Rickshaw Run Day 7

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Starting point: Mahad, Maharashtra
Finishing point: Kudal, Maharashtra
Distance covered today: ~320km
Total distance covered: ~1900km
Number of breakdowns: 0 (touch wood), but we did have to stop for a mechanic to replace a screw in Robbie’s wobbly nose

Mahad to Kudal. After our terrifying night-driving experience of the previous evening, we were on the road earlier than any day before: 07:30. India was looking her best. All misty, swirling mists against dark rolling hills; shafts of dawn light breaking through the roadside trees; groups of girls and boys making their way to school; lone farmers leading their buffalo to pastures; quiet, expansive, empty roads. Our love affair with the South continued.

As the early morning cool gave way to a stifling midday heat, Robbie began to struggle in the face of Maharashtra’s punishing hills. The fastest rick on the road was now panting uphill in 2nd gear. The towns seemed to grow dustier and ever further apart. And as the light started to fade, we all quietly worried that we would be on the road in the dark once again.

Then, like an oasis in the desert, we arrived in the town of Kudal. A funny-looking concrete oasis with a litter problem. This is India. We chose the best hotel in town: the RSN Executive. We can only assume that the person who named the place had a sense of irony. This was the worst hotel of our trip so far. The floor was dusty; the bed linen was dirty; the ‘Indian-style’ bathroom had no shower, only a tap and 2 sets of big and small buckets (one for your general body and one for your bum – choose the wrong set at your peril); the restaurant was filthy, dingy and empty save for a blue disco light and thumping house music. Had we truly reached Claire’s limit of shit hole now?

We ate dinner outside at a roadside snack restaurant (Erica: ‘I prefer outside dirt to inside dirt any day’) – delicious dosas, uttapams and Pav Bhaji – thank Shiva for Southern India cuisine – and contemplated the delightful thought of our arrival in Goa tomorrow and a day off at the beach to follow.

Phrases of the Day
Maharashtra has hand painted signs along the roadside to encourage safe driving. They’re charming. But they don’t work. Here are some of our favourites.

Safety on the roads, safe tea at home
Highways not dieways
Speed thrills but kills
Drive with care, life has no spare
Speed is like a knife, it cuts life

Revelation of the Day
We drive up behind a motorcycle and sidecar. Does the rider only have one leg, or is he riding side saddle? We couldn’t tell. We pulled alongside. He only had one leg. He was riding a motorbike at 65kph. The sidecar was there to provide stability. Ingenious.

This man’s missing limb reminded us of our experiences of extra body parts earlier in the run.

A cow with a 5th leg dangling from its hump at the back of its neck on a Mumbai street. We don’t have photographic evidence but this is for real. Maybe the locals thought his extra leg made him extra holy. Holier than cow.

A hotel worker with a 6th digit protruding from his wrist. He helped mend our silencer. It was a successful fix, so clearly the extra digit came in handy.

Morning mist:

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