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Across the Sahara Desert on Kinetic Honda scooter. Chapter 1

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Honda’s 0peration SAHARA ATTACK !

Prologue – what is it about?

This is probably the most arduous and dangerous two wheeler journey ever made by anybody anywhere in the world, and definitely NEVER BEFORE (or since) by any Indian for sure. Though not listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, it is a World Record. NOBODY IN THE WORLD HAD EVER BEFORE RIDDEN AN UNGEARED SMALL-WHEELED 100 cc SCOOTER ACROSS THE WORLD’s LARGEST DESERT = The SAHARA DESERT in North Africa, 7000 km west from India. The Sahara desert is THREE TIMES LARGER THAN THE WHOLE OF INDiA! The reason why this event is not listed in the Guinness Book is given at the end, in the last chapter of this story.

I have called this journey most arduous and dangerous. Yet the danger was not the kind of traffic accident danger that you encounter on the roads and highways in India or elsewhere in the civilized inhabited world. Or even the danger of mountain roads like Ladakh=Landslides & Rockfalls; and Mizoram (where 0ncoming traffic keeps to drivers side, that is to the right side, not to the left, as in the rest of India. This is bkoz the road – say from Kolasib to Aizawl the capital of Mizoram, and further south to Lungleih – is very narrow, just wide enough to let two Buses pass, so both the opposing drivers steer to their own side=driver side (Right hand side). 0ne side is a mountain wall just 0ne inch from the bus body, and other side is a sheer drop of hundreds of feet just an inch beyond the front wheels of the bus, WHiCH I COULD SEE! Make sure your driver is MiZO, udderwise you are dead!

Eh? What about bikes? Sorry I dunn0! I dinn drive bike in Mizoram. The terrain of Mizoram is the LUSHAi HiLLs. The characteristics of the Lushai Hills is that they are very sharp cones and very sharp valleys, with the valley floor being almost V-shaped, with hardly in flat land. Yet they are all inhabited by people because there is much rain and vegetation.

Of course, in the Sahara desert there was no danger of falling off a cliff or skidding off a road or of any kind of accident happening! Where we were going, accidents were impossible. For accident to happen there must be other people and other vehicles competing for road space. But in the Sahara – there were no other people, no other vehicles, flat terrain and no road. So accident was impossible.

The only possibility was of simply falling down in the soft sand – which was also OK, bkoz there would be no injury. Why no injury? Bkoz the sand was as soft as a mattress, the KiHo (bike) speed would be: not more than 10 kph, so no chance of injury of any kind. But falls would cause waste of time, and delay. Yet, reaching destination before dark was critical. Being in the desert after dark WiTH HEADLiGHTs ON, meant inviting Tuaregs ! And Tuaregs have only one profession==LOOT-MAAR! (Loot=Rob; Maar=Kill). What else can anyone do in the desert to stay alive and make a living?

In Loot-Maar, the Tuaregs don’t 0perate like Indians who First Loot, then maybe Maar. Tuaregs are 0pposite: They first Maar and then Loot. So, since they have already Looted your water & your camel (or car or scooter or whatever transport was under you), they just vanish in the desert without bothering to finish the job knowing nobody would follow them – bkoz nobody COULD follow them bkoz nobody WOULD follow them bkoz there is NOBODY! The CUNT IN YOU US sandstorm in the Sahara wipes out tracks within minutes! Without water and transport one cannot survive in the Sahara even for a day! So the chance of staying alive after a Tuareg attack was ZERO!

Beginning from Casablanca in Morocco (Northwest Africa), our ride=route would take us East along the northern coast of Morocco [also known as EL MAROC], cross over into Algeria and drive along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea up to Algiers, the Capital of Algeria. From Casablanca to Algiers is about 1000 km. From Algiers we would make a 90 degree right turn and head due south: 2500 km across the whole of Algeria – cross into Republic of Niger and another 1500 km across Niger and into Nigeria, and drive another 1000 km from the Northern tip of Nigeria to its southern tip, ending at Lagos, the Capital of Nigeria.

The dangers were many: Political unrest and Sectarian strife was rife in Algeria in 1991 – street shootouts were common. Getting shot was par for the course. The terrain was daunting. There was no road – only sand – for a thousand miles in any direction.

Compared to this, our own Thar desert in Rajasthan in India is a garden. I have been to the THAR desert many times: Bikaner – Jaisalmer – Sam – Barmer – even Tanot (on Thursday 7.March.2013, where the real same dunes are, places we associate with the desert.

 

This is at Tanot, 140 km by road from Jaisalmer, far west, near the Pakistan border. See some plants on & around the dune? No such thing in Sahara – not even a blade of grass!

Jaisalmer being considered the heart of the desert can hardly be equated with the Sahara – There is a lake in Jaisalmer, named GADESAR Lake, where I actually did boating in March 2003and again in March 2013! How can you call it a desert when there is enough water, not only for drinking, bathing and washing you asshole, but even has a lake big enough to do boating – many boats at a time!

There are many deserts in the world: In Australia, 66% of Australia is desert, but yet, nobody calls Australia a desert cunt ree. There is desert in South Amerika, in Chile, named Atacama Desert, but it is very small, and can be crossed without dying. There is desert in USA, in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico, and some so-called badlands in Nebraska and the Dakotas, also in the USA. Yet all these deserts combined would still not be even half of SAHARA! In Asia, there is the Gobi desert in Northern China and the Takla Makan desert in western China. Even the Gobi desert and the Takla Makan desert are nothing compared to the SAHARA, which is the largest, most isolated and most dangerous desert in the world.

In the sands of the SAHARA, there is not a single blade of grass as far as the eye can see. No habitation. No signboards. No markers. No people. No guidance.….and also No Water! Nothing! Remember, this was1991 that is 22 years ago! There were No mobile phones. No GPS. No GPRS. No internet. No Google Maps. Nothing! All we had, to show us direction, was a compass – same as what Columbus had in 1492 – five hundred years ago!

If at all one came across people, they would be Tuaregs – the tribes that live in the desert – and they are mostly unfriendly. Tuaregs are born in the desert, live in the desert and die in the desert. They do not believe in nationality: Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Mali or Mauritania; Tuaregs believe that wherever there is desert, it is their land. Indeed, in the desert there are no marked international boundaries. No rivers or creeks (Sir Creek?). No mountains or hills to mark borders. Only SAND DUNES which keep SHiFTiNG! Tuaregs are also always SHiFTiNG like the sand dunes, and do not recognize any authority except their own, and they back it up with AK47s! They shoot first and ask questions afterwards!

It was @ December 1991 that we set out to create a world record. I was living in Pune (in Western India, a hundred miles=160 km south-east of Bombay, now called Mumbai). I was making a modest living testing bikes for Car & Bike Magazine as well as teaching as visiting faculty at an MBA institute in Pune, India, named IMDR==Institute of Management Development & Research, which is the oldest MBA institute in Pune established in 1974.

WHAT RECORD AND WHY?

Honda Motor Co of Japan had partnered with Kinetic Engg. Co. of Pune to produce India's first automatic (Variomatic=ungeared=without gears) scooter named KiNETiC HONDA (=KiHo), which also was the first two-wheeler in India to have self start. Starting production @ 1986, this scooter had become very popular in India and sales were soaring. Japan had become a very expensive country, so Honda was making this scooter in India & trying to sell this Indian Made Japanese Scooter in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, oil rich and hence a big market.

You are here: Autobiography Across the Sahara Desert on Kinetic Honda scooter. Chapter 1

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