Feb 12, 2009
The enterprising and adventurous streak of Mangaloreans (in all fields) is well-known the world over. Taking a cue from our elders who were intrepid and valiant, the younger generation is out to prove this adventurous streak in them to the outside world. The recent venture of 3 youngsters of Mangalore who went on a 10 day adventure driving on the Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) covering more than 7000 kms on 4 wheels certainly merits appreciation. Probably they are one of the few and certainly the first ones from Mangalore to embark on this grueling but worth a try voyage which was full of excitement.
Dr Govindraj Bhat, Dominic Pinto and Nikil Sameer were the three guys who went on this adventurous expedition on 24th January. Despite the exhausting tour these guys who are in their early 20’s were still bubbling with enthusiasm as they went on explaining about their unique achievement. Dr Govindraj says “it was Nikhil who came up with this brilliant idea and we both accepted and we are happy we could do it”. He further adds “simply driving down the GQ does not make much sense and so we went on exploring different places of historic and religious importance en route. We have enriched our knowledge and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience”.
TO SEE IS TO BELIEVE
Golden Quadrilateral is the largest Express Highway Project in India launched by former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. It is the first phase of the National Highway Development Project which comprises 5846 kms of four/six lane express highways and form a kind of quadrilateral while connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkotta and Chennai and pass through 13 states. Mumbai-Pune express highway was the first road to be built as part of the GQ. Though the GQ is only 5846 kms, this adventurous lot went around visiting places covering 7000 kms.
The trio Govind, Domionic and Nikil are childhood friends and share a fascination for adventure which made them venture out on this tour. They started on their Hundai Accent car from Bangalore and proceeded to Pune, Surat, Udaipur, Jaipur, Delhim Mathura, Kanpur, Allahabad, Kolkotta, Bubaneshwar, Vishakapatttnam, Hyderabad etc. Dominic, who is yet to come out of the exhilarating experience, is quite sincere when he says “we could not believe such roads existed in India until we traversed through them. These roads, especially the express highways are simply superb. One can see nothing but straight roads running into infinity up to 50 kms”.
The trio covered on an average about 700 kms and encountered some memorable some pleasant and some not so pleasant experiences during their adventurous journey. In the process they have collected 67 toll tickets which they have put it in an album “to preserve it for posterity”, says Govindraj Bhat. The fact that the trio was traveling to the north for the first time made it more exciting. “It was physically tiring because we were seeing places. One of us used to sleep when two others were awake. Though we wanted to avoid night traveling we had to drive in the night as we had only ten days”, points out Nikhil.
Tasting the different cuisine and seeing the Taj was the highlight of their tour. A staunch foodie who loves to savor the multitude of Indian cuisine Govind Raj says his mouth waters thinking those yummy sweets and snacks, especially Rajasthani Dal Baati, Churma, Kachori, Ras Malai of Varanasi. “The butter milk in Varanasi which comes in those earthen pots is so thick and tasty one can make two more glasses from whatever is stuck around the pot after drinking the buttermilk”, Govind Raj recalls. Along with Govind Raj both Dominic and Nikhil relied on hot vegetarian food to avoid any complications.
Contrary to the general belief of long journey to be boring and lethargic the trio had some of the hilarious moments traveling through the highways reading the one liners behind the passing trucks. When most trucks carried the slogan ‘milk – not for sale’ one ingenious/ignorant one added “sweety” before milk. Slogans like “be Indian, by Indian” “Waith for your saide” (wait for your side), “Horan ok Plaise”, “2 Dil 1 7 “(do dil ek saath) “fallow traffic Roulls” “Po Po Horn” (for horn please), “will will find way” etc., provided the right tonic to keep their moods high and alert. “Most trucks in the north used have the slogan “buree nazarwale tera muhn kaala” and hang an old used chappal beside that probably to ward of evil eyes” says Dominic, who particularly remembers most of the slogans by heart.
They took the help of a traveling guide which came in handy without wasting their time. The guides make it mandatory for the travelers to visit the handloom markets and the three youngsters ended up buying lot of sarees for their mothers and sisters (they are still bachelors). ‘We did not know much about sarees but the guide and shopkeepers explained us so much we were compelled to buy” Dominic explains.
POLICE TURNED PREDATORS
The flipside of the tour is the harassment the youngsters faced from traffic policemen especially those from Uttar Pradesh. “It was just looting without any hesitation in flimsy pretexts”, contends Nikil. For example in Allahabad their car was stopped for violating seat belt rules and the cops demanded Rs. 3800/- but in the bargain settled for less. One more police in plain clothes just stoped their car got into their vehicle and asked them money or just go to the police station. He demanded Rs. 3000/- but the youngsters could only pool in Rs. 450/- which was handed over to them. “These police in the north are so huge and hefty one would easily get scared talking or looking at them. They are very unsympathetic and harsh and would not lose an opportunity to loot tourists. We did not want to get into trouble by going to police stations because we knew the other police would support their own ilk. So we had to pay”, explains Govind Raj.
In Orissa a RTO even demanded they pay state tax and gave them a challan, which is against rule. State tax has to be paid only of the vehicle halts in the state for more than a month. They bargained and finally ended up paying Rs. 800/-. The best advice they give for anyone planning to go on long tours is to avoid taking hard cash with them. The trio was saved from being looted royally but for their dependence on plastic cards.
The other memorable experience was walk-in-bargain skill they put to good use at hotels. They walked in to some of the luxury hotels and found to their surprise they could bargain and settle for much less than what is mentioned in the tariff. In one of the hotels they bargained and settled for Rs. 800/- from Rs. 3000/- quoted initially.
LINK THROUGH daijiworld.com
The group relied on Geo Positioning System (GPS) available in some high end mobiles only. They just fed the required information and it went on giving proper directions through voice activated system. The lap top and internet system kept them connected with happenings back home. “It was daijiworld.com which kept us informed about the events back home. We came to know about the pub attack though daiji”, points out Nikil. Every day the trio updated their blog and sent pictures to keep their friends informed about their escapades. As a grand finale to the adventurous trip they are now busy writing the travelogue about their experience on “GQ on 4 wheels”.
The youngsters say they relive this experience everyday and whenever opportunity crops us would go on a longer tour covering parts of north and north east. Something for posterity can we say!
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