Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 5 - The Finale

16 November. We were looking forward to today our last day. Oracle of Tuk had been giving everyone a run for their money, closely followed by Bare Apple, Ursa Skype and Osso Bear. We were to have an easy day going from Pondicherry to a rendezvous point just before the finish line in Chennai. Our destination was Moon Raker Restuarant in Mamallapujam. We were told it was just 65 kms to Mamallapuram and then another 40 kms to the finish line at the eBay / PayPal building. Easy!

As Oracle of Tuk was in the lead and they had hidden our tuk tuk the day prior, Guy and I woke up at the crack of dawn and removed their rear tires, and propped the tuk tuk on the tires. We figured it would take them an hour to get going. Proving too clever once again, they had their tires back on in minutes, having paid the service staff to put them back in record time.

It was drizzling a little when we got started and expected a little rain, but given we were only going 65 kms to the rendezvous point, we were not too bothered. Off we went.

We easily made it through Pondicherry. About the time we covered 45 kms and started counting down the last 20 kms, it started to pour rain. The rain became a fantastic thunderstorm. Miraculously the road emptied of other drivers, and the drive was easier than ever on a well paved road. A relaxing ride for our last day.

We came upon, VeriBear who was running low on fuel, so while in motion we passed over one of our two-liter bottles. We figured we had our second bottle as spare and it would be plenty for the final leg. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter we sputtered to a stop having run out of fuel. We then discovered the other bottle was gone. VeriBear saw us in distress and we drained a liter from their tank and were both on our way. We discovered that as the rain was hitting hard, Oracle of Tuk had also shown some mercy for one of the other teams.

65 kms came and went, and no way point. 80 kms and nothing. By now the thunderstorm had turned into a full blown cyclone, and we were completely alone on the road. As useless as the manual windshield wiper normally is, it was all we had, and we used it. Imagine driving in a cyclone with one hand on the wiper handle. A bit stressful.

After 100 kms, we were completely confused as to how we could have missed the turn. We were all soaked and cold. We kept asking directions, and were continuously told it was ahead! At this point we noticed a petrol station, and pulled in. Osso Bay and AutoBear were there as we pulled in with VeriBear. A few minutes later Oracle of Tuk showed up. We all stood in the deluge soaked to the bone. The petrol station attendants refused to come out in the rain as we frantically waved them over. They finally came out after 10 minutes.

I must admit, Guy and I thought of dashing off on fumes, leaving the four others there to wait. However, while we debated this Ed of Oracle of Tuk suggested we all stick together for safety reasons. I suspected a trick. But he and the others were serious, so we agreed to convoy on from the petrol station and share the winning points. As it seemed we only had the infamous two kms to go, we moved on carefully with my head out of the rickshaw peering through the downpour looking for signs. Luckily, the chase car caught up with us and took the lead, letting us follow them to the meeting point. 

You can imagine our surprise when we finally arrived, and saw that Ursa Skype and Bare Apple had already made it there on their own. They deserved full credit and won the day!

We staggered into the restaurant dripping with many apologies, but the staff could not have been nicer. After another wonderful Indian meal, we set off to the finish line at eBay. The other teams "allowed" Guy and I to take the lead in honor of our hosting the event. As we blissfully led the way, the other six tuk tuks were frantically jockeying for position behind us. I heard later they were madly zipping around each other and having a blast until a motorcycle officer pulled alongside and reprimanded them. Obviously they were misbehaving to a ridiculous degree for the jaded police to even notice the chaos of our teams within the chaos of the general traffic.

Around 4 pm, we all zoomed through the finish line onto the eBay site to be graciously welcomed by our good friends Col. Raj Kumar and Srinath, and their staff. They braved the weather and attended our award ceremony.

For those of you who may not know, the whole idea of Northland sponsoring a tuk tuk challenge came from Stephen Lovas learning to drive a tuk tuk and driving it to the eBay site while it was under construction. It was our working together with the local provider that showed us the first glimpse of how working in a difficult environment alongside the local community could have excellent results. I often tell people, in spite of what you see on the surface when arriving in India and working there, we have seen much higher standards of workmanship than in many western countries.

But back to the award ceremony. We all received certificates congratulating us for our shining example of daring and courage. A fitting tribute given how much more challenging the event turned out to be. In addition, there were three more prizes to be given out. One for the "Survivor" or the person who truly embraced India and the people the most. One for the "Bonker" or what I call the "Mad Max" prize for the team that went all out. And one for the overall winner of the challenge based on points.

The Survivor. Paul Pacitto clearly deserved the Survivor award. After very long days in the autorickshaw, he would cheerfully set out from the hotel to the village to hang out with the locals, have his head and chin shaved with a straight edge at the barber for 20 rupees, and do a bit of shopping and haggling. And shortly after they hit the police officer and scraped up the entire side of their autorickshaw on the officer's bumper, Paul had the officer smiling for the camera with his arm around him. It was a pleasure to see Paul fully embrace his environment and thrive within it.

The Bonkers. The team that went all out every day was Roger and Ed of Oracle of Tuk. After a first day of intense bickering, backseat driving and distrust of each other's ability to handle the autorickshaw, fear for their lives, they survived. I think they realized that they could do this and their differences were a strength. From that point on they took first place twice and a second place. They were extraordinarily well together, rarely got lost, went all out, and simply had a blast. If it were a pure race and did not have points allocated for other "challenges", they would have won the event.

The Winners. The winners were almost as Bonkers as Roger and Ed, and are well deserving of the grand prize. They only took a first place on the second day, but they gained so many points in other categories such as thoroughly thrashing their vehicle and their bodies and still making it every day. As this was a challenge, points were given for anyone who actually finished by 5 oclock each day. Surprisingly, Rob and Trang of Osso Bay had significantly more points than the rest of us, and took first prize by a landslide. They worked extremely well together from the start. They encouraged, maybe even egged each other on to stretch the limits. One of my favorite video clips is Rob recording the traffic and scenery as Trang drove. All of a sudden you see Trang about to pass a car while "threading the needle" of oncoming traffic. Rob's camera suddenly drops its view to his shoes as he grips on for dear life and Trang blasts through the traffic. They never slowed down, which explains the condition of their tuk tuk by the end. 

The Tortoise. A prize not given, but I loved how well Eddie and Mark got along and simply took eveything in. They are the only team that did not have a breakdown and finished everyday. They even took first place on the last day in the most difficult conditions. They sped along, but they also took their time to take pictures, talk to people and have lunch. They got it done each and everyday, were safe and probably the most sane of the bunch. Perversely, the fact they did not have breakdowns or bash up their vehicle counted against them in the points system. They were the proverbial Tortoise to our Hares.

Final Notes.

Distance from Start to Finish: 823 kms.
Distance actually driven by most teams: 975 kms.

Exercise in Futility. "How do you get your brakes to work?", "Can you fix my brakes?", "What do you mean pump your brakes?"

Ritual Morning Question, Henry to Paul: "Did you really go to bed at 3 am? How much did you drink, and are you okay to drive?"

Reason Behind Ritual Question. Sleeping outdoor in a hammock in freezing temperature with pink elephant blanket.

Great Experience 1. The smiles, friendliness and absolute helpfulness of everyone we encountered.

Great Experience 2. Achieving a difficult goal with a low-tech vehicle by relying on the help of others, especially the locals.

A thank you to all our clients, suppliers and staff for embracing globalization, and giving us the chance to join the global marketplace. We work in a very fast-paced world where standardization is highly valued. Understanding and working with local staff and their very specific environment to get things done sets us all apart. We have found when we embrace what the local community has to offer, we are much better able to achieve the standards we desire more quickly and effectively.

For us, the crater-sized potholes on the road to globalization just got a little smaller.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 4

15 November. This morning I seriously considered ordering a bus to take us all to Chennai. Yesterday's crashes were a bit disconcerting. That idea was shot down by all once I started talking to everyone over breakfast. There was some trepidation by those that had experienced a crash, but the race was on.

We decided to start off with an easy ride into the town of Thiruvannaamalai where we visited the Annamalaiyar Temple. The highlight was a blessing received by an elephant inside the temple. You put a coin in the live elephant's truck, he would tap you on the head with his truck while holding the coin, and then deposit the coin.

From there, we all took off to our next destination along the beach just south of Pondicherry. This was a particularly straightforward day with minimal problems. The first three challengers all got there within three minutes of each other. Oracle of Tuk unfortunately won the day again! The order of arrival was: Oracle of Tuk, Bare Apple, Osso Bay, AutoBear, Ursa Skype, Symanta Bear and VeriBear.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Northland Headquarter’s Staff Meet to Celebrate Racers

The Northland Control Systems, Inc. staff met over lunch Tuesday to celebrate (and commiserate) the Race.
Who will win?  Who will take second place?  Who will be lost and yet to find the finish line? 
As we luncheon on keema mattar, vindaloo, biryani, chicken masala and naan, we wish all participants ….  BADHAE!!!!!! (congratulations)

Sorry Officer

On the first day, we were given the assignment of getting a picture of our tuk tuks with a cow. This was a relatively easy task as cows are often wandering around the roadways. Paul and Kagan bullocks cart driver to pull over for their photo.

The next day we were to take a photo with police officers. Not as easy, but everyone got their photo, with a few of us giving the officer a ride to their next destination. Henry, on the other hand, actually ran into the police officer’s car and scratched his new chrome bumper. They were pretty angry and were not accepting Henry’s apology. Paul and Henry did a lot of fast talking, and somehow got them smiling and convinced them to pose for a photo with them anyway.

An ongoing challenge is “dodge the bus”. The bus drivers are extremely aggressive. In this photo a bus has pulled out to pass a group of three trucks in spite of their clearly having seen us in our lane. We had no choice but to drive off the road as the bus roared by.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 3

14 November. We woke to a stunning view overlooking Salem. Showers were freezing cold, which helped given the fact the coffee was bad. As we had to drive down the mountain in rickshaws that had poor brakes and are somewhat unbalanced, we left in a convoy to the first junction. From there we were entreated to be careful.
Within 5 minutes, Team AutoBear had flipped on its side and skidded 5 meters. Xavier and Karen were banged up and very shaken up. Luckily the support vehicles were on hand, and the two were well taken care of within minutes. Once they were safe and loaded in the air-conditioned chase car, Guy and I started to worry we would not get the prize for the most abused tuktuk. Still, the day was young.
And young it was.

An hour later, Teams Ursa Skype, VeriBear, Osso Bay and Bare Apple got badly lost in the mountain. Rob hit a pothole and broke a rear wheel strut. He picked a lush tropical place to do it with a waterfall as background. However, he and Trang were nowhere near a garage. Aravind and the service team were called for help.

At that moment, Aravind and the service team were with Guy and I, Team Samanta Bear, at the welders. Seems our accident on the first day was continuing to haunt us. Yesterday we had the leaky fuel line. Today the whole rickshaw was folding in on itself. A pretty funny site given Guy is so tall and the handle bars were literally in his lap as he drove. So the service team with Karen in the car left us with the welders to go help Rob and Trang. We were at the welders for 2-1/2 hours and figured we were out of the race for the day. After 2-1/2 hours of cutting and banging metal into shape, and welding it into place, the welder was finally done. Final bill…150 rupees (about US$3.25). We tried not to smile too much.

We were on our way, and the day was indeed still young. Just before we got going, 3 other teams were passing us by. Apparently they had been going around and around in the mountain for 2-1/2 hours horribly lost. We all raced off as we knew Oracle of Tuk was taking no prisoners.
Today’s road had potholes bigger than our rickshaw and we had a heck of a time getting around them. We kept losing site of the folks in front of us when our engine started to cough and sputter. Guy jumped out, jiggled some wires and fuel lines, and accomplished nothing much. We were at this point only 20 kilometers away, and we coughed and sputtered our way to the finish. The service team told us the next morning the air-filter had completely fallen off the carburetor. They looked at us suspiciously wondering how we even got back. I guess Guy’s jiggling was useful after all.
As most of us relaxed at the hotel, the day had not yet ended for Rob, Trang and Karen. We felt bad for Karen, imagining the day she was having after the morning’s crash and still being up in the mountains. It took 4 hours of Aravind shuttling parts back and forth to Osso Bay’s remote location, with Trang and Karen in the car. It rained hard on them for most of the day. The only bright spot was some of the great food they had at the local stands.
At about 8:30 pm, they were finally on their way back. It being very dark outside, Rob was having a hard time maneuvering around the gigantic potholes. With the chase car behind them, Rob and Trang hit one of the craters and flipped their car. Karen and Aravind witnessed the whole thing and were there in minutes. Now, Rob and Trang were just as banged up as Xavier and Karen. At this point, the rickshaw was towed to the hotel, and Rob, Trang and Karen did not make home till 11 pm. Luckily, everyone was okay.
The amazing thing about the auto-rickshaw is that it is an iconic workhorse. They break down all the time, but are repaired within hours if not minutes. And I must say, I am starting to even feel comfortable in mine. But the rickshaw is really meant for shuttling people around congested cities, and not for cross-country mini-rallies. That is what makes it a challenge.
The other amazing thing that becomes apparent is that in spite of the insanity of the traffic and especially the bus drivers, there is a rhythm to driving in India. All of our incidents were really caused by our own faulty brakes, inexperience or hitting standing objects and obstacles. Not by the “insane” Indian drivers. They are extremely good drivers and would put most of us to shame.
But I digress. Although a long and difficult day, we ended up at a hotel / meditation center. A great place I had picked out a long time ago with a bit of a chuckle. We were a bit out of place in our muddy, dirty clothes, and loudly sputtering tuktuk, while the other guests were walking around in pure white pants and robes. That said, it was a really nice place, and quite a few of the challengers took advantage of the full body massage. A bit fuller than most of us are used to.
Today was a day for the Oracle of Tuk as they arrived having had no breakdowns and had not gotten lost. They arrived hours before anyone else. The rest of us straggled in the following order: Oracle of Tuk, Ursa Skype, Bare Apple, Symanta Bear, VeriBear, AutoBear and Osso Bay.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Day 2

13 November. It was great to watch everyone arrive last night with lots of stories. The gang was very happy to see that our "tents" were fabulous. I had convinced everyone we would be roughing it this night. The expression on Karen's face everytime I mentioned tents the prior two days was priceless. We truly regretted leaving.

Today's challenge would be to make it through the town of Coimbatore, find our way to Salem, and then drive to an elevation of 1,200 meters (about 4,000 feet) through 20 hairpin turns.

As we all raced off, Ed and Roger (Roger mostly), decided they wanted a louder horn. They waited while 4 different horns were fitted to Roger's satisfaction. Meanwhile, Henry and Paul P also had some items checked and rechecked. I think he had gotten over the fact the brake lights were never going to work, but he was going to make sure that at least the brakes did.
The route was a mixture of potholed, crowded streets and modern highways. One of the things I have noticed over the past few years is how rapidly India's infrastructure has evolved. Some of the highways were were on today were fantastic. And I have been able to get mobile coverage in the most out-of-the-way places. We see cellular towers everywhere, and I have not worried about getting a distress signal out should we need.
Paul and Kagan of Team Bare Apple, unfortunately, did need such a signal to call for help when Kagan hit a pothole dead on. Kagan was in the midst of passing a car, when a bus pulled out from on coming traffic into his lane in an attempt to pass a truck. Amazingly, the service folks gott here in an hour, took apart the whole front end and replaced it in another hour, and Bare Apple was on its way after a couple of hours.

Not to be outdone, Guy and I of Team Symanta Bear, lost our entire right rear wheel while coming down a highway overpass at our full speed of 45 kph (28 mph). We were wondering what the wobbly feeling was all day. We kept getting out and looking at the front wheel where it seemed to be coming from. The bolts sheared off, the wheel came off, and we were sliding down the ramp. As there were no shoulders and as we were coming to a stop in the midst of the ramp, we had to crank up the engine and ride down to the end onto the shoulder. We stopped in front of a modern Ford dealership. They helped us lean the rickshaw over and put some rocks underneath it. Guy replaced the tire and we canabalized bolts from the other tire. Meanwhile, some nice folks on a motorcycle brought us the other tire. We then proceeded on a hunt for spare bolts. We were up and running in 30 minutes.

We knew we were still in a good position and kept moving. The climb up the mountain was incredible. However, our fuel line was leaking and we started to sputter along. We had a heck of a time, but still made it to the top. When we stopped for water, Oracle of Tuk flew right by us. As we gave chase we started to sputter and lost site of them. We got within 100 meters of our destination and asked for directions. Completely misunderstanding their correctly given directions, we proceeded to get lost for an hour. We finally made it in as it was getting dark.

Rob and Trang of Osso Bay did not get lost and took first place. Eddie and Mark were an hour behind in a strong second, but stopped to take pictures of the beautiful scenery and the monkeys. Roger and Ed took advantage and took second, leaving Eddie and Mark with third. Kagan and Paul came in fourth a bit after, as they and the remainder of us got badly lost.  We were second to last after Karen and Xavier in AutoBear who took fifth. Henry and Paul of VeriBear pulled up the rear down the very muddy last 50 meters to our Tree Houses.

It was a great day, and we ended by celebrating Aravind and Guy's birthdays.

Friday, November 12, 2010

And They Are Off

12 November. The group was up and ready to go by 7 am, and in surprisingly good spirits given the prior nights expedition. We were pleased to see a photo of us in the local paper (although we have not translated the accompanying text) and were told we were on the local evening news. Our tuk tuks were lined up in front the hotel drawing some attention, and this morning some interviews with a different newscaster. A bit of curiosity mixed in with mirth, but the audience seemed genuinely pleased.

The starting flag went down at 9 am. Team AutoBear was first of the line, quickly followed by Ursa Skype, Oracle of Tuk and the rest, with Veri Bear left at the line with engine trouble that was resolved in minutes. Once we were all on the road, traffic, wrong turns and stops split us all up, and we were all on our own.

Teams Oracle of Tuk, Ursa Skype and Osso Bay had started off their day going 50 kilometers in the wrong direction!

The late start put us right in the midst of traffic. We all got a lot of thumbs up from other drivers, and especially other auto-rickshaw drivers. They were taking our pictures as we took theirs. On one stretch of road, we went to overtake a tuk tuk with two passengers. The passengers smiled and cheered on their driver to race along with us. It was all very amusing except we were in the outside lane wanting to get back over. A lot of laughs and cheers as they moved up to beat us.

One of the highlights of the day was a festival at a local temple with what seemed like the whole town in the street in bright and colorful outfits. We had to go through at a very slow and careful crawl. When Team Bare Apple entered into the procession they had the good fortune of running out of gas. I love it. Good planning. They were immediately surrounded by people trying to help.
That was not the only trouble Team Bare Apple had. They lost their brakes and pushed their rickshaw from place to place until someone helpfully fixed the problem.

All the teams had close calls with dodging traffic and poorly performing brakes. And yours truly, Team Symanta Bear, discovered that hot brakes do not work very well…on 3 occasions…for some reason this was not a problem for Guy. The first occasion was not an uncommon experience to all the teams as we came to a close stop behind a stopped bus. The brakes had not heated up that much yet.

Shortly thereafter, the local bus made its usual stop in the middle of the national highway to load and unload passengers. Motorcycles and tuk tuks ahead of me moved to the right (note: they drive on the left here as in the UK) to go around the bus and dodge oncoming traffic in the other lane. I applied the brakes with no effect and continued to move toward the stopped bus and motorcycles at my max speed of 45 kph (about 27 mph). I applied again and nothing. I had the great choices of hitting the bus, unloading passengers on the left, motorcycles on the right, an oncoming truck, pedestrians on the side of the road on the right. My dad always told me if you have the choice of swerving to miss hitting a cat but hitting oncoming traffic, hit the cat. So, as we moved rapidly toward the oncoming truck, I desparetly needed something else to hit. Luckily, there was an opening on the right and we flew into a ditch. As Guy and I banged through the ditch and finally came to a stop we were quite relieved to say the least. Funnily, the folks around us, were all quite blasé about the whole thing.

And only 15 minutes later, again blasting down the highway at an impressive 45 kph, the car on my left swerved to the right and braked, cutting me off. I swerved sharply to the left (going to the right would have put me into oncoming traffic and I learned that lesson) and barely missed hitting the car, but we were now shooting straight for the stopped truck he swerved to miss. The brakes were of course useless. The embankment to the left was too steep. So we lost the right side view mirror to the truck, along with some tears to our canopy. We came to a stop right alongside his window. The driver simply looked over and was not the least bit concerned.

For some reason, Guy let me keep driving. After that, there was a lot of pumping of the brake, as well as letting them cool off. This was particularly helpful once we arrived in the midst of the festival mentioned above.

Our destination was off the beaten track. Guy and I arrived at our “tents” next to a lake, with some mountains as a backdrop, and banana plantations in the distance. Absolutely beautiful.

We arrived at 4:12 pm. Surprised to be first!!! We arrived a full 1-1/2 hours before the next team, Team VeriBear, showed up. Team Ursa Skype brought up the rear at 7 pm.

I am hoping we don't have to give up another piece of our vehicle to win the next leg.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The "Mini" Challenge

11 November at approximately 4:30 pm - At the end of orientation and after we agreed to be on the road by 7 am the next morning, Aravind, our organizer, asks everyone if they are up for an 18 km (each way) mini challenge. Standing out there in the pouring rain, everyone immediately threw up their arms and shouted "Yes!!!"

My team mate, Guy, noticed I was standing there incredulous with my mouth agape. He quietly let me off the hook, and joined Kagan and Paul for the quest.

While I slumbered in a deep jetlag-induced sleep, Paul, Guy and Kagan spent 2-1/2 hours getting thoroughly lost and soaked. Still, Kagan got some good practice at closing his eyes and gunning his rickshaw through 5 lanes of buses, cars, bicycles and pedestrians. This is apparently a worthwhile skill when driving a rickshaw, and I seem to be behind already.

Eddie and Henry also gave up after and were back at the hotel after 3 hours.

Rob and Trang did finally find the place, and it took them 2-1/2 hours. They found manuevering around 5 lanes of traffic in 3 lanes of road "challenging." And as the rain poured down on them the infamous manual windshield wiper did not seem to do much. When they mentioned it did not work to the repairman, he quickly fixed it by grabbing the wiper and ripping it right off. So, Rob and Trang simply drove back without one. No worries, it was useless anyway.

Mark and Eddie turned up five minutes later. On the way back, they missed their turn and went 30 kms out of the way. Getting back around 10 pm.

Xavier and Karen got there third only after discovering the road Aravind gave us was not the same as where the destination resided. I suppose that is part of the challenge.

Ed and Roger rounded up the folks who actually made it to the destination. These four teams then headed back together. Unfortunately, Ed and Roger did not get back until 11 pm... it only took 6-1/2 hours to go a total of 36 kms. Everyone knows that the tuk tuk breaks down every 5 minutes, and only takes 2 minutes to fix. In this particular case, however, the fuel line ruptured and fuel was spewing out. Nonchalantly, Roger kept smoking until someone prudently pointed out he should put out his cigarette.

And now we depart for the real challenge. It is only 240 kilometers to our destination.


The roar of the engines was deafening as the challengers careened around the practice course. Well, there was a lot of careening, starts, stops, engine stalls and mud flying as the engines puttered.

The practice could not have been better planned as most of the challengers had toured around the prior day in the iconic tuk tuk of India. We wondered what had we got ourselves into. This is insanity. Traffic and people everywhere, complete disregard for traffic lanes, signs and signals, and a LOT of beeping. Each and every kilometer being more of the same chaos.

The practice course was complete with a goat and local students playing football (soccer), with the occasional ball and chasing child running through our desperate atttempts not to hit them.

By the end of the day, I was too tired to do an 18 km mini-challenge. So as I headed off to the hotel around 4:30 pm, 13 excited folks took off into the starting rain storm. One team and my partner came back two hours later completely soaked after having been thoroughly lost. By 8 pm, 8 people (4 teams) had actually made it to the destination. I had gone to sleep before anyone of them came back. And at this writing, I am hoping the one unaccounted team is safely asleep in bed. Seems my absence cost our team, Symanta Bear, some points ... No worries, we will be driving like locals in the next segment to make up the difference!

In just about 4 hours, we will set off on the longest of our treks...240 kms. We figured to get the longest day out of the way first.

I will update this posting prior to our leaving with information as to the condition of the teams from last nights expedition.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The 2010 Challenge

Seven teams will set out from Cochin to Chennai on a 750 kilometer course across southern India starting on Friday 12 November. We are all looking ahead to the experience with trepidation and excitement. We will certainly keep you posted!

Rick and Stephen in 2008

The insane idea of actually sitting in the driver's seat of a tuk tuk came to us in 2007 when Stephen convinced a local autorickshaw driver to let him pilot the tuk tuk from his hotel to the client's project site. The reaction to this embracing of the culture was so positive we decided to go one step further in 2008. Stephen and Rick participated in a 2,000 kilometer race across India.