India to Europe by car

Last Updated 22 June 2014, 13:44 IST

The marvels of a road trip is as diverse as the landscapes one passes by. The hitches on the way are well worth it.

Enticed by the highways, a team of three — Suresh Joseph, former general manager of Dubai Ports; film director Lal Jose and automobile journalist Baiju N Nair, are on the biggest adventure of their life.

They have set out on a road trip in a Ford Endeavour that would take them through 27 countries, covering 24,000 km, in 75 days. The journey, that began in Kochi, en route Bangalore, will end in London. The team is carrying messages about world peace — the universality of man, the brotherhood of mankind and road safety.

On their journey, the trio made a pit stop at Bangalore and Suresh unravelled their plans.
“The genesis of this idea happened some time back but it never really took off.

Later on, I was inspired by Tushar Agarwal, who travelled from Leh to Kanyakumari, and then made another trip from London to Leh. But this is the first time someone is travelling from India to Europe by road,” he adds.

The team knows that they are courting the unknown. Moreover, this was no smooth drive even before the trip began.

 “You need to get the permit for temporary import and export of the vehicle. This costs three-and-half times the price of the automobile. That is, for a car worth Rs 20 lakh, you have to pay Rs 70 lakh as deposit. Individual drivers will find it tough. And there are lot of uncertainties. Selling the concept to some countries was difficult,” he explains.

The Indian stretch of the trip included Kochi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Jhansi and Nagpur. The team is now all set to enter Nepal and cross over to Tibet.

“We will move to Europe through China. Some of the countries they will be travelling through are Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Estonia, Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, France, Ireland and the UK.

The trip will end on August 26,”  adds Suresh, a retired civil servant, and a Limca Book record holder for his 24,000 km drive across 28 Indian states and 17 railway headquarters.  .

The team is anticipating a surprise at every corner but hitting the road notwithstanding the road blocks — some expected and some unexpected.

“On reaching Bangalore, we could see people waiting on the highway to greet us. We also noticed the cops and two of them waved us down. Bangalore cops are known to flag down vehicles from other states. We were indignant.

We have not broken any rules. We had all the documentation and were not overspeeding. So we insisted on either meeting the commissioner or getting arrested. They finally let us go,” he says adding, “The challenges enrich the driving.”

For the 75 days of travelling, they have a detailed itinerary. “We will be driving in the first-half of the day and the second-half will be spent in seeing the places,” Suresh informs.

   “There are going to be more challenges,” he points out.  “The first one begins from
Tibet when we have to get used to driving on the other side. The second is dealing with multiple currencies. Moreover, in several places, the altitudes will be different.”

Nevertheless, the team is determined on driving the miles away. What’s interesting is that there is an MG Road and Gandhi square in all the countries they are visiting and the team would be travelling through them.

   The crew also plans to bring out a coffee table book which will document their experiences. At the moment though, the journey is their destination.

(Published 22 June 2014, 13:36 IST)

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