One couple’s road trip from Mumbai to London, crossing 19 countries and covering 22,200 km in 72 days, is not just an example of a journey of epic proportion but also a testament to the fact that age really is just a number.
Badri Baldawa, 73, along with his 64-year-old wife and 10-year-old granddaughter, embarked on a trip earlier in March this year in their BMW X5.
Badri, an avid traveller, was struck by the idea sometime in 2011.
On a flight to Mumbai from London, he had switched seats with his wife, only to be blown away by the sheer magnanimity of the mountains that he saw through the window and wondered out loud about the possibility of driving through the terrains.
Though initially dismissed as a joke by his wife, the idea kept growing in Badri’s mind and by May 2016, he started charting a proper route of action. A steel exporter and chartered accountant by occupation, both Badri and his wife are originally from Rajasthan. However, they’d been in Karnataka all their lives before finally calling the city of dreams their home.
Taking an unconventional route, the couple along with their granddaughter Nishi set course from Manipur after which they headed to Thailand in Southeast Asia where the tourism ministry organised a cultural event for them.
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After touching Kunming in China, the family drove for 16 days spanning the northwestern region of the country. On reaching the China-Kyrgyzstan, they had mixed emotions. The warmth of the people coupled with extremely tight security was a paradox in itself.
“We went in with an assumption that people in China and Russia are tough and not too welcoming of outsiders, but we were welcomed everywhere,” said Badri to The Hindu.
Covering 400 km each day with 12-hour drives on an average while taking adequate breaks to look at the places, the longest distance that they had covered on a single day was 930 km, from Warsaw to Brussels.
“On that day we had breakfast in Warsaw (Poland), lunch in Cologne (Germany), and dinner in Brussels (Belgium),” said Mrs. Baldawa.
Now that they have seen a lot of places across the globe, did the Daldawa family view the world through a different perspective because of the road trip?
“When you fly into a place, almost everything is readily accessible and uniform, and so there is a disconnect. But when you drive, the experience of a place is more real in every way, revealing the essence of a place more accurately,” Badri added.
The road trip seems to have made a lasting impact on the couple. “It is difficult for me to think of the highlight of the trip, apart from the constant feeling of wanting to revisit those places and spend more time in almost all of them,” reminisced Mrs. Baldawa.
The Baldawa couple is now on a mission to share all of their travel exploits with the message being that age is no obstacle for the determined.