Words: Sirish Chandran
The Dakar rally is a long, long way from India. I started from home in Pune at 10 at night on the 30th, kissed my wife and wished her a happy new year (any ideas on how to make it up to her are most, most welcome), and hit the expressway for Mumbai and got on our flight to Dubai. A ginormous Emirates A380 spat us out at Dubai after circling the airport for 50 minutes thanks to horrible smog (worse than Delhi!) and after a 3 hour wait, we boarded a 777 (weird – big plane for short flight, small(ish) plane for long flight) for Sau Paulo that took off an hour late thanks to afore mentioned smog.
15 hours later we arrived in Brazil, bored out of our minds. Okay I really shouldn’t complain – Emirates is one of the nicer airlines in the world, the seat next to me was empty, the selection of movies and TV series was terrific (watch the new Jason Bourne movie; Veep Season 5 takes it up another notch), two pending stories for the Feb issue of evo India got hammered out, and on-board Wi-Fi worked well enough to wish everybody a happy new year on WhatsApp (while flying somewhere over the Atlantic). Only complaint: our Madrasi travel agent decided I was a vegetarian and pre-ordered an Asian Vegetarian meal for me (they finally found some meat for my dinner).
Five hours wait at Sau Paulo and we boarded a TAM flight for Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay. And it being New Year’s eve, was almost empty, and in consequence absurdly cold.
35 hours later I filled a baggage claim form at the TAM airlines counter at Asuncion airport for my Sparco kit bag to arrive, a flat-out taxi ride to our hotel and, at the stroke of mid night on the 31st (at this point the phone has given up trying to keep proper time, my watch is showing 2nd of January) we checked in to our hotel and watched a beautiful fireworks display going on at the other end of the city.
Dakar, here we come!
Source: evo india