I was waiting for this trip anxiously as this was going to be my first time driving in my own car for 250-300kms after almost 2 years since my dearest Chao (my husband) passed away. I had completely stopped driving and on these various trips with The Road Trippers Club, I realised how much I had missed driving. Slept for only 4 hours and woke up before the alarm set off. Ready in 15 mins, I picked up Vishal Chaudhary and we set out for the Meetup Point at Lodha Boulevard in Thane.
Now I was taking the Honda Jazz out for the first time so had no clue about the car. Vishal asked me if I had filled up the tank and I told him that I was wondering whether the car was Petrol or Diesel and we burst out laughing. Vishal ordered that we are not taking any risks and once we meet the car experts and confirm, only then shall we fuel up. As soon as we reached, and we met the few people who had arrived, Vishal announced our dilemma. Everyone was humored by my ignorance and Neel Shah, who we had just met, was kind enough to accompany me and check and confirm that it was a petrol model. We were taking no chances though Vishal had checked the PUC. This wasnt the only joke, all through our journey we kept figuring out what is where. It was hilarious and since I was driving, I dumped the responsibility on Vishal who was sporty enough. We laughed so much and it assuaged my sorrow a bit, hadnt laughed so much for quite sometime. Was going to miss Chao so much since we had been on this road so many times, stopping at dhabas and having chai, which was his favourite.
Tanmay briefed the group and welcomed the new members – Badri sir with his wife Pushpa, Keshav, Vasudeo, Vishal Shah (there were two Vishals and a third one who dropped out) Neel, Waqas, Farah, Prasad, Naren, Apoorva and Ankita. 7 bikes including Naren on his sexy red Ducati and 8 cars – all set, we started our drive to the Breakfast point – Baba Da Dhaba on the Nasik road. Also accompanying us was Mr. Raju Shinde from Mumbai Mirror who kept clicking pictures all along in his Innova. Initially I saw cars around me and after a point, I guess everyone got bored and just left us behind. I was enjoying the drive so much, but missing out on taking shots of the scenic road and the green carpet all around. But I told myself that this time I shall just enjoy being behind the wheels as we kept chatting about our various road trips.
Reached the breakfast point and went to fill petrol and was trying to figure out from where to open the hatch. The petrol pump guy finally told us where it was and was sheepishly smiling away, it was so funny. Vishal bhi soch raha hoga kiske saath phans gaya. Breakfast of idlis, dosa, uttapam, misal and tasty huge batata wadas was satisfying. Vishal Shah, Vaibhav and Naren turned around from there and headed back for their work commitments while we commenced our drive up the scenic Kasara Ghat. A few kms into the ghat, there was a left that we took which took us towards Vihigaon, my favourite where the transition from city to country roads begins.
After driving a few kms, the convoy stopped on a bridge where we lined up our cars and Mr. Shinde got a few shots of the whole group. Then the drive through the country roads was soothing and a feast for the eyes. On the way, the cars had stopped since the bikers went off-road to a point which had a breathtaking view of the valley. For some time we kept wondering and then Ronit took his Hyundai XCent and drove down the offroad track, immediately followed by the BMW X5. We all walked down the gravel path to rake in the views. And with everyone gathered there, a candid shot was natural for Mr. Shinde. All this time absorbing the view, challenging ourselves, camaraderie is what makes every trip memorable. Vishal offered to drive for sometime while I captured a few shots with my Osmo.
Our next stop was the Nature Leap Resort where we stopped for lunch. A small, quiet resort with 12 rooms, a huge lawn, tennis court, swimming pool, a huge machan and a waterfall nearby, surely I would like to come back here for a few days. Another hidden gem just 2.5 hours away from Mumbai which you should surely visit. Please book in advance because it is fully booked during most weekends. Here we were joined by a family from Nasik – Mr. Vijay Tiwari in his ISuzu. Struck a connection with them instantly – so generous and kind and invited us all to his home in Nasik. After lunch I hurried to capture a few shots of the surroundings and the resort. And we got our group shot. The amazing Road Trippers.
About 5kms away was the Vaitarna Lake where we made a quick stop. So beautiful and scenic. There was this huge tree under which I would have liked to sit and spend hours. The magic and power of nature. All the mobiles and cameras came out and lots of shots were taken. Candid and selfies. Conversations galore and bonding like we all had known each other for years. That’s what I just love on these road trips. Mr. Badri (he’s 73 years old) and his wife are so well-traveled – they have done a road trip – Mumbai to London in 72 days in their BMW X5. So motivating and I just hope that I can achieve that some day. Gallivanting around the world for a year – that’s my goal. Sonika-Sandeep and their biking goals, Ankita who was riding on the bike first time for such a long trip and finally switched to our car, Waqas filming with his Go-pro and Farah – she was constantly clicking pics with their selfie-stick, Vasudeo with his Fuji camera and Keshav who says that he was happy to meet people from different backgrounds, Neel – fun loving and bored of following me slowly in his Honda City. Meeting all these wonderful people was mood-lifting and energizing for me.
Said our bye-byes to Badri sir and Pushpa ji and Vijay sir with his lovely daughter, and our convoy headed back towards the city. Me and Vishal were enjoying the songs of R D Burman and singing along, we almost missed the pit stop for Chai-sutta break. At one point the heater came on in the car and it was amusing trying to figure out how to shut it. All along experimenting with the Honda Jazz. From here, we bid our farewells and continued our journey home to encounter the crazy traffic once we hit Mumbai. A big thank you to Vishal Chaudhary for being my companion all through the trip. Not once did he leave my side.
All along guiding the way was Tanmay, our Captain who knew the roads perfectly well. His expertise, his standup act on the bikes, his friendship, knowledge of the scenic spots, he exactly knew what was required to make the whole drive so interesting. Not once did any of the vehicles lose their way and everything was just perfect! Thus another RTC Sprint came to an end and we all were taking back pleasant memories with us to savor. The new members learnt something about safety, biking, defining halts and what group drives entail while I decided that these drives are going to be a major part of my life going forward. Cheers to many more!