I am writing to request your thoughts, comments, blessings, cooperation and support in an extraordinary adventure that I plan to undertake…
…that of self-driving a distance of 20,000 kms from Mumbai to London, over 68 days through 16 countries and 100+ cities!
…that of chaperoning my 9-year old grand daughter along with my 63-year old wife through a long, once-in-a-lifetime journey covering off-beaten tracks, rugged mountains, deserts and sand dunes, dense forests and snow, high altitudes, heritage sites, highways and cities!
Before you say more about risk and raise concerns (and thank you for that!), please rest assured that this is not my first endeavour into adventure (my close family will attest to that!). I have been an adventure-thrill seeker through my life, especially after the age of 45
- At the age of 70, in 2015, I self-drove 8+ days through Iceland’s rough and risky terrains, with my wife and then 7-year old granddaughter. This included some glacier walking as well as snow mobil-ing.
- At 65, I organised a group of 90 pilgrims to Kailash-Mansarovar for a charitable purpose. It is a journey many dream to accomplish at least once in their lifetime. It is also considered extremely difficult and life threatening.
- In 2009, my wife and I were the first Indians to land at 90° North and float on a sheet of ice. There is nothing to it’s north and that spot on earth has no longitude, no time-zone. It was all to experience the place where the Sun and the Moon rise and set, only once a year! We were on the only nuclear powered vessel capable of navigating to this place.
- We also challenged ourselves to participate in the ritualistic “polar plunge”. Not stating the obvious, but this act is considered (silly and) fatal if one stays in for more than a few seconds.
- In 2008, at 63, Mr. Peter Hillary, Edmund Hillary’s son personally inspired me to take the Mt. Everest Base Camp trek, considered demanding and deathly. I trekked with only one sherpa for company (i.e. it was not an organized group tour).
- In 2005-06, my wife and I also travelled and trekked through all of South America (including staying in the dense Amazon forests) and set foot on Antarctica, where the most common inhabitants are penguins and the temperature of -30°
- In 2004, my wife and I climbed to an altitude of over 19,000 feet to perform the Mt. Kailash parikrama (at ages 60 and 51). This was without any guided help!
- 25+ years ago, in 1988, I drove my family from Mumbai to the top of Badrinath temple (now in Uttarakhand) in a Honda Civic. This was 5,500+ kms of heart-throbbingly bad roads – especially for a stick shift, sedan! (If you are aware of the Indian road conditions today, just imagine what they were almost all those years ago!)
- A little before that, in 1987, my wife and I drove from Oslo through the broken roads of Nordkap to experience Norway’s Midnight Sun.
This is a glimpse of the many thrilling, exciting and hair-raising adventures I have been lucky to be a part of, but I would refrain myself from getting nostalgic here! After all, over the years I have travelled to 55+ countries whilst my wife has visited 43.
Academically, I am a qualified Chartered Accountant as well as a Cost Accountant. However, I have been a first generation entrepreneur for most of my life. In 1986, I quit my (then) 18-year old professional career in the Middle East to come back to India and start on my own.
My learnings in life – personal and professional as well as my travel experiences and expeditions are (slowly, but steadily) being documented on my blog (please write to me if you want to get updates on e-mail).
In fact, I plan to capture my upcoming “driving expedition” on a day-to-day basis, perhaps even on a real time basis (using a GoPro camera). Our expedition will cut across India, West to East, crossing about 10 states including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. Once we cross India, we will pass through Bhutan, Myanmar, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, and finally the UK. It will be the rarest of rare travels – not to mention the various challenges we will face driving through such varied landscape. This event is expected to create a record in Limca Book of Records and possibly be a Guinness World Record too (I am in conversation with them on this front.)
However, more importantly, this road adventure is personally very dear to me because I intend to spread a personal message that “age is no bar if your mind is determined and your body taken care of”; That, if one keeps themselves fit, age cannot hold you from extra-ordinary feats – be it a child of 9 years, a grandmother at 63 or a grandfather at 72.
Over the past few years, I have seen and read about kids and adults living their life more as an obligation, coupled with neglect of their health. People have almost forgotten to “live” their life…not realising that in the end, it is not the years in your life that matter, but the life in the years!
It goes without saying that such an adventure involves a lot of planning and budgeting, and as such, we are looking for “like-minded” individuals or organisations who believe in our belief and are keen to participate and partner with us; or if you know someone who would be interested. If you are, please do write to me at the below details and I would be happy to sit down and share additional details. Your assistance and cooperation will help create awareness as well as generate interest, curiosity and perhaps inspire others!
I am hoping that with your support we will be able to spread the message to an even wider audience! The flag off is currently scheduled from Mumbai at 1000 hours on 24 March 2017, when we embark on this journey, hopefully able to create an extra-ordinary story and memory! You are most welcome to come and join the celebration and wish me luck!!
Cell: +91 987 000 1177
I must congratulate you for this extraordinary vision about life and the way you are exploring it. I must share that you have really inspired me to do the same and very soon I will share my expedition details with you. I wish you all the best and may god be with you through your journey.
Thanks Pratima for your kind words. I think you have put in your comments for the first time on my blogs.
I suggest you please keep sharing your views. These few words inspire people to relook their approach.
secondly, if you register/subscribe yourself on http://www.smritiweb.com/badri/ you would be kept updated on my forthcoming “Road to London”
I’ve been reading your blog for more than two years. I don’t have words to express how you’ve inspired me to go beyond my comfort zone and try new things. Thanks a lot for all that.
Wish you and your family all the very best on this new adventure!
Sounds really exciting..
Wish u all the best and hoping you all have a fantastic time….
All d very Best for dis extraordinary dream of 20k kms..
Wid good health..
Fantastic! Will look forward to your updates
Wishing you all the best and happy journey.
Thank you Mr Unmesh
Dear Sir – truly admire your grit and sense of adventure. So many of us let life pass by – you and your wife have grabbed it by its horns and made it come around you. Wishing you all the best along your journey and would love to follow your updates. Many Regards.