From Nottingham to New Delhi in an auto
Three men journey across two continents in their 'Flying Rani', a customised 3-wheeler, to raise funds for the cancer-afflicted in the country
The city will witness a travelling fundraiser with a difference next week.
It involves three men, who have made the quintessential three-wheeler of Indian roads their ride, and they are traversing across two continents in it, from Nottingham to New Delhi.
Sanjay Sharma with the mayor of Nottingham and Sharma takes the driver's seat, as the trio embark on the journey from Nottingham, as a cheering crowd waves them off
The trio undertook the quirky journey, all the way from the UK to the sub-continent by road, in a Bajaj auto rickshaw, aspiring to raise funds for cancer patients in India.
On the fly
Sanjay Sharma, Kelham Osborne and Mukesh Kashyap started their epic expedition on July 14 from outside the Council House, Old Market Square of Nottingham in the personalised wheels they call the Flying Rani.
Surely, the will to cover 6,000 miles across 14 countries including France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Iran among others must need a forceful trigger.
And in the case of the three, it was the death of Kelham's father, who succumbed to cancer two years ago.
Sharma (44), an administrator in the IT department of Nottingham University, said, "It was a personal loss which motivated us to conduct this journey. My friend's father died of cancer in 2009.
The incident shook up our group. We came to know that there are many people who die due to their inability to bear the cost of cancer treatment. This was the time when we decided to raise charity for cancer patients."
The three are collecting money on the go, as they give presentations and distribute literature about the cause to people. The funds collected will go toward the researching and treating the fatal disease. Their website, www.slowtraintoindia.co.uk, provides details about their charitable trip.
Early next week, Sharma will flag off the India lap of their drive, from Mumbai. Accompanied by two other Indians, this would be the final leg of their road trip. Setting off from Vashi, they will travel to Bharuch, Ahmedabad, Surat, Udaipur, Jaipur and Ajmer to reach the capital a week later.
"In India, we are starting from Mumbai on September 11 or 12, and will reach Delhi on September 18.
During these days, we will stay at many places, and raise awareness and charity for the cause," said AM Bhardwaj, IAS (retired) who is going to be part of the journey from Mumbai, along with Sumit Joshi, creative director of an animation studio.
But why an auto rickshaw? Well, among other things, it's a crowd-puller, Sharma explained. "I bought the auto rickshaw from India in 2008 and modified it with modern amenities like cruise control, box carrier and luxury seats.
I bought the rickshaw to rent it out for marriage events in the UK (where there is a craze for auto rickshaws). But after the sudden death of my friend's father, I decided to use it for our mission. Auto rickshaw is a unique vehicle to draw the attention of crowds. So we three left on our mission with our unique carrier," he said.
The idea behind the project is to provide comfort and dignity to the growing number of terminally ill cancer patients in India in the last days of their lives.
There are one million new cancer cases in India every year, and 80 per cent of these patients are already terminally ill by the time their cancer is diagnosed, the threesome said.
MiD DAY had earlier reported ('Panchi' wants to go around the world again on a cycle', January 14, 2009) about 64-year-old Subash Sehgal, who cycled across the world two decades ago, and was given the moniker Panchi.