Sangramsingh Salvi (26), Yogesh Desai (27) and Jayesh Shikarkhane (27) are no strangers to adventure. In December 2009, Desai and Shikarkhane spent three days without food and water on a beach in Goa, to test their survival skills. They caught shrimps and crabs from the sea and found a freshwater spring to quench their thirst. Their latest adventure, to complete a road journey from Shillong to Jaisalmer in an autorickshaw, is by far their most daring.
Organized by the UK-based company The League of Adventurists International Ltd, the Rickshaw Run was started in India in 2006—now, three races are held every year. Teams are given an autorickshaw, a start and end point and a deadline—the rest is up to the participants. The Adventurists believe in making travel less boring, so they throw in challenges such as riding local, makeshift vehicles—autorickshaws in India and tuk-tuks in Indonesia. The aim of these endeavours is to raise money for charity. This year’s Rickshaw Run, from 10-24 September, has 70 teams participating. The teams are required to submit a registration fee of £1095 (around Rs 80,500), and are given their rickshaws three days before the race so they can paint and jazz them up.
“We came across Theadventurists.com, and absolutely loved the idea of the rickshaw ride,” says Shikarkhane. “The autorickshaw is a joke, not an SUV. It’s not designed to go up mountains or for long-distance travel. It’s a toy, a tin can on three wheels, powered by the engine of a scooter. You have to be careful about fuel and punctures—what if the engine breaks down or if the brakes fail? Just basic manoeuvring is a task because it’s flimsy, and topples over easily,” he says.
While Shikarkhane and Salvi are childhood friends, Desai joined the gang in junior college in Pune. They make an interesting team: Desai is a mechanic who can work without tools. “Once we got locked outside our farmhouse in Pune, and Desai unscrewed a window with a spoon and we got in,” recalls Shikarkhane. He’s the navigator of the team. An engineer by profession, Desai has previously worked with Mahindra and Mahindra and currently works with his father in their diesel generators business.
(Clockwise from above) Sangramsingh Salvi, Jayesh Shikarkhane and Yogesh Desai.
Salvi, who is studying for the UPSC exam, is an amateur heavyweight champ, his friends joke. He has a talent for clearing roadblocks. Shikarkhane works with Reliance MediaWorks as promo producer. His interests lie in film-making and the environment. He’s the survival toolkit of the team, with knowledge of all sorts of survival techniques, including hunting and cooking.
Photo: Arne Hückelheim and Jan Hückelheim/ Wikemedia Commons
The team aptly call themselves Teen Tigaadu Kaam Jugaadu (www.teentigaadu.com). While the original phrase is teen tigaadu kaam bigaadu, they decided to replace bigaadu with jugaadu. “Jugaad means doing something by hook or by crook and that’s what we intend to do. As each one has a talent in making jugaads in his own way, the name works perfectly,” says Shikarkhane.
Their route will start in Shillong, cross Bhutan, Uttarakhand, Haryana and enter Rajasthan. “But our route is very sketchy because on a trip like this you can’t plan down to the last detail. There’s danger of engine breakdown, brake failure, sickness, altitude sickness, and simply if the rickety little thing will pull up mountain roads,” says Shikarkhane.
And that’s not all. The trio’s target includes raising £500 each for two non-governmental organizations. “We decided to help two projects that we believed in—Frank Water Projects and the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI),” Shikarkhane says. Frank Water Projects is a UK-headquartered organization which runs more than 70 water purifying projects in south India.
“WPSI works with the government in wildlife protection; their main work deals with tiger protection. They help train forest guards, work against poaching and wildlife traders. We like their work because it is important to work with the government rather than in isolation,” Shikarkhane says. The three friends will be carrying a film made by WPSI along with them and hope to stop on the way and show the film to villagers on small projector screens. “Maybe we can educate people on the way,” says Shikarkhane.
While the Teen Tigaadus have already raised £951 for their charities from friends and family, they’re still looking for sponsorship for their own trip.“We’re approaching corporates to raise money. That’s what’s different about this trip. It is not just for ourselves. It’s keeping the spirit of adventure alive and helping causes we believe in,” says Shikarkhane.