Forty-two foreign Rotarians from 16 countries went on a 11-day motor rally from Mahabalipuram, a Pallava-era beach town near Chennai, to Mangaluru in Karnataka via Ootacamund in the Nilgiris on the western ghats. They got to know Indian Rotary clubs better as they hosted them enroute, and had a good exposure to Indian heritage, culture, while savouring its traditional cuisine and hospitality.
Ride for Rotary is a not just a prestigious fundraiser for TRF organised by RID 3181, “but a rally that celebrates Rotary fellowship by connecting foreign Rotarians with Indian clubs which welcome them and extend a pleasant stay during brief stopovers,” says Kamlesh Kataria, president, RC Ootacamund, RID 3203. At the fellowship meet in Ootacamund, five rallyists spoke about the myriad activities of their clubs, while another one recalled “their visual delight riding through scenic places that gave them so much joy,” he says.
Kataria briefed the foreign delegates about the service projects of his 51-year-old club, the first in Nilgiris, which was followed by the exchange of club flags, an entertainment show, and dinner. “It was an elite ceremony, where the visitors enjoyed the fellowship and interaction with 20 Rotarians — 10 each from our club and RID 3181. While promoting TRF is the main goal, the platform enabled the foreigners to connect with us in such a significant manner,” he says.
Flagged off by DGs J K N Palani, RID 3231, and Prakash Karanth, RID 3181, at Mahabs, the motorists where given a warm send off by members of RC Eagle Town Thirukkazhukundram on Jan 15. “Over the next 10 days, they were hosted by clubs at Puducherry, Thanjavur, Madurai, Tirupur, Coimbatore, Ooty Mysuru and Madikeri, before reaching the destination, Mangaluru on Jan 25,” explains R Muthukumaran, vice-chairman, Ride for Rotary, and charter president, RC Ivory City Mysuru. A distance of 1,380km from the east coast to the west coast of India across well-chosen heritage sites and towns in Tamil Nadu would have given the foreign Rotarians a “good peek into the Indian way of life, our culture, food and historical richness,” he says.
In Thanjavur, PDG C Gunasekaran welcomed them, and the visitors were taken on a guided tour of the Brihadeeswarar temple, a grand edifice built by King Rajendra Chola and a UNESCO heritage site. “Around 20 clubs in Madurai jointly staged a reception where traditional arts including folk music and dance were performed. The foreigners were simply overawed by the art spectacle,” says Muthukumaran.
Save Soil, Save Water
Every year the rally theme changes, and for this seventh edition, RID 3181 has taken up a tagline, Save Soil, Save Water, as part of its efforts to protect and conserve nature. “Depending on the states and its topography, our branding for the expedition will differ,” he says. For this edition, a special panel was formed and led by Krishna Narayana Muliya from RC Puttur East.
All 42 participants from the US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Australia, England, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Poland, Denmark, Austria, Norway and Romania have to pay ₹2.5 lakh each as rally fee, a part of which will be used for the travel and stay expenses; the balance will be donated to TRF. “It is a sort of mini RI convention as foreigners raise a toast to Indian clubs after coming to know about our diverse work in our communities. We donate a sizeable amount from the proceeds, to TRF each year,” says Muliya.
A participant for the third time, Torbjorn Vik from RC Heimdal, RID 2275, Norway, says, “I really enjoyed the hospitality extended by the Rotary clubs along the way and was moved by their impactful service activities.”
Raj Patoli from RC Wettingen, RID 1980, Switzerland, says, “I have brought three members from my club to this unique rally which I am attending for the third time. Good homework by the organisers to ensure a zero-error motor rally.” The foreigners were honoured at the valedictory event presided over by DG Karanth in Mangaluru.