05.08.2008 - 05.08.2008 24 °C
Bangalore - Facts
Pop 5.7m. Capital of Karnataka
- Bangalore has the highest density of traffic in India.
- Bangalore is famous for its dog bites, an average of 12 people are bitten by stray dogs per MINUTE!
- Bangalore also has the highest number of pubs in all of India, which is a good thing.
India – Country under construction
This morning we visit a school in Roopena Agrahara village on the outskirts of Bangalore where we are warmly greeted with traditional blessings for a good journey while flower garlands are draped around our necks. We learn that it costs just $50 to feed and educate a student for an entire year and parents are often only persuaded to send their children, especially the girls, if a free meal is provided.
Leaving the hot and dusty school parking lot it’s every man for himself as we tackle the roads head on. It’s hard to describe the traffic in Bangalore and it’s even harder to imagine how we manage to find our way through it and out the other side. There are few road signs and frequent road diversions, our maps are meaningless and verbal directions are almost hopeless when the language isn’t shared. But sheer determination, combined with a steady flow of adrenalin, allows us to ‘drive like an Indian’ and actually enjoy the city experience for the first time with little fear.
We stall up a steep hill as we leave one highway to join another on an unfinished patch of road, strewn with potholes and roadwork debris. The backseat passengers eagerly jump out to push and a temporary lighter load helps us reach the top with a protesting scream from first gear.
As we bump along the unpaved and uneven roads, we are greeted by smiles and waves. Some people just stare in amazement, others blink and laugh, but mostly we are welcomed and encouraged so we wave back with the same enthusiasm. I don’t think any of us expected the people of India to be as interested in us as we are in them.
Motorcycles drive dangerously close as drivers take our picture on their mobile phones. People lean out of their car windows to shake our hands and to pass us newspaper articles of the rally. Truck drivers do a double take when they see a rickshaw with a woman at the helm. The fuel pump attendants smile when we tell them where we have come from, then laugh and shake their heads in disbelief when we tell them how far we are going.
The challenge for the day is at the incredible monolith and Jain temple at Sravanabelagola. We already know we won’t arrive back in time for flag-down so we decide to forfeit today’s points and take the detour and climb the 600 steps to see the largest monolith in the world.
We have just filled up with fuel, only 10km short of our destination Hassan, when once again our trusty steed unexpectedly loses power. It’s late, starting to get cold and although we are on a lonely road we still manage to attract attention from passers by in the dark. Despite our headlight having the wattage of a candle we turn it off to save power and push our vehicle off the road before considering our options. Fortunately before too long the Hungarian team pulls up behind us and clearly knowing more about rickshaw breakdowns than we do, they methodically go about checking every inch of our engine. The verdict is a carburettor full of oil due to a poor mix at the last gas station.
For every litre of petrol we need 100ml of oil, both need to be mixed together well as they enter the tank. This is not always easy when the oil comes in small 10ml sachets and no funnel is at hand. A tank refill is often followed by a vigorous rocking of the rickshaw from side to side in a final attempt to mix the fuel.
Fortunately the problem is easily rectified by unscrewing the carburettor, disconnecting the fuel pipe and flushing out the concentration of oil with a little petrol. Wearing a head torch to assist the dim head light, it’s not long before we are on our way, our late arrival resulting in disqualification - the 3rd day in a row!
Fuel stops: 4 stops, 25 litres, Rs 1,780 (£22)