Three Women, 23,800Km, 13 countries, 97 days, Driving From Delhi To London
You say long and difficult road journeys are tough to undertake by women-only teams? Changing tires, fixing the car require some support? Hold your breath as this women-only team went on a trans-national journey of 23,800 kilometers to prove this assumption wrong.
“Driving has been a passion. It is absolutely therapeutic for me to be behind the wheel. I have built my own vehicle almost 10 years ago. So, I had both the skill and the urge to drive in tough conditions,” says Nidhi Tiwari the sole driver on the three women team.
This trip that began in Delhi and ended in London was undertaken by two women along with Rashmi and Soumya. The broad goal was to make a bold statement about such journeys are possible, doable and enjoyable by women.
Nidhi speaks about the excitement of planning this trip. “Having driven all over India, across India many times, I have dreamt about driving abroad and trans-continental..the sheer scale was exciting. It was a dream and I am delighted that this has been realised,” she said.
The task was not easy to manage. They required sponsors to be able to finish a task of this size. But money was raised to accomplish their trip.
“When I was planning the route, a couple of things were a given for me. Visiting Central Asian countries was part of the dream,” she said.
They choose their routes based on the sites they wanted to visit along the way. To reach Central Asia from India is possible only through 2 routes – either through Pakistan or through China. “We chose China. Getting to China from India was possible in two ways – through Nepal or through Myanmar. But the earthquake made us pick Myanmar. Further from Central Asia, the entry to Europe was through Russia. But having driven that far, I am fascinated by the Northern Lights and so thought why not Finland. We then drove to Finland. From Finland, it was one straight route through the Baltic states, Eastern Europe and finally across the English channel to London,” she added enthusiastically.
The journey of Women Beyond Boundaries started in June and came a full circle in October, crossing India, Myanmar, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Finland, Czech Republic, Germany and the United Kingdom. The car which kept the friends company happened to be the first Indian vehicle to cross the Arctic Circle, they maintained.
Since London has a port, it was chosen to be able to ship the vehicle back.
Rashmi Koppar, who works with MS Ramaiah Hospital, recalled the remarkable voyage.
“The first thing we did while entering every country was to buy a local SIM card. However, we couldn’t book accommodations in advance as our schedule kept changing.” They trio drove close to 600km a day . “It was only in India and England that we spoke in English. In the other countries, we used sign language and Google translator,” added Dr Soumya Goyal, therapist at MS Ramaiah Hospital.
But the trip was not all rosy. They had a delay of 4 weeks in Myanmar because of the landslides and floods. “Nature was a challenge for us. We faced the wrath on the Indo-Myanmar border. Most bridges in Myanmar were washed away and so had to wait it out,” Nidhi said.
However, they encountered the curious case of corrupt policemen which drove home some lessons, too. “I realised that just like in our country, corruption is everywhere. Cops would stop us, find some reason or the other and take some money. It was pathetic but something you have to deal with while on a road trip, I guess,” she added.
Their message to other women
Their journey stands as a testament and an inspiration for women everywhere aching to do a trip like this. “If you love driving and are confident of working with the car then you should not let just the sheer scale and magnitude deter you. Long distance drives are beautiful, liberating and rejuvenating. They build confidence and provide affirmation in ways unimaginable. So, drive out and have a ball!” she finished.
image sources: Women Beyond Boundaries
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