Thai-Style Red Tuk Spurs Craziness on Indian Streets
After having been rejected entry into Myanmar at the Thailand border, and then after a month of silence, the Solartuk group has suddenly shown up in India. Beginning in Chennai, after a week of customs rigmarole, two women, Talia Rose and Claire Jenkins, and the seldom seen in posts, Julian O'Shea, hit the road heading west across India.
Their first stop was Bengaluru where they met with Volta Automotive India, a company that retrofits LPG vehicles into fully electric ones. Then it was on to a much longer journey to Pune for the three of them. They made an unannounced stop at a school to present to the children on renewable energy and the Solartuk. They also happened upon a solar farm and a hydroponics farm. One surprising experience was running into the filming of a Tamil TV series!
They found driving in India quite a challenge. Apparently, they have already had a collision with a scooter and a side mirror! Nevertheless, the tuk-tuk has a maximum speed of 31 mph so there can be few worries about excessive damage.
The fact that most of India's auto-rickshaws are yellow and green or yellow and black and the SolarTuk is a bright red Thai-style tuk-tuk with non-Indians driving has drawn inordinate attention on the road. "A man...jumped off his motorbike in the middle of a six-lane highway to stand in front of us and get a selfie," said one of the team.
They have also been pulled over by police three times in cases where the police seemed to have a hidden agenda to take selfies with the tuk-tuk.
As Solartuk makes its way across Asia it appears the team has been rotating through different drivers. According to Jenkins, other drivers will take over at the Pakistan border, another team in Iran and another team onward into Europe. Jenkins and Rose, now in Pune, have driven about 900 miles and have apparently finished their portion. We await the next drivers to take over.