So as I mentioned in the Pre-Rickshaw story, I told Mark that I was off go get a rickshaw donated for 43 days. Ahmedabad is the most polluted city in India, which is hardly a record to be proud of. Naturally, or should I say unnaturally, one of the primary causes of this pollution comes from vehicular exhaust. I remember my last trip to Delhi in 2000, I caught instant bronchitis from the wretched pollution. Since then all rickshaws and buses in Delhi have been converted to CNG (compressed natural gas) and supposedly the air pollution has gone down dramatically.

As part of our walk, Mark and I have decided to spend the nights sleeping on the streets in the various wards. In order to bathe and rest and blog and eat healthier, etc, we have decided we will come home in the afternoons. Did I mention that our 43 day ‘Tour d’Ahmedabad’ takes place in the absolute hottest part of the year in India (Ouch!)

iitrickshawparkedsm_21So the question came up – how are we planning on getting home? We could bike – this is natural and healthy (if you can ignore the pollution factor) – something we would like to endorse, but the distances we would have to ride there and back to our home are very long and would take place in the hottest hours. It would take away from our street efforts and we would arrive back on the streets bathed in sweat. We didn’t really want to rickshaw or motorbike just because we didn’t want to be part of the pollution problem. We figured that a CNG rickshaw would be ideal because it was an endorsement of a needed solution.

Since they are rare, it would have to be pre-arranged. We thought the most fun solution would be if we had our own rickshaw that we could paint the colors of the Indian flag, and could embellish in many other kinds of ways.

In Ahmedabad, there is a Western-style grocery store chain called Adani’s. Adani’s also has a couple CNG stations popping up. Since a rickshaw is a rather expensive item for us to purchase, we thought about how we might possibly get one donated to our cause. Since we didn’t really know where to start asking and since we knew that as a business, Adani’s had the capital and could gain not only invaluable public exposure for supporting an effort like ours, but also increased business as we helped create a strong push toward CNG, they were a logical place to start.

So I headed out the door on a mission to get a rickshaw donated to us – ideally one that could be painted the colors of the Indian flag, and ideally with a driver included.

I had no phone, so I simply walked down the street into a large Adani’s store, several blocks away. One might think this is a foolish way to proceed, but this is India. That’s how things work around here – at least in my experience.

For instance, just the day before, I had walked into the Crossword bookstore (a large, emerging Western style bookstore chain), and asked to see if they might be interested in selling the Gujarati version of Here Come the Tickle bugs! Within five minutes, I had quickly passed further and further up the chain of command, until I had the owner of the store on the phone, who quickly agreed to sell the book. Simple as that.

Now, I walked into a general Adani’s store, seemingly quite unrelated to the Adani’s CNG division. Within three minutes, I talked to the first store employee I saw, who connected me to the manager who sent me to the building two doors down. A couple minutes later, I was on the ninth floor, next to the CEO of Adani’s office (just found out the following day, our neighbor who I burned to write this blog entry happens to be his cousin).

Apparently, Adani’s is an enormous corporation. From the pictures on the wall, it’s clear they are involved in so many areas of big industry – from piping gases, CNG, shipping, storage, moving equipment, etc., etc. They are major league players (stock tip).

So there I was, getting off the elevator, surrounded by well-dressed, Indian executives, with my backpack, t-shirt, and dirty jeans, and I simply went in and asked to talk to someone about CNG gas. What’s amazing is that they took me seriously.

I met with one man, and I showed him an article about Mark and I in the Times of India from the previous day. He took the time to read the whole article, and then I told him about our plans. He was delighted, but informed me that he was the wrong person to talk to. He gave me the names of the Vice-President and the head of marketing in the next building over and I was on my way. Within just a short period, I was in the office of the Vice President.

I made my pitch to him and then to the marketing director and they said that they would cover the expenses of renting a rickshaw for the full time, hire a driver, and paint it as desired. Phenomenal.

With this vehicle, our potential to raise awareness and support for CNG as well as to do all kinds of crazy, cool stuff is there for the taking. The limit to our imagination is really our only limit, it seems).

So from there, I walked over to the Indicorps office to tell Anand that his dream was about to partially come true (to understand this, you’ll have to wait for the history of this trip). For the first time, I saw Anand with a great big smile.

I was told that there was a major meeting happening in 10 minutes, at a location 10 minutes away, that I had to go to. It was with P.U. Asnani, the head of waste management in Ahmedabad and a world authority on the subject, working in 27 separate countries. He was delighted to know about our plans and felt strongly that our efforts could be extraordinarily useful in helping to shape public opinion about household garbage and recycling efforts throughout Ahmedabad.

Oh yeah, this is another one of those areas of substance we are pushing for.

The universe again demonstrated an uncanny ability to make extraordinary events unfold effortlessly. If it was a film or TV show, it would hardly seem believable. But in the dream world – especially for us here in India, life just sometimes seems to work like this.

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