Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Times Women's Drive - Mumbai to Goa - With Priya & Geeta

Its almost like I was waiting for this for 5 long years. Right from the time it was Lavasa Women's Drive. I always wanted to participate , but as March happens to be the exam time for all the kids, could not get hold of my friends who were all busy mommies :)

So this time around, when my friend Mrudula Lele, from Pune, reached out to me asking me to vote for her to participate in the Times Women's Drive, it was almost like a wild monster woke up in me.

On February 1st 2016, when I got to know, I was already 15 days days late into the campaign. My frantic calls to few close friends who could drive resulted in the same responses of exams, meetings, project deliveries, driving through ghats , pre-booked weekend schedules...:(  That's when I realized that I had 2 amazing women close at hand.. Priya Juvekar from my office, jumped at the opportunity and gave me a thumbsup even without checking with her family :) Way to go Priya...and then came Geeta Sreedharan, who was also super enthu despite having her daughter's exams going on. That was enough for me to go ahead and register. I called Krishnan and asked him if I can participate and drive to Goa. Being super busy as usual, all he said was that we will discuss in the night. But how do you expect me to control my excitement till the night when time was slipping by. I promptly registered and messaged Krishu :)

I would say, the journey for the Times Women's Drive started much before the date of Flag Off on 5th March. Priya , Geeta & I were literally going crazy driving the campaigns on Facebook, Whatsapp groups, friends, family and colleagues asking them to vote for us.  When you have so many women registering for an event, we really did not expect that we will be in the list of 195 women to actually qualify for the drive. But then, thanks to all our supporters, friends and relatives from across continents, who pooled in so many votes that we did manage to end the campaign at the 65th position.

The next 2 weeks .. count down to flag off is like a blur. This entire experience of  not getting the email updates, realizing that we had to submit all the documents and the registration amount on 19th Feb ( we realized it at 7.00 AM that day) , the submission of hard copies of all documents,  the mad rush to get Rally insurance, trying to squeeze in time on a weekend for servicing the car.... all crazy times. and we were trying to do all this, amidst crazy schedules at office....

The seriousness actually set in when we attended the briefing session on 29th Feb at Mt. Litera School in BKC. For someone who is happy driving around, the Time Speed & Distance (TSD) Rally format was worse than Greek, Latin and Alien all put together.  The fun actually started when we tried mapping the sample Tulip chart to the distance between BKC to The Rising City in Chembur. After at least 3 attempts of tripping the Odometer to 0 and taking wrong U Turns, we finally managed to start at BKC and head towards Chembur. For the first time, I felt as if I was driving blind, purely based on directions ( read loads of yelling and giggling) from Priya and Geeta. The distance which we were supposed to cover in 19 minutes, we managed to reach in almost 1 hour. That should have been a learning, but we are crazy right :) We were just happy that we could at least read the Tulips right and went on a Sunday night shopping spree ... Obviously for the party at Zuri in Goa :)

Our team 065 was named Team A.W.E.S.O.M.E - Amazing Women - Enterprising, Successful, Organized, Multitasking, Enchanting. We went ahead with our concept of  celebrating ourselves and also all the Women achievers in multiple fields.  My baby - Fluidic Verna was all set to take us from Mumbai to Goa in a colorful way.  After coming back from office at 7.00 PM, we decorated our car till late in the night on 4th March 2016 - Friday. We could hardly sleep and we ended up  even dreaming about driving. At 5.30 AM when we took the JVLR to go to Chembur, we were just hoping that all our efforts of decorating the car would at least stay till we reach the venue :) after 2 attempts to stop on the way and sticking all the pictures with enhanced cello tapes, we finally reached the flag off starting point. To see so many colorfully decorated cars and beautifully styled ladies was in itself a treat to the eyes.  We were flagged off at 8.05 AM on 5th March 2016 and imagine Priya and Geeta feverishly looking at the 35 page Tulip Chart book from Mumbai to Ganapatipule which was the first day of the Rally. After almost taking a wrong turn at Panvel, we were headed on our way , finding each and every minute turns, thrilled that we are able to identify various landmarks on the way, trying to eat the carry away breakfast and finding all the Secret Time Controls on the way ( Phew...There were 12 checks all the way to Ganapatipule) . Amidst all the chaos of directions, eagerly looking for TCs, we were totally clueless about the time calculations :). At one point, after trying to find the average speed of all the average speeds given, we almost gave up on the calculations. we were busy focusing on the directions, and happily choosing between which flavour of the cake and what cookies to eat :). Even while we slowly started to realise that we might be going slow, looking back now, we cant believe that we actually laughed at other cars which were speeding. After wasting considerable amount of time stopping for Vada Pavs,  busy posting updates and pics on Facebook, Geeta almost forcing Priya to drive at a speed of as low as 7 KMPH, thinking that we are going fast and enjoying the road almost like a joy ride, we managed to reach Ganapatipule almost around 7.30 PM.  The best thing was , even when we were about to reach the end point, we were so confident that we are early that we spent almost 15 minutes filling the fuel tank before reaching the final check point.. Told you , we were crazy :)

The Dinner at Ganapatipule at the Landmark Hotel was relaxing after a day's driving through lonely roads. Still can't stop giggling when we think back about the Dinner table discussions with all the wonderful women around. We actually met with few ladies who happened to win the event twice before and we were really prompt in getting all our papers, pens and calculators to take tuition and learn from them on how to do the exact calculations :)  To say that we were tired and sleep deprived would be stupid , because we were still giggling away to our glory till late in the night , remembering all the stupid things we did through out the day . 

6th March 2016 - Sunday - the 2nd day of the rally started on a fresh bright morning. Having finished early breakfast, we were on our way to the new flag off point. we waited for almost an hour before we got to know that the 2nd leg of the rally got cancelled due to some political issue  and considering safety concerns.  on one side we were thrilled that we could now drive to Goa without worrying about speed limits, Time controls and Tulip charts, but on the other side, we were indeed sad that we were missing out on the chance to make up on the previous day's goof up we did with our calculations :). Here I do have to mention that the organizers were all totally geared up quickly for the crisis management, changed routes, arranging for convoys to accompany 195 rally cars and they tried their best to manage the situation. But how can you control 195 *3  ladies who are eager to move ahead of each other? :) and nothing undermines the excitement even if the route is now an additional 160 KM to Goa... so by the time we reached Kolhapur and stopped for lunch, everyone was going crazy with the parking spaces, lunch orders, loo breaks and anxious to drive forward and reach Goa. The route from Kolhapur to Goa was like one of the most craziest drives that I have ever had in my life. Passing through the road blocks of traffic at Kolhapur, burning the rubber on the tyres with speeds of 100KM + on the Expressways of Kolhapur to Belgaum, numerous confusions on the way and the toll booths, quite a few of us managed to land and regroup at Belgaum.  The route given to us was to pass through Udam Nagar, Chorla Ghat and Goa. Imagine almost 15 rally cars starting together after a regroup and everyone of them getting lost in different roads in the traffic, that by the time we left Belgavi behind, we were almost the only car racing towards the Chorla Ghat in the afternoon Sun. The beautiful scenic route of Chorla Ghat was mesmerizing with the backdrop of the setting Sun, but then, when you are trying to clear the Ghats before dark at speeds of 60KM, you dont get to enjoy the nature around :(. so finally as the darkness slowly grew around, even as the GPS refuses to catch the signal in the hilly terrain, and with one lonely rally car ahead which found its way back along with us, we managed to reach Goa finally. Goa in itself is a different world altogether on a late Sunday evening :) . I guess we must have gone around the same roads at least twice , before we finally managed to reach our Serviced Apartments and crashed.  When the second rally car load of our friends - Vani, Sudha & Mythili finally reached our place of stay, we were again all geared up to go to the party and Zuri. We were all exhausted, tired , aching all over, but the feeling of accomplishment was radiating on all our smiles. Driving from Mumbai to Goa isn't easy, that too when you have to navigate directions without your GPS, trying to control your speeds, crisscrossing through the Sahayadri mountain ranges and various Ghats, all the while giggling like school kids and happily living your life to the fullest. One regret will remain that we didn't even go to a beach in Goa as we started the next day morning and drove back to Mumbai. But we had super fun Rally experience for the first time in our lives. And when we realized that we could manage to come at 46th place out of the 195 cars which drove from Mumbai to Goa,  you bet we are waiting for the next one ;)

1 comment:

C.G. Krishnan said...

You are A.W.E.S.O.M.E. - I am sure you guys had loads of fun - keep smiling and keep flying high 👍 👍