Nagpur: Three women, 21,477km, 17 countries, 97 days and a journey of their lifetime. When best buddies Rashmi Koppar, Dr Soumya Goyal and Nidhi Tiwari embarked on an all-woman expedition between New Delhi and London, they dared to give wings to their childhood dream.
With no back-up vehicle, the mothers in their mid-30s pushed all boundaries to create awareness on women empowerment. Nidhi who conceptualized the trip was also the only driver at the wheel of the vehicle.
Nihi who specializes in outdoor education, off-the-road jeeping, long-distance and high-altitude driving and has a lots of outdoor jeeping experience in India and abroad, floated the idea. And her friends immediately lapped it up.
The journey of Women Beyond Boundaries started in June and came a full circle in October, crossing India, Myanmar, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Finland, Czech Republic, Germany and the United Kingdom. The car which kept the friends company happened to be the first Indian vehicle to cross the Arctic Circle, they maintained.
Rashmi Koppar, who works with MS Ramaiah Hospital, recalled the remarkable voyage.
“The first thing we did while entering every country was to buy a local SIM card. However, we couldn’t book accommodations in advance as our schedule kept changing.” They trio drove close to 600km a day . “It was only in India and England that we spoke in English. In the other countries, we used sign language and Google translator,” added Dr Soumya Goyal, therapist at MS Ramaiah Hospital.
“We wanted to tell the women of the world that such expeditions are possible and that there was nothing to be scared of.We avoided driving late at night, instead, spent evenings exploring the cities. In fact, we didn’t find a single woman driving on the highway till we reached Europe,” said Dr Goyal.
Uninhabited zones, non-tarred roads, rocky terrains, forests, streams and dunes greeted the women at every turn, giving them the kind of high they always craved for. All three took a sabbatical from their jobs to realize their dream.
Among the many hardships the trio faced was the landslide in Myanmar where bridges were washed away. “We took over five days to cover a distance of 200km from Imphal to Myanmar; usually, it takes not more than 2-3 hours. It also meant redoing our visas,” said Rashmi.”When we were stuck due to a landslide in Manipur, the locals offered to help us. We trusted them and stayed with their families and also got to taste home-cooked Manipuri food. The trip reinforced my faith in human goodness,” she said.