CRAZY TUK TUK RACE: Two Winnipeggers -- nurse Brianna Hamlin and account executive Jess Cone -- along with Toronto grad student Rich Long, are getting ready for the Rickshaw Run, a "tuk tuk" race running north to south in India. It starts New Year's Day 2013 -- Tuesday.
A "tuk tuk" is a three-person motorized rickshaw such as the crazy "taxis" in the movie Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The Canadians start their engines in Jaisalmer, near the Pakistani border, and race all the way to Cochin on the last bump of the southern tip of India. That's 3,500 kilometres in just 14 days -- any old way they can get the tuk tuk there.
Yours truly got in touch with the three amigos, who were heading off for an overnight camel safari in the desert before going to Jaisalmer for the race. Said Hamlin: "We are preparing to take on the Indian subcontinent in an auto-rickshaw -- a seven-horsepower, three-wheeled tin can on wheels -- in the name of charity."
Their team, Tuk Tuk Goose, along with other teams from all over the world, are raising money for Frank Water. "It's a small charity making a big impact for thousands of Indians who need community-run water sanitation systems."
Their rickshaw is called Tuk Tuk Goose because of the goose decoration that was painted on it before they arrived -- they were asked to send in their designs ahead of time.
Competitors can try to fix their tuk tuk repeatedly or give up at some point and legally cheat -- towing or shipping it on a truck or train to the finish line. And get this: There is no designated route -- you get there how you can, baby.
The race attracts a lot of wacky travellers from the United Kingdom, and the parties at night camps are rumoured to be wonderful fun. All the participants pay 1,000 British pounds per tuk tuk to be in the race, but the Canadians went wild, raising over 6,000. Adds Hamlin: "Going into this adventure, we are feeling excitement, and without a doubt, a little trepidation! Taking on Indian roads is a daunting task in itself."
Interested? Check out this website http://www.theadventurists.com/the-adventures/rickshaw-run .
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WATCH OUT, JUSTIN TRUDEAU: While the rest of us celebrate the holidays, 75 politically minded students have been playing politics at the legislative building in the Manitoba Youth Parliament. They have spent five arduous days of up to 12 hours debating (sometimes fighting over) the passing of six bills. Their nights are spent sleeping on the floor at Kelvin High School -- guys in the basement, girls on the first floor. Yours truly tracked down premier Bojan Pirnat at 9:45 p.m., who had just finished a nine-hour session on Boxing Day. "Giving up Christmas holidays when you're in high school doesn't seem appealing on the surface. But a lot of people say it is a life-changing experience, and when they say goodbye, they are hugging and crying."
Pirnat, 21, started this youth parliament game at 16 when he was a student at Kelvin and worked his way up through the executive. As premier for the last year, he estimates he's put in about 1,000 hours in 2012. He finally gets to strut his stuff.
The guy has charisma, an arresting voice, and he can talk. "It's been a roller-coaster ride in terms of learning how to manage people and to speak with authority and grasp everything that's going on and how it's supposed to work," he confesses.
So what do people think of Pirnat as premier, I ask? He blushes and tries to dodge the question. "OK, I've had positive feedback. People have said I'm a good leader and good at listening, mitigating problems without being too pushy."
Would the political studies major at the University of Winnipeg be thinking of going into politics? "I wouldn't rule it out. I'd consider it," he says.
Pirnat is the son of two Bosnian doctors -- Deni and Milena Pirnat -- who emigrated when he was a preschooler. He finishes his honours degree this year and is starting a master's in political studies.
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HAVING A GLBTTQ New Year's Eve? No one celebrates New Year's Eve with as much old-fashioned sparkle and excitement as the gay clubs in town. At Fame, 279 Garry St., it's a Bollywood theme with a real Bollywood folk-theatre performer, sword dancing and traditional Indian food (with a giveaway draw for a week in Hawaii, oddly enough).
"This gay club also welcomes straights," says general manager Melanie Mikietowich. "It's a great environment, non-threatening for couples who want to come out and have fun. They don't feel threatened and they love the music here." Tickets $15 at the door.
Over at Club 200, 190 Garry St., it's a Pretty in Pink party, with everything from costuming of performers to lighting and streamers and party guests in various shades of pink.
Gio's Club and Bar, 155 Smith St., welcomes everybody but is a clear favourite with the lesbian crowd. They're throwing an Electric Jungle New Year's Eve Party with black lights, coaching everyone to come out in white clothing so they will light up the night.
Got tips, events, sightings, unusual things going on? Call Maureen's tip line at 204-474-1116, emailMaureen.Scurfield@Winnipegfreepress.com or send mail to The Insider c/o The Winnipeg Free Press at 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, R2X 3B6