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Mansi Khandelwal

IWB Blogger

Nani-Friends Break The Speed Limit At 60 With Their 4000 Km Road Trip

  • IWB Post
  •  December 16, 2017

 

Age is just a number. What life do you dream of when you reach your 60’s?

While you are thinking what should go into your bucket list, hers is mine. I would love to travel the world with family and friends and sometimes alone, eat good food, wear good clothes and wish that life surprises me every day.

And these four nanis chose thrill and adventure to be their best friend at 60s. Neeru Gandhi (60), Monica Chanana (51), Sarita Manocha (62), and Pratibha Sabharwal (61) drove a distance of 4400kms from Delhi to Rameshwaram last year, all by themselves.

They repeated their driving stint and hit the highway again in February when they zoomed across Rajasthan and Gujarat and covered 4000 km.

Bit by their travel bug, Indian Women Blog spoke to Neeru Gandhi, and trust us, a road trip is all we have on our mind after our exciting conversation!

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IWB: How did your friendship begin and what were the milestones on the way?

Neeru Gandhi: Last year I went on a road trip from Delhi to Rameshwaram with my elder sister Sarita Manocha and Monika Chanana. Monika and I have known each other for the last 20 years because we live in the same colony over a decade. We are glad that we made this trip happen, especially for Monika. Her son passed away in 2010 in a road accident. Since then she has been disheartened and even stopped driving. This trip helped her regain confidence.

IWB: Which one of you is used to bargaining in hotels? Who handles maps and directions and who is the planner?

Neeru Gandhi: For the last trip, I managed the itinerary whereas Monika took care of the hotel bookings. Since Sarita wasn’t with us on this trip, Pratibha managed the finances.

We were mostly well-planned way ahead of our day. We had a mobile kitchen in our car. We arranged a kettle and an ice box too.

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IWB: What was the craziest shopping experience you had on the trip?

Neeru Gandhi: During our first trip we reached and stayed in Dwarka on the eve of Holi. It was a beautiful experience. We played Holi in the temples until evening. At around 9 pm in the night, we thought of strolling around the market. We came across a shop that had put a saree on display similar to the one we saw in Bikaner, though the price was much less. You wouldn’t believe, we had been shopping for over two hours. We got our billing done at 11:29 pm!

It was one heaven of a shopping day!

IWB: Did you guys plan driving shifts in advance?

Neeru Gandhi: Haha! So it wasn’t as we planned in advance, but Monica drove for one day and me – for the other. Pratibha was our emergency friend. She wasn’t very confident about driving on the highways, so we both took charge.

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We never faced any problem while driving. We used to drive for approximately six hours at a stretch, without even stopping for using the loo.

IWB: How did your family participate in the preparations for your trip?

Neeru Gandhi: Last year, my son and I were returning from Haridwar. While coming back, I shared with him my wish to go on a road trip with my friends to Rameshwaram. When I returned, my children were quite convinced. My daughter sat with me and chalked out the road maps of all the cities I wished to drive through. We researched highway routes and explored accommodations in all the stop-over cities. My son, on the other hand, gave me a list of police posts, hospitals and service stations in places where we had to stop.

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IWB: One fear you conquered during the trip?

Neeru Gandhi: The only fear I had was to proficiently drive on the hills. Once on our way, I drove from the plains to the mountains while going to Mt. Abu. My family back home was scared about this aspect of the trip. That day when I easily drove up the hill, I was the happiest. I can say now that I have overcome my biggest fear.

IWB: What were few of the new things you learned on the trip?

Neeru Gandhi: There were several things that we learned in these two trips. The major was becoming tech-friendly! We learned how to take perfect selfies, use a tripod and other gadgets. We also learned how to use the GPS properly. In fact, whichever city we stopped at, we always used local transports to avoid unnecessary direction hassles. For which we downloaded cab apps and learned how to use Ola and Uber.

IWB: Suggest a few suitcase packing tips for a long road trip.

Neeru Gandhi: I would like to share those hacks that worked for us. We did not carry very heavy luggage. We did not wear any jewelry or carry some. We had maximum eight to ten pairs of clothes in our suitcase. Instead of making our bags heavy, we kept a bucket in the car that had our washing detergents and other toiletries. And we also kept an iron. This saved individual luggage.

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IWB: Describe the other two of your travel partners as roommates.

Neeru Gandhi: Monica loved to dress up the most amongst the three of us. So while she was choosing which accessory went best with her clothes, we were busy doing our cleaning and ironing.

IWB: Any budget tips for road trip travelers?

Neeru Gandhi: We stayed in average hotels that had a clean washroom and comfortable beds so that we could get a good sleep since we used to hit the road early in the morning. Calculating the entire day expenses, we did not spend more than Rs2000 per day.

IWB: There’s a stereotype that women are not good with directions and driving. Did you face the same school of thought on the road?

Neeru Gandhi: What I personally feel is that women are safe drivers because of which they are called weak drivers. We too had such experiences. It generally happened when tempo and truck drivers saw women driving; they would honk their heart out! Moreover, if by any chance we overtook them, their ego was hurt, and they would cross our car like crazy drivers.

IWB: What were the five essential things in your bag as a traveler?

Neeru Gandhi: First aid box, plenty of water, enough food to snack upon, extra petrol, and a happy feel and exciting ambiance. Ek gaadi jisme koi sust na ho. Jaise hi aisa hota tha waise hi hum ya toh antakshari khelte the ya Akbar Birbal ki stories padhte the.

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IWB: If you were supposed to trade an item from your suitcase for fuel, what would it be?

Neeru Gandhi: Haha! I would give all the food that we had stored because we had a lot to offer! So I’d give them cakes, Lassi, Amul milk, etc.

IWB: What was the most inspiring meeting with a stranger that you’ve had on the trip?

Neeru Gandhi: One day while we were driving from Ajmer to Pushkar, we got delayed, and we reached Pushkar late in the evening. Since it was a confusing way, we lost the route. While we enquired for directions, we saw a boy coming towards us. He was on his bike. When we asked him the way to Pushkar, he guided us. Soon we lost the way again. He stopped and parked his bike and walked in front of our car until we reached a temple in Pushkar. He even helped us park our car. We were so glad to meet him.

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IWB: Are you planning to turn this passion into a profession?

Neeru Gandhi: Well no! Though after these two trips, we have been receiving several queries from older people to join us. We love to help and guide them.

IWB: One thing you did on the trip that generally youngsters would?

Neeru Gandhi: As a kid, my father used to always tell me how scary and uncomfortable it is to sit on a camel. When we reached Sang, we took a camel ride, and all those childhood conversations and memories flashed back in my mind. The three of us felt like we were college friends and not nanis!

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IWB: What fun did your husband have while you were away?

Neeru Gandhi: Lol! Not that I asked, or he shared, but now I think I should enquire.

IWB: Which book was your travel partner?

Neeru Gandhi: An Atlas and Akbar Birbal book were my travel partners.

IWB: Apart from traveling, what are the three other things that your age will not stop you from doing?

Neeru Gandhi: My NoAgeBar bucket list includes:

Horse riding, swimming, and a trip with my daughter and her son (which will be three generations traveling together)!

This article was first published in June 2017.

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