When Farhan Akhtar’s Dil Chahta Hai was made in 2001, Indians were not only amazed but the film gave us some serious #friendshipgoals and #travelgoals. The film’s view on redefining friendship, masti and stressing on living every moment resonated with everyone, inspiring a spate of self-discovery trips among youngsters. Cut to Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara in 2011, the film re-enforced a similar ideology, becoming a cult travel and bonding film.
Interestingly though, both movies featured men as protagonists. It took a Queen in 2014 to somewhat break the mould with woman taking charge and going forth to explore the world. But that’s still no Monte Carlo. But why do we need cinematic inspiration when we have real-life heroes, right?
Meet these three women from Delhi who went on an all-girl journey, proving to old foggies that age is just a number.
How, you ask?
Neeru Gandhi (60), Monicka Chanana (52) and Pratibha Sabharwal (61) are all grandmothers who went on a 4,000km road-trip through Rajasthan and Gujarat covering 19 destinations, all by themselves in 25 days.
Yes, the three divas navigated through sand dunes, changed flat tyres, fought back-aches, took a holy dip, danced with Kaalbeliya dancers and, of course, shopped so much that the haul had to be sent by cargo!
Speaking to indianexpress.com, the women recall their good, bad and enriching experiences.
For Gandhi and Chanana this was their second endeavour together as the duo had previously gone on a similar journey in 2016 to Rameshwaram, travelling the same trails followed by Lord Rama in Ramayana. This time they travelled west and Sabharwal was their new companion. Travelling by a sponsored car, the brave women braved all and had a time of their life, but of course driving on Indian Highways for long hours is no joke, so overcoming all shortcoming the trio visited the lanes and bylanes of Jaipur, took a tour of Salavas a Bishnoi village near Jodhpur and even learned pottery and interacted with miniature painters. A look at their blog and Facebook page, it’s hard for anyone to resist following suit.
When they had a Dear Zindagi moment
While Gandhi did most of the planning with her years of expertise in planning annual summer vacations, the Retired Senior Research Officer from AIIMS ensured that nothing came in their way of having fun. “I had an idea about the expenditures. We decided to stay in budget hotels. Petrol, stay and food per day, therefore, costs us around Rs2,000 per person per day. So, in both the trips we end up spending Rs50-60,000 per person on basic expenses. Rest all is our personal expense like shopping etc,” said Gandhi, grandma to a five-year-old boy.
When the grannies went to the Amul factory
Chanana, the youngest in the team, who “rocks a few tattoos” and believes that “age is just a two-digit number and it’s never too late to follow your heart!” shares that it’s not always easy. She admits that sometimes it can be difficult, with driving for long stretches but the thrill is too much to miss. “It comes in parts. Especially when there’s a flat tyre and we don’t have anyone around us to fix it, as also when the road seems endless and the petrol light starts blinking…but these hassles and awkwardly tough situations on our travel — this is what distinguishes our journey from the rest of all.”
The grandmother of a seven-month baby boy said that their journey is also quite enlightening and is also about breaking taboos. “Driving through your own country lanes not defining yourself by the social taboos of being a woman and just flowing like a river from one part of the country to another. That’s the most enriching part, you are the river in the driver.”
When they became part of a baraat on the highway
A businesswoman who runs her own fashion boutique, Chanana said it was quite an experience sharing meals with truck drivers at a road-side dhaba at night, as they are the only fellow travellers. “It’s rejuvenating and detoxing in more than one way when we are on the roads learning about the differences of in the lives people living in different parts of India and yet finding similarities in almost all of them.”
Sabharwal, for whom it was the first adventure trip, shared how they got stuck on the sand dunes near Jaisalmer. The excited trio decided to ride over the sand and their vehicle got stuck. Though scared at first, with the help of locals and “by god’s grace” they were soon out of trouble. A retired bank manager and now a full-time granny to a three-year-old girl, she said, ” I would leave all the planning to Neeru and happily go where ever she takes me with her.”
So what if you’ve shopped too much than you can carry, simple — parcel it!
The trio is again planning a trip soon, and this time plans to head east to the seven sister states and Odisha.