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An expedition to explore India

Madhur Tankha



CHALLENGING JOB: The members of Hummer India Expedition 2005, (standing) Enrique Suarez, navigator (left), Tony Velasquez, team leader, with Angel Bajares, photographer, and Pedro Castro Amare, journalist, in New Delhi on Friday. — Photo: V. V. Krishnan

NEW DELHI: It was the curiosity to explore an exotic destination that spurred the four-member Hummer India team from Venezuela to take on the challenge of driving their "war car'' on the rugged roads across this country.

The Hummer team -- comprising leader Tony Velasquez, navigator and co-driver Enrique Suarez, journalist Pedro Castro Amare and photographer Angel Bajares -- which had a rendezvous with the media here on Friday was all charged up to complete the Indian leg of its expedition in its robust Hummer H-1 car.

During its 60-day tour the team will also be travelling to Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan before again entering India and concluding their expedition in Chennai.

The team started out from Chennai on September 5 and has already travelled through Kanyakumari, Goa, Panaji, Mumbai, Aurangabad, Jaipur, Jaisalmer and Agra. "It was our earnest desire to know about your country's culture, religious places and language that motivated us to come all the way from Venezuela. Earlier, I did not know anything about India but now I keep learning new facts about your amazing country. People have been showering so much affection on us that it is simply heart-warming. Every day we are fascinated by something unique and interesting," said Mr. Velasquez, who is an expert at handling the heavy Hummer car that is equipped with a General Motors engine.

On the drawbacks and obstacles faced so far, Mr. Velasquez said they had to face the wrath of the monsoon and floods in some parts of the country.

Moreover, the language kept changing as they travelled from one State to another, making them cram up new words.

Although Mr. Velasquez said it was a daunting task to drive on the rugged Indian roads, he nevertheless complimented the drivers for remaining vigilant.

The underlying objective of the expedition is to explore the exotic regions, interact with local inhabitants, and to show the humanistic values of an extraordinary nation and culture to more than 80 countries through satellite television.

Mr. Amare said he would be showing six films of Indian temples, nature preservation areas and eco-tourism spots in Venezuela and expressed confidence that all the films would be well received there.

Dr. Suarez said he did not even once have to use an anti-biotic or vaccine while travelling around the countryside and expressed satisfaction that none of the team members fell ill even though they had been eating indigenous spicy food at different restaurants.

Dedicated to the exploration of the most interesting places in the world, Hummer Expeditions started in 1997 when a team was sent to Alaska.

As Goodyear, one of the leading tyre manufacturers in the world, is the main sponsor it has provided its advanced tyre technology to the vehicle to withstand the gruelling terrain during the expedition.

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