My parents had a passion for motoring, and with limited means, they could only afford cars that had already lived their life a decade before my parents became their owners. But yet the love for road trips and the call of the open road meant that my childhood was filled with motoring holidays in cars that were coaxed to complete the journey with a lot of love and care.
Those journeys, often punctuated with hissing radiators, groaning clutches and creaky suspension were the start of a lifelong affair with the idea of putting your trust in a single car and doing a long road trip.
There is something very exciting in the anticipation of the same engine firing up every morning and running reassuringly through the day that fuels the romance of a road trip in which the final destination is thousands of miles beyond the horizon.
My childhood has been filled with stories of adventurers that put their trust in a single ship or a steed or a motorcycle and crossed continents. Such stories where the internal combustion engine is trusted companion and ally fuelled my wanderlust.
For me this journey with one car that took me across Eastern Europe, Russia, Siberia, Mongolia, China and Burma was more than just a long drive home, it was a sense of fulfillment of a desire that had been sparked by those Bombay to Gujarat or Rajasthan road trips in those decrepit old cars three decades ago.
The route I took home stretches back to hallowed antiquity when this was the only link between Europe and Asia. Along this route flowed ideas, inventions, social norms, languages, diseases, spices and gunpowder. But more than the excitement of treading alongside the footfalls of adventurers, armies and smugglers for me it was the thrill of driving this Maharashtra registered Audi Q7 all the way from Munich to Mumbai.
There have been many highlights of the trip which include fireworks over the Red Square, being served horsemeat steaks in Bashkortostan, being invited to down shot
over shot of vodka at a wedding in Siberia, being charged at by wild Bactrian camels in Mongolia, gasping at the row over row of terracotta warriors frozen for eternity in X’ian, China and driving past the splendid gilded pagodas in Myanmar.
But more than all that what remains etched in my mind are the pictures of my trusted car at the landmarks along the way like St Basil’s Cathedral in the Red Square in Moscow, in the midst of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia which was once the stomping ground of Chingiss Khaan, by the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal in India and finally by the Victoria Terminus in Bombay that marked the end of a journey that spanned 2 continents, 8 countries, 40 cities over 58 days across 20216km in a Maharashtra registered car.