Ladies and Gentleman, introducing… As you may have heard, next year we are returning to Europe as it may be our last chance to dump a bunch of British cars in a faraway EU country – while it’s still legal. Places on Dumball 2018 are strictly limited. If you have not yet been invited […]
Dumball 2018: Nothing compares to EU! If EU thought it couldn’t get better than India, then EU thought wrong. It’s everything EU could have wished for and more. We promise. In the words of the great MC himself, EU Can’t Touch This. Still Cl-EU-less?! EU must have got it by now… That’s right! We’re […]
On Tuesday, DHQ took some time out of our busy schedule to visit the Teenage Cancer Trust hub at University College London Hospital, where we’d been invited to a supporters event by TCT. We heard inspiring stories from the TCT team and met some of their survivors who told us how important the TCT has […]
Dumball 2016 – The Story as it unfolded
Well here we are over ‘more traditional’ dumball countries… 2 hours into our 10 hour journey. Not much to report as yet, but plenty of time to type!
As you might expect, with 95 dumballers on one flight, we’ve changed the dynamic of the flight somewhat… but we’ve being very good, I promise. A regular flyer said ‘this flight is normally very empty!’ and the flight stewards have warned they might run out of meat meals. India here we come…
With some photos.
We have arrived, all safe and sound, all well embedded in the heart of India.
It turns out that 2 hours is more than enough time to make some amazing alterations to 36 Hindustani Ambassadors, and we have some fantastic designs.
Of course, the Indian roads are insane. So far we’ve driven a total of about 10k on Indian roads and had a tiny taste of the madness. But it’s a madness we can work with… Our kind of bonkers. We love driving in Chennai. And obviously, as promised
So here we are! A few clicks outside Chennai, getting a feel for the roads and passing the bodacious black squad.
It turns out the Indian way of driving makes a lot of sense. Basically everybody does whatever they want, but on the understanding that everybody else will also be doing the same thing… so it’s eyes on all the time.
Thirsty? Pull over and grab a coconut. Now let’s get going… Today is the longest day, and we’ve barely started. But we’ve started!
So, a bit more info on what happened yesterday. By the time we’d got everyone through airport add back to the hotel it was 10 and breakfast was just finishing, so we thought it best to grab something while we could. And oh my last Jesus, what a breakfast. Pastries and cheese from around the world, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, the full English, the egg station cooking benedict and egg white omelettes and fresh fruit cut to order. Not to mention, of course, the local dosas, pathrartas, curries and dhals. The Leela Palace immediately started living up to it’s name.
We had to be out by 12 to get everyone registered go and get the cars. This meant a lot people didn’t get a chance to get a lot of rest after the long flight, but the best way to get over the jetlag is to just power on through the first day, so all’s good.
Registration, and divying up the walkies, stickers, manuals etc went surprisingly well on no sleep thanks to Intersight and the hotel. And then onto the cars…
We headed down to the local YMCA showground to pick then up (very handy for dumball one’s theme…) and were greeted by some incredible local dancers, drummers, peacock dancers and Indian screechy clarineters.
The cars were all lined up and keys were picked at random… and the decorating began. Cars varied wildly- one had a flat screen DVD player! Whereas our has no handbrake… Lovely curtains on the back though! Pics of the cars with filter through over the next few days, but look out for Pub Crawl 2 Goa and their mobile country pub, Fab 4 and their excellent yellow submarine and our own Lost Khakis and their massively mapped motor. And many many more, including the Dumball Van support vehicle!
It’s the familia sight of half a squadron milling about by the side of the road.
Lost Khakis have had a minor fan belt underutilisation issue… Apparently the fan belt is important and should be fully utilised at all times. Can live without it in fact.
So after a quick regroup we got the mechanics on the case and the Khakis have distributed themselves themselves throughout blue squad and we are passing on.
Today IS the longest day, and it was inevitable we’d lose someone, but I don’t know how many others have gone yet…
Not long to go now, about 100k to Madurai, it’s been dark for about an hour… And we’ve just seen the Khaki car speed past! The Indian mechanics are good!
Well. It certainly looked it was ok when it speed past us yesterday! But the ground crew have informed us that the engine has ‘seized’ and that the Lost Khakis’ car is dead. So we got them another one! Not nearly as beautiful of course, but it will have to do.
They have plenty of maps left, and can get pasting asap.
In Trivandrum we have just met Sheik Pareed, the Director of Tourism for Kerala, and the local media. They’ve taken a healthy interest in the dumball and everything we do for TCT- and we’ve taken a healthy interest in Kerala!
What a stunning place – they call it God’s own country. Tonight we were greeted by Keralan musicians as we pulled up and in return they were greeted by some very sweaty dumballers. Arrival after a long day on the road is not always a pretty sight!
Tomorrow, the full day in Kerala – back waters, houseboats and palm trees galore.
And not housecleaning. Houseboating!
Half way to Kochi we’ve stopped off in Allepy for a spot of messing about on the river. Certainly a bit of a change and some welcome stunning scenes.
The Keralan houseboat – the Kuttuvallam – is a bit of an institution. Traditionally used for transportation of people and good such as rice, now they are largely used for tourism. They’re constructed with all natural materials, wood, bamboo and coir roaps, coated and waterproofed with boiled cashew kernels.
Now, mainly due to time, this kind of cutural excursion on the dumball is unheard of, but give 40 hot, sweaty, tired dumballers the ‘afternoon off’ to muck about on a boat and the first thing many of them want to do is sleep!
Turns out, when you give a bunch of tired, sweaty Dumballers a nice, comfy houseboat with beds, showers and snacks as a afternoon treat, after some spicy driving from Trivandrum to Cochin, they do exactly what you’d expect them to do…
And why shouldn’t they? The driving in India is exhaustingly fun, and requires courage, stupidity, air con that works, assertive acceleration, a relaxed approach to the “rules” and above all excellent horn skills – long ones for get the Fuck out the way, and short ones like little butterfly kisses to let them know you’re there – but it takes it out of you.
Despite the terrifying thrill of it all, like blind corners, pot holes, buses, trucks, cars, tuktuks, motorbikes, or cows coming at you head on whilst overtaking a car that’s overtaking a tuktuk, it just works – the views are amazing and they’re all smiling. No one’s beeping out of anger, and everyone just gets to where they need to at their own pace. If this was happening on the M6, there would have been a massive punch up by now. Well done Kerala, fabulous welcome.
So here we are at the Sholaya dam! It’s a huge beast, holding back an estimated eleventy quintrillion Olympic swimming pools of water. Nobody needs that many pools though, so they mainly use it for generating 30% of the state’s electricity.
Unfortunately (well, we’re quite glad really) it’s not the rainy season so the reservoir was quite low and there was no massive flow to see. Although quite a few dumballers did stop for a little relief…
Today we are heading high into the Western Ghats. We’re currently deep inside a nature sanctuary and have been told to not leave our cars or play music – "Turn off your drums and listen my trumpet!" proclaims an elephant on the signs.
The mechanics seem terribly worried about the Ambassadors, but as Dumball One is the oldest – a 1978 mark 3, part of private classic collection – and it seems to be holding its own, we’re hoping they’re all going to make it through the hills unscathed today. We did all stop and check our coolant levels at lunch, and db1 did neck a couple of liters of water so we’re also hoping everyone else did that too…
Where was lunch you say? Well I ‘m glad you asked. Just outside the Indira Ghandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, there is stunning waterfall system. So once again in uncharacteristic dumball style, we stopped for a lengthy lunch break and a 20 minute hike through the first to get to the waterfall. Probably the furthest we’ve give without our cars…
And as you can see, it was well worth the detour!
A relatively short drive today, passing back out of Tamil Nadu (again) and into Karnataka. A brief stint of 27 hairpin bends on a very hot day did take it’s tool on the cars’ temperatures, but that just meant we had time to stop and admire the view for a bit while they cooled down.
It appears the roads aren’t quite as well maintained in Karnataka… But they do do a bloody good curry, by far the best we’ve had outside a fancy hotel.
But… the roads… are very pot holey. And the suspension in our 1978 mark 3 has seen better days. So after one particularly nasty we realised we had a bit of a dodgy front end wobble and on closer inspection realised we had a broken steering rod. Dumball one down, repeat dumball one down.
But the psychic mechanics were on the scene within minutes with a replacement car they’d just fixed (a bit. You can remove the key and keep driving, so you need to stall it to park, and there’s no reverse, and it’s making some very odd noises), so we moved everything over and got back on the road! DB1 just needs a replacement part, fingers crossed…
Now approaching Mysore, we’ll see if dumball one is back on the road tomorrow!
Of course she does. DB1 is the oldest cat obv the rally, and Krish’s favorite, there’s no way he’ll let her let us down.
So here she is, contemplating the route for the day. On the left, 250km of highway directly to Mangalore. On the right, 320km of back roads, jungle passes and more hairpins. Guess which one we took…
Don’t be tricked by the short distances though – on the highway the ambassadors’ top speed is 70kph, and on the constantly pot holed rural roads we average 30kph…
Now, contrary to the last post, this sort of thing is exactly the reason we go the long way round. We were, truth be told, a little off course and were looking for somewhere to turn round when we spotted the volley ball court. A dumball standard.
So we all bundled out and started knocking the ball around with local kids. Meanwhile the local men shined up a tree and knocked a few coconuts down, made a hole so we could drink the juice and then chopped up the flesh for our munching pleasure. Delicious! And they wouldn’t accept a penny for it.
And the everything went bonkers! The while village turned out for a game of chase, some people were invited into someone’s house for a look around, a man opened up the village temple and turned on an incredible automatic drum machine and blue squad started applying glitter to the kids and giving out bubbles.
All in all, a spectacular accidental stop, and the sort of thing that makes dimballing such a fun and worthwhile experience.
That was many hours ago now, we’re currently up a mountain again surrounded by stunning jungle, 3 or 4 hours out of Mangalore…
Another excellent article in The Hindu! We were interviewed in Kochi by a table full of journalists and we sent them a few photos. Seems we’re rather popular round here!
Check the full article here, hopefully someone found a printed copy!
Cruising up the coast to our final destination today… A long drive and a sad time, but plenty of shenanigans to go yet…
Long queue of cars, nobody in charge, everyone trying to get past, not quite clear what’s going on…
Aficionados will recognise the legendary Serbian tunnel incident of ’06. What we had here is similar – they was a digger perched up the embankment tearing the hill apart and rocks tumbling onto the road below. But that’s ok – every now and then they stop, push it out the way and let the traffic through. There’s a massive ‘can do’ in India, so everyone does everything. All the time. However they like. With cows. And trucks.
The people here have been amazing. Everywhere we go, we’ve been greated with wave and cheers, always with a smile. India is fantastic, and has been really good to us. Pushing our boundaries, tingling our taste buds, stimulating every sense and making us question everything.
Like why are we so strict about traffic lights? They’re just a guide, surely. Who needs to close a road just to build and fix it? Just let everyone muddle through and they might learn something along the way. Is constant undertaking such a bad thing? It certainly keeps everyone alert. The harder the problem, the greater the understanding.
The team from Intersight have been great too. Putting on a great show, smoothing the way for us, there when we need them and letting us get on and dumball when we don’t. Thanks for a great week guys, highly recommended. Tomorrow night’s on us at the award ceremony.
As we push on up the coast to our final destination the frequency of palm trees increases and the temperature’s taken it up a notch. Nearly time to Goa…
So here we are, all made it safe and sound to the beach paradise of Goa. We’re here un Palolem, an hour south of Goa town proper and a bit more relax than tourist central.
The admin doesn’t stop for dumball one though. Collecting the walkies, photos for the challenges awards nominations… Not to mention arranging the party tonight, sourcing DJs and finding some new awards from town… Back to work.
So that’s it. A fantastic send off last night and a lazy day today, recovering from a tough week and mulling over schemes for potential future dumball.
At the awards we had some live music, amazing dancers, fire tricks and some lucky dumballers got some of the best awards money can’t buy (that we brought). The ‘monkey’ went to 2 people this year – James Kelly for doing the dumball with 3 days notice, 3 months driving experience and in a team all by himself and Steven Williams for keeping everyone laughing and always smiling.
Will we come back to India? We’ll see. There’s a lot of discussions going on. It’s been perfect for the dumball – it’s high on the list. Watch this space. But for now, this is dumball one signing off.
Yetha from Goa…