Thursday, 7 February 2019

January Meeting


Despite (or perhaps because of!) the bitterly cold weather, the January meeting attracted the largest gathering of members seen to date including several who have just joined.
The attraction was the return of Antonia Gallop and no one was disappointed by her sparkling presentation.
Her subject this time was a trip to Northern India that she took a few years ago with seventeen others to raise money for the Charity, Stope. This however was very different from the usual package tour. She and her compatriots did the travelling on some well worn Royal Enfield Motorbikes. She explained how the first hurdle, even for experienced motor cyclist was how to master their steeds - as many of the controls were very different to those that they were used to riding in the UK. Sometimes they were the complete reverse. Nevertheless after some brief testing they were off. 

Antonia  went through the "adventure" of riding through the dusty tracks and the rules that the team had to keep going if one of the machines broke down. The repairs would be carried out by the back up bus that also carried supplies and a doctor as well as providing an area for recuperation for anyone who was suffering from illness (Apparently they all did at one time or another). She told us that the party soon found the necessity of sounding the horn as loud and long as possible and whilst this was used when confronting other traffic they also had to watch out for unexpected speed bumps. These could be very high but were not always obvious when covered by sand and could prove to be a very unwelcome hazard. 

On at least one occasion this resulted in sending her flying off her motorcycle. During the first part of the journey most of the inhabitation comprised rural villages but they did spend one night in an old fort with over 700 rooms - although most were uninhabitable. They also visited the Rats Temple - the home of 300,000 rats but declined the offer of water from the pool that contained waste from the said creatures! Antonia spoke about her various experiences with the lack of "facilities".  Amusing in retrospect but, perhaps, less so at the time particularly when she drew the attention of several thousand mosquitos whilst using one of the rare closets that she did find! She advised that as the journey neared its end they found the area more built up. 

They eventually reached the India Gate at Delhi and the horrendous traffic in that City. When they had arrived there at the beginning of the trip the windows of the coach picking up had been covered up. They now knew why! Seeing the traffic may well have deterred them from starting off. 

They had initially intended raising £3,000 but had, in fact, raised £47,000. So a good cause had been well rewarded by their experience. She concluded by saying that despite certain misadventures, it had been a journey that she would always remember and was glad that she had done it. Whether she would do it again was another matter!