When Alex Anderson and Azza Mate, both Australian nationals, decided to travel to places earlier this year, they were sure of two things. Firstly, they knew that their trip would not be a conventional one, and secondly, it would be at least a few months long.
The duo, who quit their jobs to take the trip of a lifetime, decided to explore India and Nepal, in an auto rickshaw.
On Tuesday, a day before embarking on their journey, an exuberant Alex and Azza spoke about how they got the idea for the trip and spending the last couple of days in Chennai getting their ride ready.
"In January, we decided we wanted to go on a journey of sorts. We wanted it to be unique and different. Azza had taken part in the 'Rickshaw Run' challenge a few years ago and we wondered if we could buy our own auto," Alex said.
For Alex, it is his very first trip to India. "My father extensively travelled to India around 40 years ago. I've heard many wonderful stories about the country while growing up," he said.
A search on the internet led them to Chennai Garage, a local business from who they bought their vehicle after reaching Chennai last week.
The mechanic of the store also gave them a brief lesson on how to ride an auto.
"When we went to buy it, the mechanic accompanied us as we rode it around the block once. He explained a few things. And that was it. He then gave us the keys and said 'off you go'. And we then tried driving in Chennai's traffic at peak hour. It was very challenging but it made us one of best tuk tuk drivers in India," Azza said breaking into a laughter.
The men then decided to customise their ride. They zeroed in on the use of graffiti and wanted to be present when the rickshaw was getting a makeover.
Their search ended with T3K or The Third Kind, a graffiti crew in the city which is also part of 108 collective- a unique collective of creative artists bringing art into spaces.
"We wanted an Indian theme. But we also wanted something that we could relate to. Something that was partly us as well," Azza said.
The final theme that was given to the crew -- Akill & Dibs a.k.a Prasanth along with Shrey Flyin Munki Sawant -- was of "Dahlsim".
Dahlsim is a character from Street Fighter, a very popular video game from the 1990s. "Every boy our age back then played a bit of it," Azza said. "Dahlsim is an Indian character and one of his special moves is 'yoga flying'. He would spit fire at the opponent and we decided to go with that."
Meanwhile, the men have been enjoying their stay in Chennai. "We love it here. Chennai is great. The people here are beautiful. The food is great. We've only been here for four days and we have spent some of the best time of our lives here," Azza said.
The plan they have at present is a tentative one as they did not want to stick to an itinerary day after day. "We want to travel and explore places at our own leisure," they said.
So they will first explore places in South India including Kanyakumari and Kochi.
"One place I really want to go to is Hampi. I've heard wonderful things about the place," Azza said.
They will then head towards the West of the country to Goa and Rajasthan before moving north to Punjab and UP. Nepal will be the last leg of their tour.
"We are very excited. I can't wait. We are looking forward to getting on the open road and driving into the sunset and the unknown," the duo signed off.