From Vuvuzelas To Hooters: Jailbreak- The Winners’ Story
EXCLUSIVE: The Tab speaks to 2011 Jailbreak winners about Argentina and the long journey there.
Samir Javeri and Aneesha Nirmalan have no special talents: they can’t sing, they can’t dance, and they can’t do magic. But they did make it to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and win Jailbreak 2011.
READ the final results here.
Plans and pledges
John’s finalists Samir and Aneesha, armed only with a vuvuzela and parental threats not to leave the EU, racked up over £1000 in pledges before they set off.
‘We had some quite interesting pledges too’ explains Samir. Money was promised for photos of:
– anyone annoyed by their vuvuzela
– policemen in a foreign country
– any violations of Samir’s Islamic religion
Argentina was never the plan though. ‘Our aim was Eastern Europe, we wanted to be realistic,’ he admitted. ‘We said Turkey because technically it would count as Asia.’
“You need a hard hat to be here” – Getting Out of Cambridge
Parker’s Piece, Friday, 9am – the pair set about making a sign for hitch hiking. Luck struck early when the first car they saw gave them a lift to the station. But despite this early lead, they quickly ran into trouble.
‘We got told by RAG that if we got there early, people would be sympathetic… but they weren’t,’ said Aneesha. With the guard not letting them through the barrier, Samir went to the ticket office in vain, then returned to find Aneesha being removed by security for shouting for donations.
‘That knocked away the early hype we’d originally had,’ admits Aneesha, ‘but we were walking past an office block and just decided to go in, which turned out really well as they gave us about £80.’
Samir says that initial rejection did provide some positives. ‘I guess we realised that the best way is just to ask everyone you possibly can. We even went on a construction site, but had to leave when the manager shouted across to us: “You need a hard hat to be here!”’
Help from Hearthstone – London Luck
After making about £50-60 on the train, Samir and Aneesha hit the streets of London. ‘If you try and target people walking, they just duck their head and avoid you, so we targeted people stood smoking,’ Aneesha explains. ‘They pretty much paid us to leave.’ But, approaching a copper for a photo (a pledge promise), got them into legal trouble, asking for money without a permit.
Driven off the streets, they tried fundraising in Henry’s Bar in Liverpool Street. It was here that their Jailbreak experience really took off. Aneesha explains: ‘We were just about to leave when two new people turned up. One of them, Chris, asked about corporately sponsoring us. We were a bit confused and didn’t really think much more of it. It was only when he rang us back when we were fundraising in Liverpool Street and he said he could fly us to LA.’ By chance, Chris turned out to be a Cambridge alumnus, and chief exec of company Hearthstone Investments. Cue more fundraising (including £350 pledged on their Facebook group within a few hours).
On a train to Heathrow, Aneesha saw another text offering an even better location – Buenos Aires…Brazil? ‘We’re not great at geography, neither of us really knew where Buenos Aires was,’ laughs Samir.
Arriving in Buenos Aires early on Saturday morning, Samir admits that they even thought about staying in the airport just to be safe. ‘We were eventually convinced not to by our stewardess, who told us that she’d never been mugged in Buenos Aires, but she had in Slough!’ Good decision. The duo tried Argentinian steak, went to Hooters, took in some sites and even saw a commercial being filmed.
‘We think it was a commercial anyway,’ said Samir. ‘There were loads of runners and a really fat guy in just a flesh-covered thong, before all the runners ran after him. They seem to love naked people in Argentina, it’s a very erotic country!’
‘Definitely the first shower,’ laughs Samir.
Aneesha agrees: ‘We had packed warm clothes because the plan was Eastern Europe, and then we had to get rid of our deodorant for the flight, so we were absolutely sweltering in the heat.’
But aside from the heat, the trip’s lasting memory for both seems to be the generosity they received throughout their journey. They singled out the mother who gave them a lift to Cambridge station on Friday morning, José at EAT in London for the soup, and – most importantly – Chris at Hearthstone Investments.
‘Not only did he book our flights, but also the hotel,’ said Aneesha. ‘We’ve invited him to come to a John’s formal to say thanks!’
They are also grateful for all the support from friends and family, though ‘one friend who sponsored us 5p a mile didn’t appreciate his bill of £347’, grins Aneesha. Even if they let their friend off, the pair look set to raise almost £2,000 for RAG.
Both agree that Jailbreak was an unforgettable experience. But for now, its back to the reality of Cambridge: lectures, supervisions, and caramel macchiatos seemingly consisting of nothing but tepid milk.