I’m watching snow fall gently from the sky from Tyrhone’s Mum’s house in London, England, reflecting on the Rickshaw Run. I’ve spent the last few days in a winter wonderland, visiting the resident herd of deer in nearby Bushy Park and eating pub-lunches by the Thames. Today we visited Stonehenge, and as I marveled at the ancient, mysterious ruins, rising starkly from the snow-covered ground, I almost forgot that just a few days ago, I completed an exhausting 3,000 KM journey across the beautifully chaotic country of India.
Little boy in Gokarna, Karnataka, India
Before flying out to London from Indira Gandhi International Airport, I spent a night at a hotel in New Delhi. If you want to find a good deal on hotels see this website.
Stonehenge in the snow
I wondered, “Did the Rickshaw Run actually happen?”
Did we visit a group of desert nomads in Rajasthan; sleep outdoors at a restaurant without a name; break down in the crazy traffic of Ahmedabad; change a tire by the side of the road at dusk in Goa?
Did we nearly get side swiped by a jeep as we pulled into a ‘Cafe Coffee Day’ in Gujarat (the first opportunity for coffee in days), laughing off our near-miss as being totally worth the caffeine hit?
Did we then meet a wonderful Indian family from Pune, who presented us with a book of spiritual teachings, filling us with such a sense of love and delight just by being in their presence?
Did we then blow a gasket, which was replaced by a mechanic who was brought from a town 10 km away by a young student who was simply eager to help?
Did we find ourselves in paradise in southern Karnataka, at a beach-side resort where we swam in the ocean in the dark, gazing upwards towards constellations of brightly glowing stars?
Did we dine on a hotel rooftop in Northern Kerala, using an old curtain as a picnic blanket whilst the owner delivered delicious curries and garlic naan?
Did we pose for umpteen photos, sign the school workbooks of giggling children, and watch numerous strangers siphon fuel through the blocked lines of our auto-rickshaw with their mouths? Did we say ‘thank you’ countless times, for the kind deeds of too many strangers we shall never see again?
Did we shake our heads in disbelief at being saved from yet another jam; at the person who was there at the exact time we needed them?
Was my mobile phone, which I deemed lost forever, really handed in to the police in Udaipur?
Did we break down during a traffic jam in Northern Kerala in the heat of the day; did I think that the only sensible thing to do was drink a cold Pepsi from a stand across the road? Did the guy who sold me that Pepsi really get his friend to fix our rickshaw, getting us back on the road in a matter of minutes?
Did Kim start telling people she was from Iceland, because it was more fun to say than USA?
On our last night on the road, did a guy who was the spitting image of Carlton from The fresh Prince of Bel Air jump into our rickshaw to show us to a hotel that was ‘safe for women?’
And the answer is yes, all those things did happen, but also so many more things. And the wonder, awe, gratitude and laughter was interspersed with boredom, frustration, exhaustion, cold, heat and fatigue.
But very little fear.
I spent very little of the journey being afraid, whether behind the wheel or broken down on the side of the road. There were moments of uncertainty, of course, but throughout the course of this journey, through the many coincidences and gestures of selfless kindness we experienced, I was given the gift of faith.
In myself, in the goodness of people, in the utterly chaotic roads of India. In the fact that I’ll be okay, and that every moment has the opportunity to teach me something.
The journey wasn’t without its struggles, and yet the things I thought I’d struggle with, I handled well – the driving, the breakdowns, the traffic, the constant attention.
Being away from Tyrhone for so long, as well as being without the things that make me feel human, like sleep and time to myself, I didn’t handle so well.
But we made it. Amidst the mayhem, the meltdowns and the miracles that I experienced, I did it. I learned to drive an auto-rickshaw like a pro, traversed India in it with the help of my teammates, and learned more about myself and the world than I ever anticipated.
And I’d do it all again; a little older, wiser and with a lot more faith than I had before.
But first… SLEEP!
Thank you all for your positive words, messages and donations to Frank Water throughout the Rickshaw Run. It means more to me than I can say!
And thank you to everyone who subscribes to Sarah Somewhere, the story of my journey in the world. I have been experiencing some technical difficulties with my subscriptions, but hope to have everything on track again soon. Feel free to send me your feedback and suggestions!