Our Travelogue

30,000 kms+. Mumbai – Goa / Pune / Mahabaleshwar – umpteen times 10,000 kms. Mumbai – Kerala – Mumbai – three times 2,000 kms. Chandigarh – Manali – Leh – Kargil/Drass – Srinagar – Once 4,500 kms. Mumbai – Bangalore – Pondicherry – Kerala – Mangalore – Goa – Mumbai – Once 2,000 kms. Las Vegas – Grand Canyon – Los Angeles – San Francisco – Once 4,000 kms. New Jersey – Florida – New Jersey - Once Essentially 50,000 kms and counting. Some of our most memorable trips .... so far Bombay - Kerala Our first real long road trip was the most memorable one when myself, Sandhya and my then 3-year old daughter Pooja decided to drive down to Kerala. We were in our Maruti 800 (old model) which ran beautifully with nary a problem. Our first halt was obviously Goa and then Mangalore. On the way to Goa I was childishly racing against a Merc! It was a sight to see when we regularly used to overtake them on the bad stretches and curves (they had more to lose so drove quite carefully over the bad stretches) and they used to effortlessly glide past us on the good straight stretches. Enroute to Mangalore was some of the most scenic drive in India with the sea to your right and the backwaters to your left. Lovely beaches and white sand all the way. Alas the new highway is miles away from the sea hence most of us will never see this. Further on I forget the exact route we took then but there was a new bypass they’d just finished. Being a toll road (then) most travelers avoided this route. Complete ghat section with a number of hairpin curves through the mountains, immaculate roads and not a vehicle in sight. It was a wonderful experience throwing the tiny car around the bends. New Jersey – Florida During the Christmas holidays in 2002 when were based in the US we decided to visit Disney Land. We took our Nissan Xterra SUV and it was another beautiful drive. The distance was about 1,100 miles i.e. close to 1,700 kms – same as Mumbai – Kerala. We were able to cover the distance effortlessly in about 24 hours whereas the same trip in India generally takes us three days. A real pleasure to drive except that you have to learn to drive in a disciplined manner and sticking to your lanes. The US is a really blessed country and the route is so scenic. All the natural terrain is perfectly covered in grass and it really looks as if someone is meticulously maintaining their individual lawns! On the way back it was the 31st of Dec and somehow I wanted to be back home the same year . We made it back in flat 15 hours. Chandigarh – Leh - Srinagar This was the mother of all trips and possibly the only route I went without my wife. Four of us friends whom I’d christened MACs (Middle-aged crisised) on bikes – 2 karizmas and 2 bmws. We shipped the bikes to Chandigarh and rode to Manali, Sarchu, Leh, Kargil, Drass, Sonamarg, Pehelgham and Srinagar. The ride was amazing and an eye-opener. Enroute to Manali we were stuck in a landslide for a good 6 hours. For some reason I was comatose for most of the time but luckily my friends were able to revive me by evening. From Manali to Leh was the best part when you were totally beyond civilization – just the rough tracks, mountains and you. A totally different experience. The warning signs near Kargil “Beware the enemy is watching you”was a shot of reality. The stories we heard about Operation Vijay at the beautifully kept Drass War Memorial will haunt us for a life-time. We’ll always respect the army in spite of whatever we hear. Mumbai – Pondi – Kerala – Mumbai. Earlier this year the travel bug bit us again and myself and Sandhya decided to go on a long bike ride. The Bombay – Hubli highway (part of the golden quadrilateral) gave us a glimpse of things to be. We reached Devangere in the evening and Pondi the next day. Had our share of adventures when the bike malfunctioned quite a number of times – twice because the chain broke and twice because of punctures. I had to stay back to guard the bike and our belongings and poor Sandhya would sportingly hitch a ride to the nearest town to get help. She travelled on a Luna and also a tempo for the first time in her life. I’ve been travelling incessantly for the past couple of months and am just completing my application 15 minutes before the deadline in my office. Wish I’d more time to do a better job but I guess its all thanks to the hard work I can afford to play a bit. But I'm certainly looking forward to "Say goodbye to never-ending hours.... There are some good snaps and videos on my facebook and flickr accounts. Thanks for reading and hopefully I’ll be able blog some more in future. Now I better post this before it’s too late. Au revoir.