Quest for a tuk-tuk

Sign displaying that just two-wheel vehicles are allowed on a street with a three-wheel rickshaw in the background

Quest for a tuk-tuk

The only goal we had to accomplish while waiting for the tuk-tuk to get ready was withdrawing the money from the bank accounts and guess what happened: We had some serious trouble to get the cash at all. In the end, we gave up and booked a train ticket, but was that the end? See for yourself…

We miscalculated the limit of the credit cards first of all because the bank had already refilled them… much earlier than we thought they would. So the plan to withdraw all the money from January to have some extra went totally wrong. Instead, I finished my complete credit card limit for February already in Sri Lanka. All our calculations were in vain! But for cases like this, we actually have two debit cards as on us…

But despite this backup, we failed to get the money from the accounts, because all ATM machines in India seemed to work on their own principles. I explored Chennai on a bike for days and tried every single ATM I could find and just one (I mean just ONE!) out of 20 worked. On top of that, the only working ATM machine in the whole of Chennai was not able to provide amounts over 10,000 rupees a day. To pay the whole amount of the 80,000 Rs, we would have needed at least eight withdrawals… in other words, we would have needed to stay another eight days.

Giving up…

Clueless about what to do to get the money to pay for our rickshaw, we abandoned the plan of buying it. We tried… and tried. But in the end, we gave up. We were frustrated and desperate. All the hard work in vain? The belief everything would work out, all the backup plans, which went totally wrong… Telling Princeley we could not fulfill our part of the agreement because we did not have the money, in the end, was by far the hardest part of giving up. It felt just wrong and selfish to do so. But after staying five useless nights in the Broad Lands Hotel in Chennai, we booked a train ticket to finally leave this dirty city. Without this superb hotel and the nice people there, we would have never been able to make pursue our dream this far. It’s old corridors and the gorgeous view from the rooftop, somehow made us feel at home. Somehow gave us a safe harbor amidst the madness that they call Chennai.

Broadlands Hotel's beautiful rooftop during evening light

Photodyssee author Flo standing on top of a rooftop in Chennai

A mirror and a bathroom sink attached to a moldy wall

An old man feeding pigeons on a plaza in Chennai

Our friend Eno showcasing his book

The sunset as seen from the rooftop of the Broadlands Hotel in Chennai

Photodyssee author Flo locking the pastell blue door to our room in Broadlands Hotel

A new glimpse of hope

In the night, which was supposed to be the very last night in Broad Lands (on our quest to get the money we had already stayed for three nights more than planned) we met Alex, a young man from Switzerland. He had heard of our crazy idea to buy a tuk-tuk and told us: “Don’t stop pursuing your dreams just because it seems like there is no way. You are young, so just do it. There always is a way… Fuck the train ticket you paid for… the idea and the motivation to actually make it come true is the hardest part… So for fuck’s sake go out and do it!“

He also suggested us to use Western Union to get the money from our bank accounts. To be honest we had never thought about this form of retrieving cash and were bewildered by this simple yet brilliant idea. Of course… even with Western Union, there were problems, but after some more trouble and another day in Chennai, we finally had the godforsaken money in our hands. Oh my god… how excited we were! An unimaginable surge of positive energy flowed through us.

The feeling of success!

All those ups and downs… Now gone, over! So we went to the Chennai Garage to make our dream come true. The feeling when we saw the tuk-tuk, our tuk-tuk, for the first time, was incredible. The moment when it has been released from its cover is one of the best memories of my entire life. I am quite sure it will always be. Both of us had freaking goosebumps and could not wait to give it a test ride… Finally!

Our rickshaw covered by a green plastic sheet

Photodysse author Flo sitting inside our rickshaw for the first time

Photodyssee author Flo grinning about the fact that we had bought a rickshaw

The mechanics of the Chennai Garage preparing our rickshaw for its first drive ever

The mechanic showing us how to refuel our tuk-tuk

dirty hand of an Indian mechanic

The paint shop of the Chennai Garage

The mechanics of the Chennai Garage discussing how to repair our horn

The owner of the Chennai Garage Princley amongst his cars and a rickshaw

Photodyssee author Rico first attempt at driving a rickshaw

After the test round, we made one last checkup and asked some questions about legal matters and the insurances needed. We were the owners of a tuk-tuk and damn were we proud of it! This very moment of relief and pure ecstasy was well worth the effort. The glimpse of it carried us through all the unsolvable problems… And then off we went because adventure awaited us!

  • Dianne

    omg you guys – how wonderful! We met you in Broadlands in Chennai when you had just managed to get the money and were picking up your tuk tuk the next day. I finally looked you up today here now! I remember you so well! As a rather ‘grown up’ woman I was a bit worried after you but also very excited!!!! Wow wow what a trip – and I mean that in more ways than one 🙂 I will be using you as an example in encouraging others to pursue their dreams! Your photo’s and journey are amazing – huge congrats you guys!


    1. Rico

      Hi Diane, thank you so much for your kind words… Really appreciate them! We try to catch up as much as we can with our posts but still are sooo far behind, because way too much has happened since India.

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