X Word-Record Adventurer to become a Kolkata
hand-pulled rickshaw wallah.
by far his most confronting, vulnerable and empathetic project yet.
Commencing 9th December 2019 multi-awarded Australian Adventurer Richard Bowles will mirror life alongside barefooted Rickshaw Wallah' in the West Bengal capital of Kolkata for a period of ten days. Hauling people and goods for 18 hours a day in the heat and the rain, he hopes to earn and live on $2.00 a day, precisely like the pullers themselves. Sleeping rough and eating kerbside, along with the physical, emotional, social and political challenges, he hopes to gain firsthand insight into those in extreme poverty and the lengths people will endure to live - Common ground for all of us in the survival of life.
“I believe that true empathy is to experience it for yourself, and even then you would be arrogant to believe you understand." - Richard Bowles
Bowles' past world-record-setting adventures have seen him run solo across the length of mountain ranges spanning nations, from 1,000 to 5,500km in length covering two marathons a day (85km). He's crossed crocodile-infested rivers and middle eastern war-zones, faced shotgun- wielding lunatics and volcano eruptions, he’s even been hospitalised from his extremist endeavours. But, it's going to take more than his steadfast determination and relentless resilience; to survive a week in grim living environments and dire work conditions. He’ll also confront horrifying health concerns and the political controversy in what has been outlawed and described as inhumane work.
A pulled rickshaw is human-powered, by which a runner draws a two-wheeled cart which seats two people. Almost all of the wallah’ originate from Bihar, one of India's poorest states. They come to Kolkata looking for work, leaving their families behind in the villages. It's a hard and lonely existence and one that is slowly dying out. The government of West Bengal state has described the jobs of the rickshaw pullers as 'barbaric', 'despicable' and 'inhuman'. There is no place in the world today, it says, for 'human horses'. But the pullers and the city's residents disagree.
"My biggest fears are the everyday things we take for granted, like personal safety and going to the bathroom." - Richard Bowles