The Rickshaw Experience, as Told by Team Beauty and the Beast

The Rickshaw Challenge – Malabar Rampage 2016 has ended and some of our participants agreed to sharing their experience with our rickshaw racers to come. So, prepare yourselves and heed the warnings, because the next Rickshaw Challenge is starting in June! 

Family Power
Family Power

The interview was conducted with with Steffen Hammelmann from Team Beauty and the Beast (his teammate was his lovely daughter.)
1. Why did you decide to sign up for the Rickshaw Challenge Malabar Rampage 2016?
It was actually Nikki, a friend of ours. She was doing the Rickshaw Challenge a while ago and she said to us: “Do you want to do the Challenge?” and we thought about it over time. When it got closer to the challenge we decided we would come and do it. We’d been to India before a few times, but we’ve never been driving a rickshaw. That’s why we decided to come.
2. What did you expect and what did you get?
Because I’ve been here quite a few times before, I knew what was going on with the roads and everything, so I sort of expected the chaos – the way people drive is organized chaos. And what I’ve got out of it is that I’ve learned to be more relaxed. Where I come from, in Australia, the horn is used for being upset, whereas here when you use the horn, it’s to let people know that you are there and it’s all organized. I’ve learned to relax and take my time. Everybody here on the roads sort of intermingles and it all works out in the end.
3. What was your scariest experience on the road?
I had quite a few and I think everybody would have had the same experience. Back home we don’t expect people to come across us all of a sudden. If we want turn we stop and we wave and we let people take turns. Here nobody stops for you. So that’s been the scariest. Busses overtaking us. After two or three days we realized when they are overtaking you, you’ve actually got to slow down. You can’t go quick. So there’s been a lot of scary experiences.
Chai-Chai Challenge. Photo Credit: Melanie Hammelmann
Chai-Chai Challenge. Photo Credit: Melanie Hammelmann

4. What was your most positive experience during the Malabar Rampage?
That everybody here, every time I’ve been to India, is so friendly, so helpful. They are always happy and always willing to help you. And every time I am here it is the same. I’ve never used any maps or Google maps or anything like this, I’ve just used the Indian people. They are always friendly and when you pull up they always want to know where you’re from, what you are doing and where you are going, where you come from. That’s the most positive thing and I’ll take that back home. And I’ve learned just to be friendly and to be happy.
5. How many breakdowns did you have and what did you learn about fixing a rickshaw?
We’ve had one breakdown, which was our clutch – the whole clutch assembly came out. We’ve been told in the beginning that we should try to fix our own rickshaw and luckily enough I am a bit mechanically minded. So I started pulling the gears apart and the next thing I know is that I have five or six Indian people around me. They were all saying: “Do this, do that”. And I say: “Fine, you go and do it.” And they fixed it in maybe half an hour. They were so helpful and they didn’t want money, because they believe in Karma. They were happy just to help me and to make sure that I get looked after. I’ve been pretty lucky.
Challenge Completed. Photo Credit: Melanie Hammelmann
Challenge Completed. Photo Credit: Melanie Hammelmann

6. Describe Southern India in one word or sentence, which doesn’t include coconut or coconut tree!
Relaxing. It’s plain relaxing.
7. What is your most only in India experience?
Organized chaos. There are so many people here in India, I think there are 1.2 billion and they are all on the roads, so it is just organized chaos.
8. Do you have any recommendations, any good advice for future participants?
When I go back home, I will say to everybody I know, that they have to go on this challenge purely to experience life, life outside of what we normally do, in a different culture and a different mentality.

Are you crazy enough to come along for the ride? Then join us on the next Rickshaw Challenge. Get a team together and let’s see you at the starting line! If you want to join us in spirit, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to keep up with our latest antics.