Teesra.org : Our New Blog

By now I’m sure you bunch have grown pretty tired of my incessant rickshaw ranting. Sadly this will do nothing to dull our words, our pictures and audio – and we have been working hard in the sidelines to find a home for are adventures. Therefore, it gives us much happiness to announce the launch of Teesra.org . A blog that chronicles all our rickshaw escapades, which Megha (she is such a sweetheart) happily volunteered to design for us and what a beautiful job she has done.

Yes so ahead give Teesra a spin, grab a feed and be dazzled by our collective greatness.

Pictures on Flickr as always

Rickshaw Run tracked by Mobiance

Guest Post : Rickshaw Driving 101

It makes me proud to present to you Trivial Matters first ever Guest Post - by none other then our very own New Argonaut Shez .

Annoucning "Rickshaw Run" Aspirations
[Our Logo - Illustration : Mom]

When Neha bounced up to me (with all her usual Neha exuberance), announcing that Akshay and her wanted to go on this race called “the Rickshaw Run” and they thought I would be the ideal third person for this adventure. I thought she had more screws missing in her head than I do. Which meant she had to be stark raving mad, because I’m pretty damn crazy!

Well after a couple of hours of cajoling and convincing (which Miss Dara excels at), I bent. I gave in and asked my boss for permission to throw caution to the wind and ride a three wheeled demon machine into the unknown.

That was sometime in May. Since, Akshay and Neha have done remarkable things to raise funds for this adventure. While I (the lowly third and left wheel of the team) took my begging bowl to every friend and family member I could think of who loves me enough to slide a hand into their pockets and find all the lose change jangling about and part with it. Between us we have almost reached our target figure. We are still short, but adventures hang on hope and guts…and the three of us we have plenty of both.

All that said. The most important stage of preparation has begun. Our rickshaw lessons.
Well for those of you who have read my full name or know it…you would have guessed that I’m from a Muslim family. I’m not a practicing Muslim myself but there are moments when Islam waggles an index finger at me, followed by a wink and a nod. The first step of our journey was just that sort of occasion.

It was a Friday and I had hardly slept the night before. I was shacked up in a friend’s flat in the South. Rickshaw class had been scheduled for 10:00am in the morning, at a motor school near Lucky’s in Bandra. At about 9:15am I called Neha to tell her I would be late. Turned out my phone call woke her up. Friday is Miss Dara’s day off. On Friday Neha sleeps. Wild horses can’t drag her out of our flat.

So I tried calling Mr Mahajan. Suprises, surprise…Mr Mahajan had yet to rise!
Well in groggy tones we decided to catch breakfast and then a lesson. Giving our front wheel (Miss Dara) time to spin into motion and arrive.

Rickshaw Riding 101
[The Afzal Motor School Rickshaw sputters as Shez revs the engines at Bandra Kurla Complex]

Akshay and myself are hungry monsters all the time. We parked ourselves at a restaurant in Bandra with a salad bar. Pilled one plate with the veggy salady things, one with the non-veggy saldy things, took two empty plates and between us ate enough salad for five people!

Neha finally walked in. Just as the rain began to break…she was also just in time to eat leftovers that might have gone to waste. Akshay and myself have found Neha’s can be very useful to have around (Wink!Wink!)

After a little more procrastination and lazy stretching we made our way across Bandra to Afzal Motor Training School. We trudged through a slow Bombay drizzle, slush filled and crowded, squeezing along allies, passing mosques, vegetable sellers and butcher shops. Till finally we caught sight of the Afzal’s board and the little grey stead that would take the beatings of our inexperience.

Faisal a lanky friendly guy with the patience of a Sufi saint (and a comfortable easy manner that remains unperturbed by anything his students may do), was to be our Rickshaw Guru.

He seemed amused by us at first. As the lesson progressed caught he was infected by our enthusiasm to learn. In fact he soon developed a beam of pride because he had a guy with a fancy camera and two girls learning in his rickshaw.

Rickshaw Riding 101
[Neutral, Clutch, First the gear change - a gentle tug at the accelerator and shez is off. Neha watches on and gives encouragement - quizzing Faisal at every opportunity. ]

Akshay and myself were both nervous and a bit petrified before lesson number one. We had finally made our start at about 3:30pm. I had an appointment at 4:00pm. Despite the lack of time I couldn’t bring myself to be the first one off the starting block. Akshay mustered up his brave side and was the first one to learn how to start, change gears and take turns. He wasn’t bad. Thanks to him my yellow lily livered feeling subsided. I slid into the front seat next to Faisal. He ran me through the gears. The importance of letting off the clutch slowly as you accelerate and leaving the accelerator when you change gears. It was a quick lesson. I learnt how to take turns and listen to the engine for smooth gear changes. I rode through the relatively calm areas of Bandra Kurla complex before I ran off to an appointment I was already late for.

Rickshaw Riding 101
[Neha studies the inner heart of our little toaster.]

My first lesson alone was at 4:00pm on Saturday. Neha and Akshay had skipped town for some fund raising and a break. So I grabbed a hold of my bestest friend in this lifetime. The lovely Miss Tara Sapru and marched through the slush once more to Afzal motor driving school.

Rickshaw Riding 101

The ever punctual Faisal was there waiting for me with a Salaam Ailekum and a smile.
He ran us out to the main road and handed over his trusty stead to me. He perched himself on the wide seat next to me. In case things got hairy.

Rickshaw Riding 101

Through the thick of Bandra traffic I puttered along, blocking off car and bus drivers at intersections, while I sweated through gear changes.

Then came the real acid test. Faisal grinned and informed me it was time to make his baby climb in second gear up Bandra’s steepest slopes and roll down in third without killing anyone! I succeed 

So do I think we are ready? Hell yeah! Race Rickshaw Run say hello to team Teesra Paiiya!

Meet the Team.
[Teesra Paiya Photo : Faisal Quereshi ]

The Donations are still open - so if you wish offload some extra change to charity - here is something to help.

Next Stop Calcutta, expect updates....

Previous Post here

Announcing 'Rickshaw Run' Aspirations

Update :

Thank you

Beth, Karmadude, Babasko (twice), Nick , Megha, Kaushik , Sivashankar, Ash, Gvenum, Naveen*,Shiva, Shane,'Peter and Emily*',Krishna*, Farah, Prem, Kathryn, Rajeev, Richard, Tehmina and the Pai Family in Mysore for sending us some money. Who's next

Also thank you Amit, Rash*, Megha, Desipundit*,Chugs*,Shiva* Sonia , Peter and Prem for the shout out.

And Yes you can also find us on Facebook

Expect pictures and notes from our first rickshaw lesson soon !!!


Mobiance is a tech start-up that is letting us give their fleet tracking technology a whirl and Hence allowing you to track our progress real-time during the duration of the run. Check them out.

Mobiance Logo

Listen to my Podcast Interview on the Kamla Bhatt Show. [mp3]

A Few months ago me and two of friends of mine got the crazy idea of volunteering ourselves into a race that involves driving over 3,750 km across India in the Monsoons over the Himalayas - if that wasn't harrowing enough we thought we'd do it in an mobile toaster on wheels - 3 wheels to be exact - yes we plan to ride an auto-rickshaw across India through torrential rains across the Himalayas.

No seriously - it is called Rickshaw Run

The run will take us deep into the heart of India. Once there we will travel through the Indian heartland in a transport that by all means Indian. By reaching a multitude of challenging way points through large stretches of grueling terrain, completing physical and intellectual exercises, we hope to complete the Run to our satisfaction.

The event, organized by the London-based Institute of Adventure Research, is intended to raise money for charity (learn more about the organizers - here ). The Run started last year with a drive from Cochin to Darjeeling, but not one of the participating teams was Indian. We’re trying to change that this time.

The Route

Starting from: Calcutta along the length and breath of the mighty Himalayan range, we will be taking on mountains, forest, jungles, wild plains and just about everything India can through at us and our almost useless vehicle. We can A spend your whole trip on tiny dirt tracks in the Nepalese mountains at or B thunder over to the deserts of Rajasthan before making the final push to the north and the hills.

Ending: in Manali high up in the hills.

Take a more detailed look at our Route here.

Meet The Team :

It's a four member consisting of bunch of rather interesting personalities. I'd think you'd agree.

Firstly there is this chap called Akshay - namely me.

Akshay Mahajan began his freelance career at the age of 19, when he quit engineering college and jumped on to a freight train for 200kms and sold photos about the experience on the internet . Two years later, Akshay is still wandering the country with camera and pen in hand. He mostly earns his money as a self schooled photojournalist, versatile in style with a natural eye for colour, tone and composition (sic!). His work has been published in a number of local and international publications and has documented a number of events culminating in an exciting and varied body of work. Akshay blames his parents for his restless feet; at every opportunity, they were off exploring the country but for some reason never made it to Goa, an omission that he put right recently [I'll put up some picture soon I promise].

He hopes to take a lot of pictures and expects do a lot of the navigation not by choice but because of the fact that he is the only male member on the team.

And we have Shez

Shaizia Jifri is the oldest in the group age wise. But definitely has all symptoms of one suffering from Peter Pan syndrome. Which means she'll never say no to an adventure. Shaizia or Shez, as she is fondly known, works in a film production house. Which means she lives a life filled with crazy hours and is constantly pushed to make the seemingly impossible, possible. From the age of eighteen she has driven vehicles long distance and is no stranger to long hauls and basic mechanics. In fact she has calculated that she has driven approximately 260,000 kilometres in her lifetime. Which for a wee woman of twenty-five is quite an impressive figure.

Shez is full of energy and has the stamina to go on and on. She takes much pride in the fact that she is stronger than she looks. Pint size and full of beans Shez is the left wheel on this three wheeled adventure.

Outlook magazine called her a New Argonaut - whatever that means.

And there is Neha

Neha has always been the sensible one. All rounder in school: good in studies, basketball team member, magazine editor. She's the friend everyone's mother loved. She always liked writing and started interning with the Hindustan Times when she was in class nine, so it was no surprise when she started working with the paper right out of college. But that's when things got a little random. After about a year and a half on the job, she decided to move cities, "so she could see a new one", and landed in Bombay. Now, she wants to do the Rickshaw Run and she has a good many reasons that she used to sell the idea to Akshay and Shez.

The last member of this team doesn't even know about their participation in this event yet but this last member also happens to be the most important one - Sorry to spring the surprise but the last member of our little team is YOU. How you ask ? Well we do need someone to sit at home and look at the pretty pictures, read the words and laugh at videos - it is a tough job but we know you are a team player.

Calling online Philanthropists

As I said earlier we are trying to raise money and awareness through this exercise - the money will be donated a NGO called Mercy Corps - which has helped organize Rickshaw run.

Mercy Corps is a non-profit organization engaged in humanitarian aid and development activities. Mercy Corps works amid disasters, conflicts, chronic poverty and instability. Since 1979, Mercy Corps has provided more than $1.3 billion in assistance to people in 100 nations. Supported by headquarters offices in North America, Europe and Asia, the agency's unified global programs employ more than 3,400 staff worldwide and reach more than 14.4 million people in more than 35 countries. There are working several Indian NGOs - the list to which you can find here.

The rickshaw themselves will be donated at the end of the race to people who gain meaning employment through their use.

Here is where I ask you for a small donation - so please do donate us some money.
To make the deal sweeter - for those nice people out their who give us money - I will personally send them a good-sized print of a photograph of their choice.

Here are some pictures you could have hanging on your wall.


Srinagar Reflections

Boats in Puri, India.

Like a Dancer in Blue

So yes support the cause and make a donation through paypal

If you have questions or need information on the run or want to send us some money in another way- you can email me at akshaym[@]gmail.com - I also have document and a presentation ready which I can forward you upon request.

And Oh yes before I forget the team is called Teesra Paiya and stay tuned for updates.