…we hope.

 Robbie here, the latest and greatest boondoggler to meet up with the team. We’ve decamped in some town called Bankura, in the middle part of West Bengal. Roads are choppy, forecast is chilly, and the beer flows like the holy Ganges. All that remains is a beeline to National Highway 34, then some 400 km up the narrow strip of land between Bangladesh and Tibet to the Himalayan foothills, with their cricket matches, tea plantations, steam trains, and glorious peaks. We expect to arrive by Thursday night, if all goes well, in time for the Friday Rickshaw Run festivities.

 This afternoon we gave Sally, as we are calling our noble steed these days, a veritable rickshaw hysterectomy — oil change, muffler tightening, the works… We’d been working her way too hard (65 kmph! Grrr!) and she was being a noisy tart about it. Now she purrs like proper little hussy. Also, we were afraid the muffler might actually fall out. No more.

 The Rickshaw Run film crew caught up with us at a hotel in Jarkhand last night, and this morning we gave extensive and silly interviews, and also debuted the Boondoggler’s first two singles, the country-tinged singalong “I Saw It All From a Rickshaw,” with Benji’s shredding harmonica solo and Rogier on the pill-bottle-filled-with-rice shaker, and Rogier’s neo-funk blues number, “Ridin’ in a Rickshaw.”

 We then went back into the canteen and had some Old Monk n Thumbs Up (that’s disgusting Indian rum-and-coke) with “Sabertooth” Pani, head of the infamous “Scorpio” gang, the scourges of south Jarkhand. He and his buddies assured us that it was not their pleasure, but their duty to take us to a proper mechanic in the morning at 6 am and then show us around the countryside for 3 hours, promising to get us safely back on the road by 9. We were doubtful, however, when Sabretooth started his motorbike completely battered and drove into some mattresses that were set up outside the hotel. We were further doubtful when he reversed the bike and did the exact same thing again. Our fears were confirmed this dawn, when we woke up for chai at the ungodly hour of 5:45 and were cruelly stood up by the Scorpios.

 Just one of our many adventures.

 More from the frontlines soon! Everyone take care, and don’t worry, we’re safe and sound. Rogier has taken a Bengali concubine who is acting as our guide through the backwater, and she shouts abuse at aggressive drivers almost as well as she cooks.