaving only silhouettes of the trucks, tractors, mopeds, bicycles and people, which can be used to navigate through. Someone having tail lights was a one-in-fifty chance.

What made it even more difficult, is that sometimes there was row of headlight all coming towards, and they seem to be wanting to pass from both sides. Some drivers here find it more effective to get home, driving against the traffic on the wrong side of the highway. Mainly motorbikes, and tractors, but every so often a truck comes towards.

Luckily we found an ambulance on alert,  and used them to show us the way. They had good lights and a patient in the back, so no bumps, but as fast as possible.

We arrived to Varanasi at 10 pm.

Same thing the next day to Delhi, and the next to Amritsar. We could make it, but it would be suicide.

We will rest a day in the city
that is said to have the longest running continuous population in all of the world, and take 1.5 days to drive to Delhi.

We will get new Pakistan visas from there.

Varanasi