Crossing the finish line: Day 16 Pune – Mumbai

The last day!! Before we took off, Till had tried hard last night to make the battery in the black Think work, but all attempts failed. It will stay a mistery probably for another few weeks, until the car is back in the repair shop in Switzerland, why the black Think could not be started here in India.

Pune, a city of more than 3 mio. people, is not a place to spend a holiday. The air quality is very bad, the sky is white and smoggy. We were glad to leave, after taking this group photo:

When we reached Mumbai, I felt really sick again, and I was so glad when we reached the hotel. Karel, our doctor, gave me some tablets against feever and stomach problems. As we had a great “sundowner welcome party” at the residency of the Consul General of Switzerland, Werner Nievergelt, I wanted to be fit again. But despite of all European tablets, I realized that it’s not so easy to fight Indian bugs!

In the afternoon, after relaxing a few hours in the hotel, we reached the residency of the Consul, next to the Sea in Central Mumbai. A little heaven on Earth, with a great view onto the Sea:

The party was the greatest end of the WAVE that we could imagine. our great hosts Ester and Werner had invited many, many people and so the teams were explaining their cars dirung the whole evening eating great local food and enjoying the fresh breeze from the Sea (while I was lying in a bed and trying to fight my feever for most of the evening).

For all of us it was an unbelievable moment to realize that we have crossed the finsh line! We have made it! The only thing that remains to be done: Bring the ships to the port on Thursday and do some Chrismas shopping – in Mumbai!

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Day 15 Kolhapur – Satara – Pune

Two students from the KIT (Kolhapur Institute of Technology) escorted team REVA and team TWIKE from the hotel directly to the institute this morning, while teams THINK and TWINGO drove directly to Satara. It was again one of those incredible encounters with exciting students and staff, that we will miss. I made a lecture for more than one hour and the students asked very good questions, showing how much enthusiasm and interest they have for electric cars and renewable energies.

the staff wanted to invite us for coffee, but unfortunately we had to leave, as the next school in Satara was already waiting. Paul drove the 120 km in one hour and 45 minutes, on a perfect road, with an average speed of almost 80 km/h as long as we were on the highway. An incredible and new experience in India! In Satara, again two students on a motorbike escorted us all the way to their college. This lecture we enjoyed especially, as it was our last one, and our last visit to a college.

All the colleges that we visited here in India, I must admit, were great partners and made our WAVE in India an unforgettable experience for all of us. We had great interactions, we met great people and learned a lot. This is what made our WAVE so unique. We were not here as tourists, but as ambassadors for new, clean technology, and so we got to got to know this country from a unique perspective. From a real and authentic one.

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Day 14 Goa – Belgaum – Kolhapur

It was our probably most beautiful drive till now, when we drove the windy road from the Sea up the hill towards Belgaum. But we did not only see jungle and spectacular views, but also mining trucks, one after another, for many kilometers, belonging to the iron mine.

It was the first time on our trip that I finally had a chance to take some pictures of monkey, next to our cars.

In Belgaum it was not a college waiting for us, but here it was the Nucleus Shopping Centre. It took a while till we could find enough electricity, but even here it worked out at the end.

In the evening we finally reached the city of Kolaphur before sunset, and much to our surprise, the road was excellent. May be we are not far from Mumbai any more?


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Day 13: Goa

This morning Andrew and me, we wanted to go for a shopping tour in the Twike. But all of a sudden the Twike gave out, just 4 km away from the hotel. A rikshaw was quickly organized, that pulled Andrew in his Twike back to the office. It was the Twike’s first breakdown on this tour, but luckily Andrew and Jean-Claude quickly managed to find the error: Some cables and connectors were loose and worn out, after now more than 2000 km on bumpby Indian roads!
In the afternoon, also Team Twingo and Team Think finally arrived in Goa. We haven’t seen each other since two days now, as the Twingo had a charger problem and Franco, team-member of Team Think, had become ill two days ago. Tomorrow we will finally be all four cars together driving up the hills towards Pune. We now have only 2.5 days left until Mumbai!!
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Day 12: Honavara – Goa

This morning I felt much better again, and luckily it was only a 163 km drive today on smooth roads. When we finally entered the State of Goa, the Goa Police stopped us out of curiosity, and for asking us for cigarettes and Swiss coins (which we didn’t have). Goa is something unique in India: it belonged to Portugal until 1961. But today, I couldn’t see anything that reminded me of the Portuguese heritage.
Just before 3 pm we reached our small hotel in Benauli and then we jumped into the warm Sea. Paul met his wife Margrit, and in the evening we all enjoyed fresh seafood and pineapple juice. We were glad to be in Goa. Finally, there was nothing to do, for the next 36 hours!
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Day 11: Badra – Shimoga – Honavara

Paul and I started the day at 06:45 with a boatride inside Badra National Park. We saw some amazing birdlife and enjoyed the fresh breeze, and we felt like in another world. It was absolutely calm, it seemed like being lightyears away from civilisation. Quite a contrast to our every day life in our electric cars!
Around midday we finally arrived at the Jawaharlal Nehru National College of Engineering in the city of Shimoga, where we had an inspiring interaction with the sudents that everyone enjoyed. Via the Joc Falls we followed a very curvy and narrow road, full of potholes, down to the coast, to Honavara. In the evening I started to become quite sick, I went to bed with stomac problems and fever.


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Day 10: Take a break in the Bandra National Park

We started our day with a delicious breakfast: goatfeet!
Today we had a break, and Paul and me, we wanted to spend it in the Badra National Park. The only problem we had: Where is the entrance?? As we drove around on the edge of the park, desperatley looking for a road sign, a nice man stopped next to our REVA as he thought that we would probably have a battery problem. Finally he explained us where to go, but first he invited us on his coffee farm. We enjoyed a really friendly invitation, with delicious watermelon and huge butterflies flying between the coffee trees.
Then we ended up at the Forestry Office, where the friendly rangers explained us that the guides were on strike today, and we could only get permission to enter the park in Bangalore today. But the rangers also came up with the idea that we could drive another 90 km to the other side of the park, to the jungle lodge, to enjoy a safari there. So we decided to go there.
The drive was amazing! A new road without a single pothole (what a difference to yesterday’s road!) led us through a marvelous, green landscape. It was the most beautiful drive so far in India, and Paul was speeding and pushed the pedal as hard as he could, as there was no traffic at all in our way. Finally we ended up at the lodge, above a scenic, huge lake, and we could immediately depart to a safari. We saw four elephants, three gaurs (an Indian specie of wild cow), many monkeys, two peacocks, an eagle and finally a leopard, a really rare sight in the park! Paul finally charged his REVA at the reception, and we have agreed with all other teams to meet again tomorrow at 11:30 am at the college in the city of Shimoga.
By the way, the other good news came from team Twingo today: they really managed to get their broken charger replaced today! Thanks to the great efforts of the engineers at REVA the Twingo will be back on the road again with fully charged batteries tomorrow at 5 am in Bangalore. They will try to catch up with us and if everything goes well, we should meet them again in 2 days in Goa.
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