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On the road to friendship

A road trip can open up so many possibilities for people to bond with each other, writes Bhargavi Guha

Photo: S. Subramanium

A new passion Bikers of the ”The Great Indian Road Trip” at India Gate after completing their journey

During the times of Romans, it was not uncommon for young men to to tour the Roman world together. Carl Jung even identified the road trip as a persistent element of human culture. These would definitely be among the earliest references to road trips in history.

Road trips are hugely popular in the U.S. and other European countries, with professional clubs organising trips around the world.

Road-tripping in India is no longer a fad and is a part of the “growing-up” experience for youngsters. Road trips are now part of popular culture, with several movies depicting roadtrips. Recently, the hugely popular “Saroja” was also based on incidents that happen to a bunch of friends on their road trip to Hyderabad to watch a cricket match.

Several years ago, Xbhp.com, an online community for Indian bikers across India, galvanised the passion for road-tripping by organising “The Great Indian Road Trip”. It covered roughly 18,000 km and spanned the length and breadth of the country. The event was widely covered and garnered a lot of attention.

Memorable trip

“I have been on many road trips in the last few years, but the most memorable till date was a trip I went on right after college with four other biking enthusiasts and friends. We covered 1,500 km over five days, stopping at Kodaikanal, Ooty, Coonoor, Masinagudi, Mudumalai, Mysore and Bangalore, before heading back to Chennai. My parents didn’t know that I was doing the trip on bike. Only after coming back did I tell them that it was not a car trip,” reminisces Arjun, an engineering graduate.

Road trips offer an excellent opportunity for friends to bond over punctured tyres or tea at roadside shacks, shared memories and just pure companionship.

Chilling out

“Road trips are fun when they are not planned point-to-point. As long as you have accommodation booked, that is enough. Its better not to have agendas; get as spontaneous and adventurous as you can. My friends and I went on a road trip to Goa last year. It was loads of fun as it was the first time we took off on our own without parents. To me, it was more than just a trip with friends. It showed that I could take care of myself and that I was now a grown-up, free to do what I wanted,” says Siddharth, who is doing his engineering.

Road trips are not an all-male phenomenon. Women also go on road trips, but they are lesser in number. However, women do join road trips on the bike as pillion riders, and on car trips also. “I went on a road trip two years ago, after B-school, just before taking up a job. We were three girls and five boys. We drove down to Pondicherry and Chidambaram. And, we’ve been wanting to go on another trip to relive those memories,” says Meenakshi, a banker.

“Road-tripping is a great way to bond with the people you are travelling with and I would strongly recommend it to people. It not only makes you appreciate yourself as an individual but is an amazing experience as you get to meet new people, know different cultures and sample different cuisines. I can never forget biking on sleet, riding though torrential rains, gobbling hot rotis at dhabas, the beautiful snow-capped mountains and guy talk with friends on the trip,” says Dheeraj, who recently went to Ladakh.

Stay safe

However, all is not hunky dory during these trips. You have to be way about accidents and mishaps. And, realise that freedom comes with responsibility. Says Arjun: “I had borrowed my friend’s bike for the trip, and though it looked good, it gave problems on the foothills of Kodaikanal and we couldn’t do the climb. Being a weekend, there were no mechanics. It helps to know your machine. A passion for road-tripping is not enough. You need to be equipped to take care of yourself also.”

So why do people do it? “Well, my memories of my favourite road trip were an injured leg, chocolates, beautiful photographs and a great sense of fulfilment,” recalls Arjun.

It is youngsters like these who have transformed road-tripping from just a hobby to an art.

After all, friendship and travel is a potent combination that you can’t say no to.

So, when are you road-tripping?

* * *

Do remember

* Don’t be in a rush. Say goodbye to deadlines and tensions.

* Always wear a helmet

* Carry medicines, a first-aid kit and basic tools

* Avoid riding/driving at night

* Invest in a good camera and maps

* Read up on the places on your agenda

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