The trip of a lifetime

The trip of a lifetime

Making memories

The trip of a lifetime

Bengaluru-based Kalpana Sharma who, along with six other women, has just returned from a trip to Leh finds it hard to put down in words her experience.

She says, “It’s hard for me to express what I feel about the trip. One has to live it to experience what I felt at the moment.” Kalpana’s excitement is shared by her fellow bikers — Reena Muthanna, Deepti Jacob, Shilpa N, Sindhu Iyer, Chaitra Pujar and Chaitanya Keloth — who say in one voice that it was an “exhilarating experience”. 

The trip was planned, designed and executed by these women with no sponsorship. The only thing that guided them through was support and encouragement from their families.

They also didn’t have a backup vehicle or a mechanic accompanying them. They covered three of the world’s highest motorable passes, Khardung La, Taglang La and  Chang La, five states, two union territories and the Taj Mahal in 21 days.

These women were bound by an immense amount of guts, determination and will power to venture into the unknown. After having set out to ride through one of the toughest terrains, they are proud that they completed the ride without a hitch.

About her experience, Kalpana says, “Ever since I bought my Thunderbird, I have dreamt of going to Leh. The planning began in January and with encouragement from our families, we set out on the trip. Apart from the picturesque surroundings, I went with a crazy bunch of adventurous, fun-loving women, who I adore to the core. We all had our share of falls but we laughed, got up, dusted ourselves and moved on.”

Reena, another biker, is yet to get over the trip and says that she is still thinking of how wonderful it was. “Being able to reach the highest motorable path in the worst road condition is indeed an achievement. Now my 18-year-old daughter is ready to start riding,” says Reena. She adds that she was never scared about the trip or ever wondered if she would be able to complete the ride. “I went with a positive mind,” she adds.

Sindhu Iyer, a software engineer with Volvo, states that she has stopped complaining about the pathetic state of Bengaluru roads after riding on the worst roads ever to Leh. “My husband is a biker and has been to Leh. He knew that the ride wasn’t going to be an easy one but he never tried to frighten me; however, he assured me that I could do it. My parents too were extremely supportive in spite of knowing the risks involved. I’ve returned rejuvenated,” she says.

Shilpa N, another rider, was left bedridden for a few weeks after an accident almost a year ago. She met with a bike accident when she was returning home after work. After two surgeries, she thought that she would never be able to ride again, but thanks to her supportive parents, Shilpa hit the road soon after recuperating. Now after the recent trip, she says that she has become a stronger person. “I couldn’t have made it so far without the support of my parents. It was a trip of a lifetime,” she says.  Deepti Jacob, who led the group, pitches in, “We had no male support and no backup vehicle but we still did it. We hope our ride will inspire other women to get out of their comfort zone and push the boundaries. If we can do it, I am sure a lot of other women can as well.”

The sight of snowcapped mountains is also fresh in the mind of Chaitra Pujar, another member of the group. Chaitra says the trip was special because she quit her job to go on the trip. “I didn’t get leave for 21 days, so I quit my job because I knew this opportunity wouldn’t come. I have no regrets because I’ve gathered memories to cherish for a lifetime,” she says.    

Chaitanya Keloth, the only student in the group, says that she had to choose between the trip and her admission to a new course. “I chose to go for the trip only after my admissions were done. I wanted to take both forward and now I have no regrets because the trip offered non-stop excitement and some memorable moments,” she says.