The Rickshaw Run has been but a distant dream for so long, too far into the future to be real. I’ve been terrified, excited and numb about it, depending on what day I’ve been asked. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the process of starting this blog with Hannah and Kim, getting to know them via email, and raising a shed load of money for Frank Water. I’ve been touched by the generosity of our community of readers and have been blown away by the messages of support and encouragement we have received.
But the thing is, now we actually have to do this.
And right now, I’m not sure how to feel about that. As most of you know, I arrived in Goa a few days ago. My trip to India was planned around the Rickshaw Run, and I am lucky enough to be able to stay at Hannah’s lovely house in Goa. It’s wonderful here, very relaxed and chilled out, basically the EXACT OPPOSITE of what we will be experiencing in just over 11 days time.
Even the cows are relaxed.
So whilst part of me drifts around the beaches of Patnem and Palolem, sipping lime soda and searching for the best masala chai, another part, the part of me where terror resides, screams,”Do you realize what you are about to do?! ARE YOU COMPLETELY FUCKING NUTS?!”
Hannah, on the other other hand, is completely calm and full of faith. I don’t think she has a single worry about the journey ahead, which makes one of us at least. Kim is flying across the world to do this with us, from Rio, to Frankfurt, to Delhi – a trans-continental milk-run of epic proportion. It will be her and Brian’s first time to India ever, and I can only imagine the roller-coaster of emotion she must be going through.
Every time I walk past an auto-rickshaw, a little shiver runs through me, an equal mix of excitement and fear. I stare at them parked along the dusty streets here, poke my head through the windows and try to imagine myself in the drivers seat with my team mates in the back. The image I have is of a more confident me – Queen of the Indian highways with cat-like reflexes and a hardened self-assurance that comes from experience and time.
Only, I have had very little experience behind the wheel of a motorized tricycle (read: none), let alone any vehicle other than the 2001 Hyundai Accent I sold before going traveling. And as Christmas approaches, time is becoming a dwindling commodity; Hannah and I fly to Jaipur to meet Kim and Brian on the 26th of December.
We took an ‘auto’ to the nearby town of Chaudi the other day for supplies, and though it was only a small, one-road commercial hub, the streets were a chaotic mix of cars, bikes, trucks, people and cars.
“Shit,” I thought to myself, “We are going to be rattling through hundreds of towns like this, most of which will be on a much larger scale of crazy!”
I’ve received so many lovely messages of support lately via my own blog, yet I feel I must make clear one thing: I’m not the sort of person to do something like this. Let it be known that I am fearful and neurotic to the core (in case you hadn’t noticed), and that I have to actively overcome negative thoughts and emotions almost every day. I do not see myself as adventurous, and cannot imagine ever being fearless.
The real journey I am on is one of self-acceptance, and accepting my fear is part of this. Not giving into it, mind you, but accepting it.
The key for me is to attempt to stay present in the moment (which seems to be something Hannah does exceptionally well), and assure myself that all is well, as it has always been. Whilst I am afraid of doing something which is completely out of my comfort zone, I am also very excited to begin. I know that once ‘driving an auto-rickshaw’ is something I can put on my list of experiences, it will deflate the power of the big fear bubble that is currently hanging over me and casting a shadow over my excitement.
I know this due to all of the wonderful gifts I have received in the last ten months of travel. Gifts I never would have known about if I’d given into fear and just stayed home, settling for a life that didn’t make me happy.
Hannah and Kim have been a big part of my journey. Hannah’s unwavering optimism keeps me buoyant, and Kim’s dedication to her dreams inspires me endlessly. Soon, we will putting all of that to the test, and embarking on a literal journey together, rather than just a figurative one.
And despite being afraid of the unknown, I know in my heart that very soon I’ll be in the moment, rattling along a desert highway in a three wheeled tin can; my fear an ever-decreasing speck in the rear-view mirror that eventually disappears from sight.
Bring it on.
Guess what? We have reached our fundraising target!!! That’s right, you guys have raised over 2,000 GBP, or US$3,400 for clean water charity, Frank Water! Hopefully we can still raise more money, which will go towards community-based water filtration systems in rural villages. Visit our charity page!
Any other support you can give us is very much appreciated, whether a tweet, Facebook mention or a donation!