Wednesday, January 10, 2007


While Dad and I were struggling up that first mountain in our little tuk tuk my loving boyfriend Rod Farva made a wonderful theme song for To Be Sorted. Follow this link to sing along. Thanks to Patrick for giving us a way to finally get it up online.

Things are getting along now that Dad and I have returned to Seattle. Thank you all for your kind condolences.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Our Trip Comes to an Early End

On New Year's Day, at about six in the evening we pulled off a main road and putt-putt-putted to a stop. We wanted to stretch our legs and drinks some water before we drove the last 15km of the day into Nellore. It was just getting to be evening light.

As soon as the we switched off the engine we heard our phone ringing. Louise was calling and asked me if we were in a safe place. Yes, I told her. Then came the sad news: My dad had died just minutes before midnight on New Year's Eve. He had been in a hospital fighting a host of problems. At one point his heart failed him. The staff was able to revive him and, in fact, were returning him to ICU to be monitored when he had another arrest. This time the team wasn't able to bring him back. He slipped away.

I wasn't good for much except walking around aimlessly for a while. Susan and I hugged. We sat down on a small curb and I said a prayer for us and for Dad and for all who were grieving at the moment.

We drove to Nellore and found an excellent hotel - the best on our travels so far. For $35 we were put up in an AC room. It was truly a gift since both of us had a lot to process and plan. Susan was a huge help, making all the arrangements needed. I'll be home today at 2:30.

More later.

Dave and Susan.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve at Mamallapuram + lots of pictures!

We have made it to the East coast!

....And the little guy is all straightened out (read accident update below)

We are spending New Year's Eve in Mamallapuram, a town well known for its stone carvings, both ancient and current. The beach is beautiful and is lined with fishing boats pulled up on the sand. They are powered by stripped-down engines that simply have a loooong driveshaft with a propeller at the end.

We've come 700 km so far. We passed some fascinating temples on the way.

Yesterday was a long haul with some dicey driving. Today was pleasant, though Susan was still ill. She is feeling better now but not fully well. She's been drinking 7up to settle her stomach. I am happy to see they have truthful labeling here:


We got the rickshaw fixed - you can see that they used very primitive but effective methods.


Rules of the road for animals are unclear


Remembering the Western Ghats

They are behind us now (as is the bus squash) but not forgotten. We travelled through some breathtakingly beautiful country. High, high country tea plantations, waterfalls, colorful snack stalls (note our tiny little guy in the background!!) and harrowing, narrowing roads.


Wonderful people everywhere.

This is beautiful girl is the niece of our rickshaw "driving instructor" in Chochin (pictured below). He welcomed us into his home and was very kind and, more importantly, honest. I made a previous post about the my frustration with the people who approached us in the heavily toured areas. That is not the case now as we find ourselves in rural India. Kindness and helpfulness are the norms.


Happy New Year to everyone!

We get to celebrate 13 hours before most of you do!

Neener, Neener.

Love, Dave and Susan

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Between a Bus and a Hard Place

Dave here. We are in Munnar now (just 30km from where we spent the night last night). It is really high in the Western Ghats of Southern India. Do a Google search...'cuz there are no USB ports at this Internet Point to post a picture.

We were involved in an accident this morning. The roads are extremely twisty, sometimes turning 270 degrees to double-back and continue climbing or to get around a particularly narrow ridge. The busses are huge and are in a hurry so they are are passing us on the curves. Hasn't be a problem until one decided to cut in quickly and I couldn't find the brake in time (not sure it would have helped). Ack. The bus squished us on the right and a stone wall was on the left. We were pinched, hit and rolled onto our left side. We untagled ourselves and we found we were both okay, mostly. I had a tiny scratch on my shin and Susan's knee is bruised. The bus that crushed us stopped, the driver came back to us (we are still laying on our side, mind you) and starts demanding we pay him for scratching his bus!! Many of the passengers got off to gawk and enjoy the dispute. After some intense moments the mood of the crowd swung slightly in our favor and he climbed on the bus and left.

We righted the rickshaw, pulled a dented front fender free of the wheel and drove 2 lopsided kilometers to Munnar. The Rickshaw is in a shop getting "squared up." I'm impressed with the work they are doing with very simple tools.

It should be ready to go in a couple hours and we'll head out again. We hope to make Salem by tonight.

We really are okay; we will certainly check in at a hospital if anything develops.

Thanks for your prayers.

Dave and Susan

well well

Just a moment to send you all a note before I go to sleep. It's 10pm here in Ademaly, about 30km west of Munnar. It's been non-stop since our last post. We've had two days of rickshaw lessons, much camaraderie, the launch, and a day of driving.
25th: Lovely Christmas dinner - complete with our first gin & tonics of the trip.
26th: All day driving lesson
27th: Early driving lesson, sightseeing, and late night painting.
28th: Morning packing, painting and the launch in the afternoon.

Here are a few photos of the progress we've made. We have a couple short videos too, I'll try to get those up soon.

We left Kochi at 1:20 with 28.6km on the rickshaw odometer, We've gone just over 100km since then and arrived here at 8:00. We were pressing to reach Munnar, a mountain tea station but as it is we had to drive in the dark for an hour and a half just to reach this town. We're 30km short of our goal but in good spirits. We had decided to head due East from Kochi so we are driving straight up one of the highest mountains in the Western Ghats. We're traveling with two brothers, James (20) and Ben (18) from the Leith team. A couple other teams are on the same route and we expect to see them tomorrow: Ingo and Sam from The Bombay Buccaneers, Fabian from Spirit of Lassi, and one other team that I don't know the name of. I think you can find all of them on the official site. Speaking of the official site I think there's a text message thing up so check that and we should be able to update it soon.

The driving is intense. The traffic is rough but manageable. Dad drove the whole day and I navigated. I think I'll take the stick tomorrow. These mountain roads are quite windy and driving at night is prohibitively crazy. We don't plan to do it often. Perhaps it's good though, that we got some of the hardest driving (first day, mountains, night) under our belts early.

Dad and I stayed up past midnight to paint our rickshaw. We had to change plans because the team from Loaded magazine needed the only can of blue for their union jack so we went with red. We also learned we couldn't paint the plastic roof stuff. So there's more work to be done but we're quite happy with it.

The rear of our rickshaw with the map of India added to the back the morning of the launch. Dad did a really nice job. We'll add a line marking our route as we go.

There were tons of local media teams there and there are a couple film crews traveling with the run. The crew below is going by Jeep and the woman in blue looks exactly like Gwen Stefani.

One of the other rickshaws at the launch, the team driving it is great.

A snapshot of a mountain valley from the back of the rickshaw before it got dark.

Well that's all for now, I'm too tired to proofread.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas in Cochin

We are having a wonderful Christmas in Cochin (Kochi). I awoke to find a Christmas flip-flop stuck in the bars of our room's balcony window. ALL of my socks are in the laundry at the moment so a single sandal made do. Please note the traditional orange in the toe of the, ummm... "stocking."

We'd bought a small string of Christmas lights the night before and fashioned a Christmas "tree-like area" using the mirror and vanity stand in our room. This picture (below) was taken this morning after the highly skilled and always amazing Santa located us. Susan's stocking - empty just hours ago - was stuffed with stuff.

And there were wrapped presents, too!

One of Susan's treats was Ghandi nut balls, not something easily found in the Seattle area, I'm sure. Other items included a lethal looking "butter knife", strawberry chocolate coins (kind of a sick, translucent pink/white color) and copy-cat Wrigley's gum with Arabic text.

We met a new Rickshaw Run team at breakfast. The team, "She's a Goa", is a couple from London. So that makes six of us in town now. We went to the "mainland" by ferry today and spent Christmas - not unpleasantly, really - trading in our cheap cell phone (which broke after three calls!!) for a name-brand Nokia. At nearly twice the price we hope it will be more durable and reliable. I'm sure it will be.

Walking home from the ferry Susan met a friend.

And I have seen some cool looking birds.

There are Pua flower trees here. The petals are a delicate pink and oh so fragrant!

Tonight we will have dinner with the other four team members who are in town. I think two more arrive tonight. Susan and I both wish you each a Merry Christmas.

Flathead (aka, Dave)

Saturday, December 23, 2006


We arrived in Kochi yesterday afternoon. The town is small and quite, a welcome change from Mumbai. Last night the choir from a local catholic church sang carols. When they invited the public to join in Dad went right up. They gave him a mic and he was certainly the star of the evening. We met up with Ingo from the Bombay Buccaneers, the only other Rickshaw Runner in town, for dinner. Tom ,the head guy, will arrive on the 27th. This morning I'm off to buy a mobile phone while dad goes to church.

We found out some good news from the rickshaw run folks. We'll all be getting new rickshaws rather than used ones. After some research Tom found that most of the used rickshaws up for sale were repossessed from people who couldn't make their payments. As he put it, "supporting the trade that is screwing over the very people we are trying to help seemed a pretty cheap thing to do." This change means that every team now has to raise a toal of 800 pounds. But because all of you have been so generous we're still well over this goal. Thank You!

Mumbai, Mathura, Agra, and Delhi

The Gate of India in Mumbai.

The Taj Majal Hotel in Mumbai. An Indian man built this after he was turned away from the swankiest British hotel. He vowed to build a hotel so luxurious magnificent it would drive them out of business.

Shiva, performing the dance of creation on one of the smaller panels in the temple on Elephanta island.

I found some friends on the island.

The photo that set the guards at the Mathura train station off - it may look puny in this shot but this tank was enormous. It was part of a long train of military trucks and equipment.

Our first glimpse of the Taj Majal through it's grand entrance gate.

Around the grounds of the Taj Majal.

This is one of two buildings flanking the Taj. It was built to maintain symmetry; It's copy on the other side is a mosque.

A woman having formal portraits taken at the Taj.

Another friend!

The sun was setting as we visited Agra Fort, near the Taj Majal.

The stunning lotus shaped Bahá'í temple in Delhi was set among nine beautiful pools and allowed only silent prayer and meditation.

Friday, December 22, 2006


Dad got a helmet - in the packaging to prove it's new!

More photos forthcoming.


As we drove up to the domestic terminal of the Delhi airport I noticed an array of cameras and news crews set up along the curb. Just outside the main door was a small mob of people yelling and chanting insistently.

Inside the airport a little sign noted: No Snack Stand Beyond Security. No big deal, we thought, it's only half an hour until our flight. As we crossed the threshold into the waiting area the reality sunk in. We listened as flight after flight was delayed by the fog hanging over the airport. We held onto the hope that ours would make it out - the status screen still listed us as on time.

Two hours after the scheduled departure it still cheerfully listed our flight as on time. Rumors of airport retaliation against the protesters spread. Apparently the demonstrators were frustrated at unexplained cancellations and false promises of refunds. I don't know what was going on outside the terminal but the mood at the gates was tense. Once we finally took off the pilot came on the intercom and voiced his annoyance that we'd been delayed. He said the weather was no reason to delay flights. There was definitely something strange afoot at the Delhi airport this morning.

The delay caused us to miss our connection in Mumbai to Kochi but we've been re-booked onto tomorrows flight.

So for a second time To be Sorted plans on arriving in Kochi tomorrow!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

the right look

Our inspiration for the paint job on our rickshaw:

A portion of the plans we drew up to send to Tom:

We'll add a red line to the map of India to mark our route as we go.


In Mumbai, the air was almost too thick with pollution to breathe.

Relief came with silent breathing meditation on Elephata Island. I was in an ancient temple cave in front of an enormous sculpture of Shiva. His face was the most serene thing I've ever seen set to stone.

The train to Agra brought a breath of fresh air. We met Kris, a veteran of the First Gulf War with a face that showed off his years of amateur boxing. Ten years ago he started a feeding program from just one pot in Varanasi, India and soon they will finish a kitchen that will feed 5,000 four times a day. He was full of valuable local insight and said a bath in the Ganges is a must. A truly remarkable man. Ganges, here I come.

We held our breath in Mathura waiting for the men in green uniforms to haul us away. I'd asked dad to take a picture of the train full of huge tanks and military trucks. Based on the reaction of the men in the station when dad snapped the shots this was a poor choice. They argued amongst themselves and watched us carefully for an hour but we kept the camera stowed and eventually got on our train without incident.

The Taj Majal was breathtaking. It is such an beautiful and unparalleled expression of the grief of a widower. The Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore perfectly describes the Taj as "a teardrop on the face of eternity."

Out of breath from hauling our luggage we met a woman and her nephew at the train station leaving Agra. They were both warm and generous and made sure we got a ticket on the fully booked train. A strong, independent business woman, she is the first person we've met in India who has had full faith that we will not only live through the trip, but make it in time.

Finally we are in Delhi now and can breath easy because we've booked our flight to Kochi and will be there tomorrow. We'll check into the official hotel, meet the other teams, have a Gin and Tonic (official drink of the rickshaw run), and practice or cricket skills in preparation for the launch on the 28th.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Would you like ice with that?

I have been here four days and have really enjoyed getting to know people in the neighborhood of our hotel. Each day and couple nights I've walked two or three miles up and down the main road and side streets, exploring and talking to people.

This enterprising guy buys a huge chunk of ice from somewhere and then hauls it to "his" little piece of "sidewalk" to sell piece-meal. Yup, it's sitting right there on the ground in the dirt and whatever. And "whatever" covers a lot of stuff, believe me.

Susan and I are staying in an industrial, not a tourist area. In my days here I have walked past thousands and thousands of people and not seen a single Caucasian face. Not one. That is pretty amazing when you think about it! I didn't think about it until about the third day and I said to myself, hmmm, Dave, you haven't seen anyone of Finnish heritage yet.

Susan arrived early, early this morning. Today we went into downtown Bombay (much more diverse) and plan to go to the Gateway to India monument in just a bit. It is a stretch of ocean front where people stroll in the evening and visit the various vendors along the boardwalk. I read in an article that it is the place to get your ears professionally cleaned. Of COURSE I'll have to try out this unique service!

We are doing well. Loving the people-side of India very, very much.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Rock N' Roll

The Rajasthan Raiders have this little gem for sale at their online shop.

Too bad I'm leaving in less than 48 hours or I'd make sure to be fully outfitted.

p.s. We've blown our fundraising goal out of the water with $1,650.00 raised so far. Thank You.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Italy doesn't have any good hardware stores

Flathead here, in the final weeks of our Italian trip. I want a suction cup hook for keeping things off the nasty floors I'm anticipating in India (yes, this may be a prejudiced view....I'll let you know, honestly, if it turns out I've pre-judged this part of the sub-continent). Nobody has them. Have you ever tried to buy a suction cup hook in Italy? Do you know how difficult it is and what sounds and gestures one has to make to get the point across?? I've been threatened with arrest twice. On the flip side a guy in one store wanted me to come with him to the back room. Believe me, sketches don't help, either.

Proportionito E Homme Leisuro

Dad sent me a postcard from Italy where he and Mom are traveling until we meet up in India. The caption to this masterpeice reads:

My best effort sketching Leonardo's little known drawing of "Proportions of man at rest." Take note of the violet "Elipse of Ease" with it's two foci. This is not shown in his more famous work.