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Touring On A 1937 Rolls Royce

Rupert and Jan Grey were recently in Kathmandu as a part of their 35th wedding anniversary expedition ride from Mumbai to Dhaka in a classic 1937 Rolls Royce. The 1937 Rolls Royce is an updated version of the 20/25 with larger engine and more power. It has an inline 6 cylinder 4.5 litre engine. The car has so far clocked more than 300,000 miles. Rupert inherited this Rolls from his father, who bought the car to London from Bangladesh after the Second World War. He re-built the mechanicals from the scratch. We were lucky enough to catch up with this man on a mission. This expedition is a part of the 6 month break that he takes every 10 years from his work. Their 35th wedding anniversary also happened to coincide during the same period and it took them almost six months to plan for this expedition.

 

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Rupert is a prominent London based lawyer, photographer and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He represents many of the world leading photographic institutions and agencies. His photographs have been exhibited in the UK and Bangladesh as well as published in magazines like Vogue and the National Geographic Magazine. Currently, he is associated with Swan Turton, UK’s leading solicitor firm. While, Jan is a bereavement counsellor. They live in Sussex and have three daughters. The Grey family are popularly known for expeditions to remote parts of the world, including the Pamirs Mountain, the forests of Borneo, the rivers of Sumatra, the Canadian Rockies Mountain and the Arctic tundra region. Amazingly, every trip of theirs is a private expedition and they have been bearing the entire costs of the tour themselves.

 

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For this epic road trip, The Rolls was first shipped to Mumbai. It took them almost a week to get the car ready. Rupert recalls how he had to make almost 35 signatures to clear the car from the customs in India. Then they drove directly through the Gujarat plains to Udaipur and spent a week there. They were joined by Oliver, their grandson, who has been filming the trip for a documentary. They spent a whole month travelling around Rajasthan and were well received by the local Maharajas, who greatly value classic exotic cars. They had a brief time in Rajasthan where they had interesting conversations and dinners with the Maharajas regarding economics and problems about rural India. During their Rajasthan stay, the Rolls also encountered some problems in the ‘starter switch’ and ‘starter button’. This was fixed by Prabhu, a mechanic of vintage Rolls in Alsisar who spoke only one English word – Speed. He changed the spark plug and adjusted the carburettor. Rupert also recalled the generous carpenter and the blacksmith who refitted the door lock with new timber and built a new bracket for the windscreen. After a month, they headed to Jaipur where they stayed for a week. They also had a safety back up car generously lent by friends during most part of the journey. Along the way, they held interactions with various people of big corporations and also had a memorable dinner with Bunker Roy, a prominent Indian social activist, educator and a famous TED speaker.

 

From Rajasthan, they headed towards Lucknow via Agra. In Lucknow, they stayed with an interesting Brahmin family for some days. From Lucknow, they headed towards Sunauli border point to enter Nepal. They entered Nepal from the Sunauli point. From Sunauli they headed to Kathmandu via Chitwan. Initially, they had planned to reach Guwahati via Bihar. But due to security reasons, they chose Nepal. Since, Rupert had last been to Kathmandu almost 30 years back, he felt amazingly awesome to be here again. The other purpose to visit Kathmandu was to meet his good friends here in the capital. According to Rupert, Nepal has changed a lot. He was surprised to see the urban settlement increasing at such an alarming rate. During their ride, people flocked towards their car, took photographs and questioned funnily regarding the mileage of the car. During their Nepal stay, they went on a week-long trek to Pokhara. The main purpose of the trek was to enjoy a short break and enjoy the panoramic Himalayas. They returned to Kathmandu from Pokhara and after a couple of days, they headed towards Kakarvitta via Daman. There was also a helicopter filming of their journey in and around Daman.

 

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From Nepal, they moved towards Darjeeling and Kalimpong where they plan to stay in their friend’s tea-plantation farm for a couple of days. From Kalimpong, they will head towards Guhawati. Their daughter will join them there for Christmas and will together ride to Dhaka (Bangladesh) via the Tameable border point. Their plan is to reach Dhaka to attend the International Festival of Photography in January 2013, where Rupert will deliver two lectures, one on their journey and the other on the law of copyright from an international perspective. From Dhaka they will drive back to Kolkata (India) and either drive or ship the Rolls to the Chennai port. From the Chennai port, the car will be shipped back to London, marking the end of this epic drive on a classic car.

 

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