8 lessons learnt on the 8 days -father-daughter road trip: The epic Dehradun – Dibrugarh drive

There will never be a good time to change your life to live the one you want or to take adventures you keep saving for later. I know for sure this one life is indelibly worth living.

“Let’s drive from here to Dibrugarh day after tomorrow” – Dad’s voice sounded more like a declaration than a suggestion.

The wintry evening in Dehradun and the peg of Scotch in his hand must have made him come up with this outlandish proposition – I thought.

Little did I know that this sixty-year old man was all set to school me in this adventurous and eventful 8-days long road trip.

Lesson #1 – Plan but don’t plan!!!?

The day before the journey, while I was frantically making a list on a notebook what items to be carried for a road trip and busy surfing the internet to check what precautions I should take to travel, Dad was snickering at me and busy talking to Ma over the phone.

“Just make a rough estimate of per day distance to be covered and places of night halt and some cash in hand. No need to book hotels. That’s it.”, he said after he saw me perplexed.

Gauging the basic road route, considering a realistic budget and most importantly, zeal for adventure are the things needed for a road trip. Because no matter how much you plan, you should expect things to go differently

Bags packed. Car condition conformed. Cash checked. Car papers sorted. First night halt decided.

With mixed feelings of apprehension and happiness, I called it a day

Day 1(23/01/2016): Dehradun – Roorkee – Muzaffarnagar – Noida – Agra (474 kms)

Expected driving time: 8 hrs

Actual driving time: 12 hrs

Lesson #2 – Sleep – the antidote to fatigued driving

 “Call up the hotel in Agra and reserve a room. We won’t be driving after dusk. Sleep is important.” – came the first instruction the next morning.

As he sat behind the wheels, Dad said “Driving is also work”

 He was right.

Be it Speeding on Yamuna expressway or handling traffic slugginess at Noida and Agra, we were active and alert all the time. The amount of concentration needed to focus on the road while speeding at 140 km/hr plus the amount of patience to withstand the annoying bikers overtaking from right as well as the left and even driving across busy highways equaled the same amount of stress received through physical work.

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Tea break at Muzaffarnagar
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Lunch in the car

Thanking God after completion of first leg, we retired to bed.

Day 2(24/01/2016): The mandatory Taj Mahal visit

Lesson #3 – Never miss a chance to soak in moments of happiness with your loved ones

Life never gives second chances. My father always takes this statement a bit more seriously.

For him, leaving Agra without visiting the famous Taj Mahal would be a crime. After having a sumptuous breakfast in a home-stay, we headed for the local ASI office to collect tickets. While I was busy inside the office, Dad let his inner child out. I came out of the office to see Dad sitting on a tonga with joy gleaming in his bright eyes. He did see me raising my eyebrows and that’s why he said, “I never sat on a tonga and I’m so old that I don’t know whether I would be able to enjoy a ride on a tonga in future or not.”

I did see a lot of drama queens, but a drama-king ? Well, it was my first time to see such an arrested development. But, I loved this child trapped in a time-warp.

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Of course, the Taj Mahal .bowled us with its stunner manifestation of architectural marvel.

 

 

 

P.S. Do take an ASI certified tour guide and you’ll be smitten as the guide unravels the story behind the marvel.

 

 

 

Being a hardcore non-vegetarian, I can’t live without my chicken. 😛 I literally spent the afternoon scrolling through Zomato searching for best place to eat non-veg. Pind Balluchi was my savior of the evening. 

Day 3(25/01/2016): Agra – Etawah – Auraiya – Kanpur Dehat – Lucknow (382 kms)

Expected driving time: 6.5 hrs

Actual driving time: 9.5 hrs

Lesson #4 – Never trust Google maps blindly

Just as most North Indians often stereotype North-East Indian people as ‘chinkis’ or ‘any-animal-eater’ or ‘uncivilised’, similarly I had this stereotype that the UPwalas are either rickshawalas or thugs and if a bit literate, then either IAS officers or politicians. So, when Google maps showed its ‘intelligence’ by searching for the ‘shortest route available’ and made us lose our way in a godforsaken wretched road, we were a bit nervous. To add to our anxiety, we saw two men on a bike heading towards us on that deserted road.

Imagine the situation where on one side there’s this 25 year old girl with her 60 year old father and on the other side two heavily built rustic-looking men on a desolate road.

Nevertheless, we asked for directions and they told us we were heading in wrong way. They volunteered to guide our way to highway. They convoyed us amidst the chaos of the market and gallis of Etawah. While we were following them, we also doubted them. We were even thinking that we would be charged money to get directions.

To our pleasant surprise, we caught sight of the highway. Those gentlemen even invited us to have lunch with them. Thanks to the wintry morning fog and the Google ‘mis’direction, we were already 2 hours behind and so, we, after refusing their offer politely and thanking them, hurried to the highway.

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We could soothe our eyes seeing vast stretches of yellow mustard fields of our way to Kanpur

Day 4(26/01/2016): Lucknow – Faizabad – Gorakhpur – Muzzaffarpur (520 kms)

Expected driving time: 8 hrs

Actual driving time: 12 hrs

Lesson #5 – Choose experience over technology (apps)

The appetite to eat chicken was driving me so crazy that I ignored what my father advised the day before. He had ‘advised’ me to –

1) Eat food in a place where you can see the kitchen. This way you’ll be sure that your food is freshly prepared. And that is why we had our lunch in a highway dhaba at Kanpur Dehat the day before. He found the restaurants, which were only a few, shady enough to explore for food.

2) Not to eat non-vegetarian food in places that you’ve been for the first time. It is strongly recommended to eat vegetarian during the journey time. And so, he even didn’t let me eat non-vegetarian in the City of Nawabs.

Undoubtedly, I was resentful the next morning and busy searching in one of my travel apps for best-rated restaurants in Gorakhpur (We estimated we would reach Gorakhpur by lunch time). I found one and I gave directions to Dad.

Damn my app! The place turned out to be cringe-worthy with the dirty washrooms and dirty kitchen making my stomach sick. Of course, I couldn’t muster the courage to eat the food.

But you see, there’s a proverb in Hindi “ओखली में सिर दिया तो मूसलों से क्या डरना” After dealing with the GPS and handling the chaotic mess of the town in late afternoon, we didn’t want to invest more time and energy exploring for another restaurant. So, Dad ate his roti as he had to take his medicines too.

There are times when we feel why we didn’t listen to our parents’ advices. This was that time. 😛

However, our hearts warmed up at the end of the day when we were greeted by extremely polite people of the rustic town of Muzaffarpur.

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While I was busy displaying my driving skills, Dad tried his photography skills.

Day 5(27/01/2016): The car check-up

Lesson #6 – When in Rome, do as the Romans do. (More appropriately, when in Bihar, drive as the Biharis do.)

After traversing half the distance, we thought that the car should be thoroughly checked up.

While I was driving from the hotel to the car workshop, I was reminded of Dave Barry’s line in one of his books – “The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic backgrounds, is that, deep down inside, we all believe that we are above-average drivers.” Because I felt I was in the middle of a dirt race with no rules.

Enough said.

 

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My favourite pic of all… Clothes twining with Dad in our hotel room in Muzaffarpur

Day 6(28/01/2016): Muzzaffarpur – Darbhanga – Purnea – Siliguri  (493 kms)

Expected driving time: 8 hrs

Actual driving time: 9 hrs

Lesson #7 –Find beauty in small things

It’s titillating to forget things you’re habituated with for a while and amplify your experiences. Once you do, there is no better feeling than taking on unfamiliar territory and making it familiar. All it takes you to crank up and you’ll come home with endless stories.

Driving along the countryside makes us realize that life is so much large and creation is so much larger than what we can assimilate. It gives a new vision to our problems. It humbles us not because we are small, but rather that we can glimpse our part in a larger story, our importance in the purposes of the world.

 

 

 

 Day 7(29/01/2016): Siliguri – Jalpaiguri – Kokrajhar – Bongaigaon – Barpeta – Rangia – Guwahati   (489 kms)

Expected driving time: 8 hrs

Actual driving time: 12 hrs

Lesson #8 – Make patience your virtue

As I was nearing my destination, I got irritated even at the slightest rush of traffic.

Being a town girl, the fast paced lifestyle is inevitably engrained in me. Waiting for anything – food at a restaurant, lines for the restroom – drives me crazy. The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that it’s okay to wait. Though it seems that way, road trips aren’t at all luxurious like advertisements and glamorous Instagram accounts make it out to be.

 

 

 

Day 8(30/01/2016): Guwahati – Dibrugarh (434 kms)

Expected driving time: 8 hrs

Actual driving time: 8 hrs

Some wise person rightly said, “Best road trips can be those ruled by spontaneity: journeys undertaken with an open mind, a restless spirit, and an air of joyous possibility.”

 

 

The trip was finally over. Mixed feelings of happiness and melancholy engulfed me. These memories will always be recalled along with the crazy experiences that we had en-route.

 

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2 thoughts on “8 lessons learnt on the 8 days -father-daughter road trip: The epic Dehradun – Dibrugarh drive

  1. Beautiful as the canvas of the author can offer ……. Refreshing and very own fir anyone who have had this opportunity

    The journey ……. I recall a beautiful poem in one of the Badal Sarkar’s drama (I have an uncanny ability to forget names), so aptly sums up the journey as a part of “being” –

    तीथ्र नहीं है, है केवल यात्रा,
    इसी तीथ्रपथ पर है चलना,
    इष्ट यही, गन्तव्य यही है।

    Men have been on move, with purpose or belief, gaining that very essence engrained in life which opens up ONLY through the roughing gained on going through the very process alone.

    It gives, it filters, it prospers and it leaves tails of unbounded mystery. The best part just stays within for the AdVeNtUrEr inside live …….

    Not leaving without advising as a typical Indian from land of perpetual advisors, when travel, try leaving latest by 5 in morning, it gives great distances that can never be matched on any hour left on or after 7.

    Carry a route map, sounds old fashioned but is definitely great sustainer for travellers spirits.

    Melt with the surroundings and stop being an observer, you learn lot more, lot faster and messages that open up to a discerning soul.

    Always make a study of famous land marks ……. You missed on Itnad-ud-daulah which is only about two to three kilometres from Taj Mahal.

    Like

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