Three fun and feisty grandmothers are hitting the road to chase their dreams full throttle.
Some people are old at 18 and some young at 90. Proving this adage absolutely right, three feisty grannies — Neeru Gandhi (60), Monicka Chanana (51) and Neeru’s best friend of 45 years, Pratibha Sabharwal (60) — went behind the wheels to cover a distance of 4,000 kilometres from Delhi to Gujarat and back in a span of 25 days. And they are ready for lots more road adventures.
The wanderers drive a Suzuki Ertiga. “The car is spacious enough and we store a lot of goodies inside. We even have a mini mobile kitchen with an ice-box in which we stack ready-to-eat upmas, chaat items, milk, water, fruits, etc,” says Neeru.
A little extra care went into ensuring their health was in perfect condition. “Oh, we were very careful about what we ate. We ate only one meal outside every day. Rest, we used to cook. We carried a lot of dry fruits, especially almonds. We would soak it overnight and have it in the morning. We also had a lot of fruits throughout our journey to keep ourselves energised,” she adds.
And besides the scenery racing past their car windows, entertainment comprised books and songs. “I carry books on Akbar-Birbal to keep us entertained. We also play antakshari. And whenever one noticed that the other was feeling tired or low, we used to break into song — Yahoo! Chahe koi mujhe junglee kahe,” laughs Neeru, adding, “Besides that we prayed, chanted mantras and read lots of stories.”
This wasn’t their first adventure on the road. Fondly called ‘nanis on the highway’, back in March 2016, Neeru and Monicka along with the Neeru’s sister Sarita Manocha (62) ventured out on a road trip from Delhi to Rameshwaram by road via five states — Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The 4,440-kilometre journey took them 29 days with 23 stopovers. Well equipped with detailed information about the best routes, hospital numbers, important helplines, stopovers, eateries, and must-visit destinations, these ladies hit the road without any inhibitions related to old-age.
Neeru informs that their first trip came with its set of challenges — flat tyres, dealing with cops, rash truck drivers, and their car breaking down. However, these women tackled all the obstacles together. They even learnt how to handle and operate gadgets like digital cameras, selfie sticks, tripods and dongles. Their stories are full of interesting experiences and struggles from the trip.
Despite being in the senior bracket, these women prepared themselves for the unknown. “The idea of going on a road trip had germinated in my mind a long while back when I went to Haridwar once with my son by road and really enjoyed the journey. But I was bound by responsibilities of different sorts, and never really was able to make my dream come true. I even spoke to my daughter about going on a road trip again. And finally, one fine day, everything fell in place. It was meant to be, I guess,” Neeru gushes. “I called up several friends but unfortunately a lot them didn’t know driving. Then I called up Monicka, whom I have known for the last 20 years, she was my neighbour. And she said yes to the idea without a blink of an eyelid. I was overjoyed. On our first trip, my sister accompanied us but sadly she couldn’t join us this time around due to health problems. So I called up my best friend, Pratiba. And she said, yes, too!”
The ladies were met with shock and surprise as they made their way across the length of the country. For instance, once a hotel front desk executive in Firozabad was shocked to learn there was no driver accompanying the women. “‘Driver park kar lega (Driver will park your car)’, the executive told us as we checked in. ‘Hum hi driver hain (we are the drivers)’, we exclaimed and he was flummoxed. Also, a few policemen stopped us to enquire where we were going, coming from, why we weren’t accompanied by a man or a driver, etc. However, nothing made our spirits sag. For safety, I carry an electronic gun, pepper spray and a never-say-die spirit,” asserts Monicka.
The grannies made many friends during their journeys as they drove through unfamiliar terrain and highways. And of course, like all girls, went crazy shopping (they had been shopping so much on their trip that when they ran out of space in the car, they had the package sent home!). Lastly, as a message to other women, Monicka shares, “Have faith in yourself. If you don’t show confidence in yourself, your family won’t show confidence in you. So be brave, be bold and take over the world.”