Across the Sahara Desert on Kinetic Honda scooter. Chapter 15

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Anticlimax in Pune!

 Two days after our return a big meeting was arranged in the conference room of Kinetic Honda office in Neeta Towers in Pimpri, Pune.

There were the six of us, 0ur boss and Editor of Car & Bike International magazine Adil Jal Darukhanawala, Mr. Shige0 Hirose Managing Director, Mr. Arun Firodia Chairman of Kinetic, Mr. Sambomatsu, and other senior officers of the company.

After the initial greetings and exchange of pleasantries, the STAR of our trip was brought out: The Vide0 Camera which Honda had given us and had recorded extensive Vide0 footage of our journey!

And this STAR became our undoing. It turned our victory into defeat!

We – all six of us – believed that the Vide0 Camera would record only images = videos, NOT SOUND!

How wrong we were! I would say all six of us were imbeciles / idiots!

The Camera actually automatically recorded ALL sounds whenever the video camera was switched on.

The conference room was converted into a theatre and the vide0 recording was projected on a white wall.

This was the first recording and as the images played on the screen, a voice spoke out: The words (I don’t remember the exact words – it has been over 21 years) – something like “These Japanese are are sucking our blood”.

This was clearly the voice of the guy who was assigned the job of driving the jeep and had done drivers job all thru the journey. As a driver he was OK, but it seems his mentality was also stuck at the driver’s level.

This guy was from Delhi, and though originally from the south, had lived in Delhi for the major portion of his life, and had imbibed the Delhi mentality: The best way to appear superior is by criticizing and deriding everything and everybody else!

Personally I was quite satisfied and happy with whatever facilities Honda Motor Co had provided us. I have said so right in the beginning of this story. When we parted company with Mr. Sambomatsu at Algiers, he had given us MORE THAN ENOUGH MONEY IN CASH to last us (and more) till we reached Lagos. I think Honda Motor Co had been more than fair to us. In fact they had been generous!

Yet this man with driver mentality had nothing good to say about Honda. He continued: “The Japp0s are exploiting us like cheap Labor”! I thought: “WTF did he expect? The NOBEL Prize?




 We did not know where to hide our faces!

 Nobody had forced us to undertake this trip. Everybody had enthusiastically volunteered, including our Jeep driver who had this “Foot-in-Mouth” disease! The deal had been spelt out to us in full detail. We ALL knew what the deal was. We knew what the financial deal was: COSTs WOULD BE MET. And they were met – Fully and satisfactorily.

 No bonus had been promised for successful completion of the trip, though it would be welcome if it came. It might have still come, IF this stoopid driver had kept his mouth shut. Or, if we had been savvy enough to know in advance that the Vide0 Camera would faithfully record every word we said.

Personally I considered it a privilege to have been able to do this trip. The 0ne bonus I got – and I think we all got – was a Honda F1 wrist watch something you cannot buy, at least not in India. It is an exclusive watch. I still have it. There are I believe ONLY six such wristwatches in India with the six of us. It is a great memento of a great adventure. I am satisfied and happy even today.

Nobody expected such an ungrateful comment. Nobody spoke a word.

Mr. Arun Firodia got up and walked out. Mr. Shigeo Hirose also walked out. 0ther people – Kinetic Honda senior 0fficers followed suit.

Adil Jal Darukhanawala was also obviously disgusted. He also got up and left. The rest of us also got up and trooped out. Nobody spoke. We went down the stairs of Neeta Towers, go onto our bikes and left.

No other meeting took place EVER AGAiN between KHML officers and the team. The subject and the trip were never mentioned again.

Of course, Honda Motor Co and Kinetic did the post event media hype. Every newspaper carried our story – in English, Hindi, Marathi and many other languages. Every auto magazine carried our story. Even social magazines carried our story. (There was no internet and facebook at that time) .There were many other press & TV interviews and other hype. We had become heroes!

All proof of the journey was in the Vide0 Camera. I had taken some hard copy photos with my film camera – there were no digital cameras then. The pictures which you see along with this story were taken by a Rolleiflex camera which I had got from Rollei Singapore Pvt. Ltd. where I had worked 1973-1976, after SELLiNG HASHiSH IN ViETNAM in 1973 . You can read about it under Biography at www.dilipbam.com .

In the event Honda did not follow up with Guinness Book of World Records for an entry. Why should they? Why would they? Honda name is bigger than Guinness. Honda does not need Guinness.

Adil Jal Darukhnawala could have followed it up, but probably did not bk0z his own name would not figure in it since he was not on the trip. Maybe not enough motivation. I dunn0 if any of the others followed up with Guinness. I think nobody did. At least I did not.

For one, following up with Guinness in those days would entail a lot of paper WORK, since there was no internet. It would need much telephone talk (=much expense), since overseas telephone calls in those days cost hundreds of Rupees for a few minutes talk, and one had to wait for days sitting next to the phone for your “Trunk Call” to mature! There were no mobile phones at that time, and land line 0verseas call to Guinness in England cost something like Rs.100/- per minute, when petrol was eight Rupees a liter!

For another, if I followed it up and Guinness gave us an entry, the name of the two “gentlemen” who beat me up, would also figure. Why should I do that?

You are here: Autobiography Across the Sahara Desert on Kinetic Honda scooter. Chapter 15


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