As long as I remember I have always loved to travel. Inculcated by my dad from childhood, it has been one of the most important aspects of my life, my growth, my thoughts, my beliefs. I cannot fathom my life without traveling and taking out my car. I was blessed to find my love and husband Chao who also shared the same love and he loved roads much more than me. Sometimes I would say – let’s take a flight, and he would insist – let’s drive. We would end up driving 95% of the time and not once did we regret it. Such was the pleasure of these trips.
And then when Chao transitioned to the next world (I can never say died, because he lives within me every second), I stopped driving completely. For one year, I would sit at home, look out the window, meet friends but not drive at all. I felt I would bang into someone since my mind was always unsettled. One day my friend Anu from Pune invited me to go on a road trip to Panchgani with her friends and I just went on a whim. That day as my friend was driving down the beautiful ghats, I realised that I have missed driving all this while. Chao would have never wanted me to stop. He was the person who gave me confidence to drive on the highways in India and on the ghats. It takes time and practice and he would patiently guide me, teach me, correct me. He had been a truck driver and had ample of experience driving on the highways.
He told me to follow and remember some basic rules:
- Its always about the journey and never the destination
- Enjoy the journey. Stop wherever you want. Its not a race, a few minutes early or late doesn’t matter
- Avoid driving at night. Its easy to get disillusioned and better to stop and rest at night when you have been driving all day
- Stick to your lane always especially on turnings
- Always get your vehicle checked before a long drive
- Never drive if you are not rested and if you could fall asleep driving
- Never drink and drive
- Always keep your eye on the road (especially in India – cows and buffaloes can surprise you anytime)
Slowly I started taking our Dhanno – our beige Zen Estilo for drives late at night. I would drive to Worli Sea Face or Marine Drive, put on my favourite music, and just enjoy the drive. Chao will always be next to me. Listening to my blabber, about life, about my day and about my struggles and achievements.
So I will live our dream. Drive at every given opportunity and go for road trips to all the places we had wanted to go. His dreams are mine now and the conversations that I have with him are deeper. He tells me to fight, to stand up and face the adversities, to never feel alone, to always live life fully, to help someone if I can, to carve my own new path, to find my purpose and to make him proud. This is the purpose of my life.
The Road Trippers Club that I stumbled upon by chance has also been instrumental in helping me to come back to normal and start driving again. They’ve been so supportive, never saying no, always allowing me to carpool and even accepting my requests last minute. The people that I’ve met here, friends that I’ve made here – on these trips, the unknown destinations that I have discovered and the new ME that I’ve come across has been the most important factor in bringing back my confidence to drive again. As long as I live, I will be indebted to them for their love.
Going to take my Dhanno on the next trip and as soon as possible will buy a new car and go on a solo road trip for a month. Life goes on and Chao will always be with me in my Rearview Mirror!