Kristina's Rickshaw Challenge: "Good Karma Goes a Long Way"

The Rickshaw Challenge – Mumbai Xpress 2016 ended just a couple of days ago, so we went undercover to find out what recent participants have to say for the future generation of rickshaw racers. We managed to catch Kristina Cheffins for a quick interview…

-Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you participated in the Rickshaw Challenge! Have you ever embarked on a similar adventure?

Team Dancing Double Chef: Kristina and Christopher
Team Dancing Double Chef: Kristina and Christopher

My name is Kristina Cheffins and I am Head of Performing Arts at Doha British School in Qatar. I have done a lot of travelling, often including some form of charity work along the way, but I have never done anything quite this crazy before – it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I was raising funds for Dementia UK, because my Dad is in a home with dementia and my partner in crime was raising funds for Scottish Autism, as his nephew has autism. We also donated our rickshaw deposit to Round Table India as we were so impressed with the work they are doing to help improve education.

-What did India teach you?

To keep smiling no matter what. The one thing I took away with me more than anything was the nature of the people. They were so welcoming and genuinely interested in what we were doing. People will do anything to help you out. Good karma goes a long way. I will try to be more patient in future and try to do something good for a stranger every day like they did for us.

-What was your most “only in India” experience?

It has to be something to do with the driving, and the lack of logic (ha-ha,) but somehow it works. Also, driving down the wrong side of the road with your lights on to let people know you’re coming: at one point, we missed a turn off on a highway so we did exactly that. Did a U-turn and drove back down the hard shoulder.

The Magical Chariot
The Magical Chariot

-What was the first thing that crossed your mind when you saw your Rickshaw?

What was I thinking? I can’t drive that 2000km!!!

– What was your craziest/best experience or moment during the Rickshaw Challenge?

There were many, but driving the wrong way down the highway because we missed the turning has to be up there. Also, driving up and down the mountains in the thickest fog, unable to see past the end of our noses. Another thing: the monsoon weather has to be up there too, especially when you only have a manual windscreen wiper (ha-ha.)

-Which city or town was your favourite and why?

Mysore was lovely and chilled. Pune was also cool. Mumbai is also a favourite because of its crazy city feel and endless traffic jams.

-How many breakdowns did you have (and how did you manage to solve the problem) ?

We actually didn’t have that many, I am not sure how. But there was one day near the beginning where everytime you went down the gears the rickshaw stalled. We just kept restarting and trying to maintain a steady speed in 3rd gear until we found the hotel but it was hard in a city. Other than running out of petrol a couple of times, we did ok. We lost a few fuel caps too, but in India everyone comes to your rescue very quickly.

-What was the food or drink that you never want to live without ever again?

I really enjoyed dahl. Before visiting India, I didn’t really eat Indian food, as I am not a fan of spicy dishes, but I eally enjoyed the food I had. I had a few paneer based curries which were nice. Loved the butter naan too.
Hello There!
Hello There!

– Do you have any tips/tricks for future participants?

Take driving gloves to avoid the blisters I got. They only started to heal at the end and I had to bandage up every morning. Also don’t try to understand a lot of things, as there is no logic, but you just have to embrace it. If you find yourself driving in the dark because you can’t get there in time, don’t panic. Just get a police escort like we did (ha-ha). I think the police officer felt sorry for me when I was in floods of tears.

-Would you participate in a similar wacky challenge in the future?

Definitely!! It was the most amazing achievement and I had a ball. Met amazing people. India has some beautiul scenery and the people are awesome. I will definitely be looking into other similar challenges.
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 and Instagramto keep up with our latest antics.


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