I must confess I loved my wife but I loved another too. Her smile could make any man weak. She, was my Sweet Pea or simply P for short. She was the breath to my lungs and the butter to my bread she was my girl, my first love. Abigail was my wife no doubt but who forgets your first love, it’s always nice to have more of something in your life. I mean who doesn’t enjoy some extra spice like oregano to their pizza? Abigail was not keen at first, who would! With lots of convincing and buttering she too saw the benefits.
I’m sure you have your eyebrows raised. But before you get all judgmental and quote the seventh commandment, I’m just talking about my pistachio green Tata Nano. A 3000 plus km, coast to coast trip with a NANO, from Mumbai to Pondicherry and back home to Mumbai was our idea of a honeymoon road trip. Yes, there, were genuine concerns of how P would fare on such a long drive. It was a car of course but a dainty one. Up till now a trip to the nearby mall, little outings to the city were the only accomplishments in the log book. Her, range and engine capacity did not instill confidence. Put three, five litre, Bisleri cans in a row and that gives you an idea of the tank capacity. This meant more stops to fill her little belly. As a timesaver we came upon a challenge finding a food court and a petrol pump in close proximity. Additionally, owing to a small engine to avoid overheating adequate rest was required making us cover a max of 600 kms in a day.
With ‘there’s no word can’t in the dictionary,’ my motivating line as my wise mother- in-law always said, this was going to be our 1st voyage into the unknown. I could almost hear the Star Trek monologue ringing in my ears, ‘‘to boldly go where no Fernandes has ever gone before.’’
Multiple hours were spent on Google maps planning and re planning, relying on reviews & examining the location though satellite imagery feature which helped in separating the fake from the genuine. Back up plans and diversions in case of road closures were reviewed. We, invested in a handheld TOM TOM (GPS device) that really came in handy in areas of low network coverage. We also went old school with a humble Atlas just in case technology died on us.
Our first stop was a night halt at Hubli before reaching the city of palaces Mysore. Reaching these two places on our list gave us a sense of immediate accomplishment. Adding, to this were the super slick roads in the state of Karnataka. After basking in the rich history of Mysore and paying a visit to it’s zoo, we head to the hills of Ooty. The roads took us through the scenic & beautiful forest reserve of Bandipur in Karnataka. Interestingly, when you crossed borders into Tamil Nadu the same forest is known as Madumalai. One gets a chance to gaze at elephants and deer going about their simple lives totally oblivious of their surroundings. Even though we didn’t plan on going on a safari, this route surely made up for it. Then came the steep Nilgiris of Tamil Nadu with its serpentine 36 hair pend bends. I, loved playing snakes and ladders as a kid, but this was taking it to an all new Jumanji level. P slowly climbed that too after giving me a mild attack as she could climb only on 1st gear & thus took 45 mins to make her way through the all the bends without a huffing & puffing and minus any snake bite to the top of the hill entering Ooty. The 25 km route to Coonoor consisted of winding roads with just a climb here and there leading to Coonoor. This town was less congested and gave us a much needed rest to take in some nice aromas of tea as we drove past many a tea estate, our pistachio green Nano blending so well as we passed every bend ,she felt like one of the leaves, like a water colour in the rain.