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By MYRON LOVE It was a moment of pure terror for Winnipeggers Adam Sawyer, Jenna Brown and Jenna’s father, Bobby. There they were, driving down on a two-lane highway in a tuktuk – a motorized three-wheeled rickshaw – when a huge oil tanker approached them in the opposite lane – and another huge oil tanker came out from behind the first one, attempting to pass, and was barrelling right toward the three Winnipeggers.


Fortunately, they had just enough room on the side of the narrow road to get out of the way in time.
The Browns, father and daughter, and Sawyer were participating in the annual Mallaber Rampage, a competition in which foreign tourists have to drive 1100 kilometers in seven days in motorized rickshaws with Goa, the former Portuguese enclave on the coast in west central India as their destination.
The purpose of the Mallabar Rampage is twofold, Bobby Brown explains. One goal is to encourage tourism in southern India, a part of India that attracts very few tourists. The other purpose is to raise money primarily for the Mangalore Round Table, which helps support local causes in the region.
Participants can help support other charities as well. Jenna Brown notes that one team was raising money for cancer research while a second group was collecting funds to help succor abused women in India.
It was Jenna Brown who first learned about the Mallabar Rampage challenge. Two years ago, Jenna , having completed university, headed off to Australia to teach special needs children. She left Australia at the beginning of the year to travel in Asia.
“I found out about the rickshaw challenge,” she says, “and contacted my dad to see if he wanted to join me in this adventure.”
Bobby Brown, who had last been in India 35 years before, readily agreed - as did Adam Sawyer, a friend of Jenna’s from Winnipeg who was also traveling in Asia.
There were 17 teams in the competition. The Winnipeggers dubbed their vehicle the “Polar Bears” and decorated it with an image of a polar bear and a Canadian flag.
“We were given two days training and sent on our way (on April 4),” Jenna reports.
“It was mentally and physically challenging,” says Adam Sawyer. “We were riding in a glorified lawnmower. I was terrified the entire time. It was the scariest thing I have ever done in my life – and the most rewarding.”
In India, Jenna Brown points out, there are no rules of the road – and no lanes. “We were sharing the narrow roads with cars and trucks, bicycles and cows and oxen.”
Bobby Brown comments on the constant honking: “The horns spoke their own language,” he says. “A car honking from behind would be trying to pass while other honkers were trying to cut into traffic. The buses were the worst for honking.”
Jenna Brown notes that there were people everywhere along the roads living and working.
The Winnipeggers did find the local people to be very friendly and helpful. “Any time we had a problem (such as a flat tire and getting lost), up to a dozen men would rush over to help us,” Jenna says. “We didn’t see many women out and about though.”
Now the competition wasn’t simply a matter of seeing who could reach Goa the fastest. There were also such things as finding an India temple or visiting a school for underprivileged kids (where Sawyer put on a show with his ukulele), or finding a synagogue.
“We didn’t know there were any Jewish people in India,” Adam Sawyer says. “It was interesting going into Jewtown and seeing Hebrew writing.”
The money that the Winnipeggers raised helped the Mangalore Round Table buy a dialysis unit for a government hospital for the poor, Sawyer reports.

While Sawyer is looking for a job back in Winnipeg and not sure what he wants to do in the future, his experience in India, he says, has shown him the importance of giving back to the community.

Jenna Brown is considering enrolling in the fall in a Masters program at the University of Toronto.
Bobby Brown is looking forward to returning to India next year with his wife, Debbie, for a third visit.