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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

UAE producer attempts Indian rickshaw journey

Driving 1,200 kilometres across India would be quite a challenge for anyone — but even more so for Peyman Al Awadhi, who is attempting the journey in a rickshaw.
Emirati Peyman Al Awadhi, right, and Abdullah Al Jumah, from Saudi Arabia, will visit seven cities in their three-wheeler in their 1,200-kilometre Rickshaw Challenge across India. Courtesy Peyman Al Awadhi
Emirati Peyman Al Awadhi, right, and Abdullah Al Jumah, from Saudi Arabia, will visit seven cities in their three-wheeler in their 1,200-kilometre Rickshaw Challenge across India. Courtesy Peyman Al Awadhi

DUBAI // Driving 1,200 kilometres across India would be quite a challenge for anyone – but even more so for Peyman Al Awadhi, who is attempting the journey in a rickshaw.

The 39-year-old Emirati TV producer and co-founder of the hugely successful TV series ­Peeta Planet is nearing the end of his journey from Goa to ­Mumbai.

He is filming his trip for his travel show Makshaat – or “excursion” – in the Arabian Gulf, which aims to provide a glimpse into the personal lives of ordinary people living in different countries.

“The Rickshaw Challenge, which is put together by a group in India, is cool because you can explore each city in a group and it’s just adventurous enough,” said Peyman Al Awadhi.

“India is fantastic because there’s so much going on and that you can relate to.

“It doesn’t usually happen and it’s a chance for us to explore and go through all sorts of conditions throughout.

“From one standpoint, the ­Indian population in the GCC is huge, so we kind of feel at home when we come here, to a certain degree. We understand them, which is why I picked India – my grandfather lived in India twice in his life, my father went to high school here and we all speak Hindi.”

Accompanied by his Saudi Arabian friend and colleague Abdullah Al Jumah, an adventurer and author, the pair started their journey on Monday when they travelled 160km over mountains and through jungles, in pouring rain for nine hours.

“We drove through the clouds and it was amazing,” Peyman Al Awadhi said. “We almost got hit by a couple of buses but the journey has been very interesting.”

They had a couple of days to learn how to ride a rickshaw. “It’s not easy,” he said. “There’s balancing, three wheels, and as a vehicle it’s not so safe. But it’s very interesting to drive through dozens of small villages and come up to cities that are being groomed to become hubs. At the end of the day, I don’t know how much of our audience will want to do this but I’m hoping we can instil a bit of curiosity for them to try it out.”

Once he gathers all the content needed, with his journey ending on Sunday, his show will be broadcast via a website.

“We’re quite adventurous and I’ve got a lot of ideas built around travel, food and adventure,” he said. “The show is to encourage people to get to know different cultures, to explore different countries and cities. The young audience in the GCC is a bit more adventurous so we’re trying to find things they can do in places they may have not been before.”

For Al Jumah, India was always on his bucket list. “I never thought my first visit would be exploring the country by rickshaw,” he said. “When Peyman told me about this adventure, I didn’t hesitate. What is better than to explore a land full of wonders and stimulating every one of your senses all at one time?”

Peyman Al Awadhi’s family was worried about the trip, especially with the weather conditions in July known to shift from desert heat to monsoon rains. “But that’s what I admire most about my husband,” said Ahlam, his wife.

“His willingness to accept challenging journeys to fulfil a greater purpose. Of all the experiences around the world, he takes the untravelled routes, gets to know the local barista and chooses the local street food.

“As with all his adventures, I have no doubt that he will get through the race in high spirit and return to his blessings humbled with countless untold stories to reveal to me and all who follow his work. I am very proud of his journey.”

cmalek@thenational.ae

* This article has been amended since it was first published.