The first blown tire

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Poor Monkeys in Agra

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Bathing the Zefant

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Some thoughts at night in Assam

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A bottle of beer for our brave Zefant …or two

After our brave Zefant has carried us so well over these hard 3000km, he has very well deserved a bottle of beer …or two…

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Brake replacement in Ajmer

In Ajmer, our brakes decided to give out once again. We tried to loosen them several times:

Shortly after however, they had tightened up again and it does actually rather slow down when driving with your brakes fastened…..

A mechanic on the roadside had a go at them, which resulted in the complete failure of our brakes a few kilometers later.

That wasn´t really acceptable either! We decide to try another mechanic:

We get new brake pads and all the parts replaced the last mechanic damaged.
In India, brake pads are changed individually – the break shoe stays on!
First, the old brake pads are knocked off:

…then new rivets attached:

(using a spanner, off course!)
Fantastic breaks were the result of this cure……one just has to find the right mechanic who knows what he is doing…..

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Jaipur and the best mechanic of all times

Here comes  a bit of belated travel news from Jaipur.

….after a badly executed repair in Agra, a small piece of copper inside the clutch was worn through – this made it impossible for us to disengage the clutch when changeing gears. That wasn´t a problem in one of the higher gears but simply impossible when starting. We got used to having put in 1st gear, push and once the motor was running and the rickshaw moving, quickly jump in as it would not be able to stop again… city traffic rather annoying as stops were quite frequent and the procedure had to repeated each time.
It turned out that there was a holiday with a big parade in the city, all shops were closed and we could no  get the elusive little copper part – which we didn´t even know we needed at the time…
The rickshaw driver Jitendra became our savior, taking us to his 70+ year old mentor, who had possibly trained near all of Jaipur´s mechanics. His eye sight was failing, which kept him from doing the work himself but from sheer experience, he knew right away what the problem was. We took our rickshaw to his home where he summond his sons, who were searching the entire house for the elusive little copper part, remembering that there should be one of them left over from the olden times.

Many a part came to light, however, not the one we were looking for. This caused a further circle of friends being activated, who drove to their shops in the middle of the night on a public holiday to retrieve the missing part and sell it to us. Only then, the mending of our rickshaw  got under way, personally executed by one of the suns of the old master mechanic.

Fixed at last! With a fully functional clutch, we carried on to Ajmer:

The clutch made it all the way to Jaisalmer, even though we had to keep refilling it with oil as a gasket was missing).

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We Won!

Even though we arrived with the last batch of teams, we still won!
How this happened?
We were awarded the “Golden Camel” for the best effort of decorating our rickshaw.
If it actually was the most beautifully done one, others will have to decide………

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Varanasi Press Coverage

Our arrival and the night we spent in Varanasi was a memorable event, with amazing people, and we must write a seperate, long article about it all, once we get the time to do it.

Here are a few newspaper clippings from the day after:

To highten your excitement, we would like to share with you that we were personally guided through night time Varanasi by Lenin and Che on a motorcycle:

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Cable Fires on Rickshaw Tyres

At least today we definitely wanted to make it to Varanasi! But first we had to fix our poor Zefant rickshaw which had been badly damaged during the last night. Switching gears was nearly impossible and driving felt like one of the rear tires was square instead of round.

Luckily we found a mechanic on the road, however nearly drowning in the mud. That poor mechanic had to look for his spanners and nuts in the inch-deep puddles and had to pay attention that no small parts fell in to never be seen again:

The biggest problem was a broken engine mount, which was the reason for the engine to rotate itself on every single roation and then hit back on the frame. It’s a miracle that it did not get completely destroyed when drove like this for surely 50-100 kilometers. The broken rubber enginge mount could not be sourced. Instead it has been replaced by a simple screw. That should do until Varanasi…

We were too slowed down to reach before the onset of night but at least we were moving – even occasionally without rain. We contacted Dr. Lenin, the chairman of PVCHR in Varanasi saying we were about to arrive there.

In a village about 50 km before Mohania, we felt sorry for the poor people there, who had to suffer the awful smell of burning plastic.

Unfortunately, shortly after, our horn stoped working, followed in quick succession by lights and windscreen wipers.

A glance under the bonnet showed that WE were the actual source of that awful burning plastic smell – our cable harness had been reduced to a smoldering heap.

Since it was almost completely dark by now and it just started raining again, we decided to put the truck spotlight to the front of the rickshaw with a couple of spare brackets and newly found screws. Quickly it was connected to the generator and we finally had some light! Mac Gyver would have been proud of us! At the back, Benjamins torch, turned to flickering mode, makes for a great taillight! 

Since the windshield wipers are out of action, too, and it is by now poring with rain, we decide to take out the windshield altogether in order to be able to see anything at all. This gets is soaking wet in seconds BUT we manage to get to Mohania, where we find a hotel, which is fully booked and sports the most wonderful manager, who gives up his room for us – marvellous!

Tomorrow we will make Varanasi!

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