Globetrotting in an auto

Sep 21, 2011, 07:31 IST | MiD DAY Correspondent

NRI Sanjay Sharma travelled all the way from Nottingham to Delhi in a three-wheeler to raise funds for cancer patients

NRI Sanjay Sharma travelled all the way from Nottingham to Delhi in a three-wheeler to raise funds for cancer patients

You may have heard about people travelling the globe on a bike, car or cycle, but London-based NRI Sanjay Sharma covered almost 10,500 km, covering two continents from Nottingham to New Delhi, with a global positioning system (GPS)-enabled three-wheeler to raise charity for cancer patients.

Phoren return! London-based NRI Sanjay Sharma and his team who
travelled from London to Delhi in an auto, in New Delhi, on Tuesday.
Pic/Rajeev Tyagi

Sharma, an IT professional at the University of Nottingham, arrived along with his companion Sumit Joshi, who is creative director in a multimedia and 3D animation company. They have travelled through 12 countries in two continents - Europe and Asia to reach India. They travelled through France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Iran.

Noble cause
The trio undertook the quirky journey all the way from the UK to the Indian sub-continent by road, in a Bajaj auto rickshaw, aspiring to raise funds for cancer patients in India. Sanjay Sharma, Kelham Osborne and Mukesh Kashyap started their expedition on July 14 from outside the Council House, Old Market Square of Nottingham in the personalised vehicle, which 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 these 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."

Auto 'export'
The auto-rickshaw (Flying rani), in which Sharma covered the long 10,500 km distance, was exported from India to Nottingham. The auto looks no different except for the box carrying his clothes attached to the top. In India, (from Mumbai to Delhi), former additional chief secretary Gujarat government AM Bhardwaj also joined the expedition.

Sharma said that he had aimed to collect around Rs 20 lakh for the terminally ill cancer patients, but he now, he claims, by the end of his journey, he would be able to collect around Rs 40 lakh. "Many private companies have given charities and friends also have contributed in a big way," Sharma said. Explaining why he selected an auto-rickshaw for his journey, he said, "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 vehicle 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 the three of us 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 they are diagnosed, they said.

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