I flew into Mumbai on the last day of August to encourage the Indian Authorities to swiftly release our vehicles. The G4 Land Rover support vehicle shipped from New Zealand arrived prior to the main shipment from Europe and was therefore a little further through the clearance procedure. A drive across the chaotic sprawl of Bombay is always time consuming, so the fifty kilometres to Nava Sheva port where our vehicles must be processed took more than two hours. I then spent the day waiting, signing my name innumerable times, waiting some more, walking from warehouse to warehouse, waiting a little more, signing again with still no glimpse of any ‘Tangiers Orange’ to raise my hopes. Finally, I was informed it would be ready for collection the next day which although aggravating was progress.
Sure enough, by close of business the following day I was duly reunited with our trusty Defender. I had also managed to gain access to the rest of the vehicles which for one reason or another could not be ‘unstuffed’ without fettling. Luckily, most issues were resolved during the afternoon ready for inspections and the next tick of the box. In due course, the remaining vehicles from Europe were released and moved to a warehouse outside the bonded area. All in all I have been very happy with our agents dealing with the process of temporary importation.
Lally and I spent the next days organising set-up of local SIM cards, the welcome dinner and the start ceremony, as well as a multitude of other mundane tasks related to the start of the event. However, just when we thought we had all details sorted, news started to break of the chaos and carnage in Jammu and Kashmir. I could immediately see that the worst hit areas are directly in the path of our intended route. The flooding has created some huge landslides and caused many bridges to collapse. We are keeping a very close eye on the developing emergency and have begun to put alternative plans in place. Lally has tentatively booked hotels enabling us to bypass the flood stricken regions but still let us reach Ladakh and the high passes of Tanglang and Khardung.
As soon as all crews had arrived in Mumbai we got everyone out of bed early to be transferred to the port for collection of vehicles. Only one vehicle managed to misbehave; Jim Carr’s lovely G4 Range Rover Sport decided to have suspension maladies and seeing that it is computer-controlled air suspension there appeared very little we could practically do here. However Tim, our capable mechanic, spent time bypassing some of the controlling accessories, testing various circuits, and managed to persuade the beast to respond.
Just when we thought everything was finally in place, flooding in the northern sections coped with, all vehicles running, and the welcome dinner to enjoy… news arrives of more flooding but, this time just 500 kilometres’ north inundating the city where we have our first overnight! With rivers bursting banks and dams on breaking point the authorities had no choice but to open spillways thus pouring more water onto an already sodden estuary.