Transcontinental Thrash

I often feel quite jealous of Europeans, because they live in Europe and I don’t. And that just isn’t fair.

Before we jump into it, this post isn’t really all me moaning on and on about corruption in India or the educational system or anything of that sort.

This is about how Europe is just so full of countries, all conveniently located next to each other and well connected by road, so that you can just drive down on the weekend to Switzerland, or the south of France, or wherever. Which in India, is pretty difficult.

A drive down to Pakistan (if the Paki authorities would permit such a thing) would mean risking being shot at by terrorists; a drive down to Nepal would mean risking getting shot at by Maoists; Burma is under a military rule which makes it less attractive to go to, and China would mean having to cross way too many mountains.

So the only remaining option is Bhutan.  And I went there.

The first thing you notice is that the roads are all better. The Chinese built them, or so I hear. The second thing you notice is the number of dragons. Petrol pumps are painted with dragons, trucks have dragons rather than the traditional Indian ‘Buri nazar wale tera muh kala’, and so does every shop. The third thing you notice is how similar to India the place is. I paid a shopkeeper in Indian rupees, and he gave me my change in Bhutanese money.

My point about the whole thing is: there’s nothing like driving down to discover a place you’ve never been to, and it’s an experience that I do know a bit about.

Driving to Kutch a few years ago was a great experience: I know, on a map it looks just like a crappy desert, but it’s a wonderful place. Whenever I tell people that I saw wild asses in Kutch, they just laugh, wondering why anybody would want to see such a ridiculous sounding creature. But these beasts were powerful, almost majestic- a bit like zebras, except that they were ugly. What’s more, they were quick enough to keep up with a car.

Ultimately, I have to say that flying or even traveling by train is so much more dependent, less adventurous, less fun, and most importantly, it’s like looking a place up in the map rather than really knowing it.

For me, exploring Europe has always been a dream I’d love to fulfill, but not before the experience of sitting in a big 4×4 and driving across as much of South Asia as possible. That’s at the top of my ‘To Do’ list now.

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8 Responses to “Transcontinental Thrash”

  1. Silverstreak Says:

    Madras to Pondi. Brilliant drive.
    Bangalore to Gokarna. Even more so.
    Gokarna itself. Paradise.

    Lots to explore in India itself, if you haven’t already visited these places.

  2. Adeel Says:

    Got your driving license?
    Pondi trip would be easy then.

  3. Vinayak Sapru Says:

    i agree. i did go from madras to pondi, though i don’t remember gokarna, since i was about three when i went there. i’ve lived in or explored most regions of india, but there is much i’d still want to see.

    but what i’d really love is the freedom to go where you want in south asia. our neighbours are alright, they just need to stop shooting people.

  4. Vinayak Sapru Says:

    @adeel
    i did. and i have driven on highways without it too, you know. i always was a bit of a juvenile, except that i’m too old to be one anymore.
    i miss my teens.

  5. Adeel Says:

    what car? or 4X4?
    man, seriously, CAN you drive?!!

  6. Vinayak Sapru Says:

    you dare doubt that? the government of west bengal judged me capable of driving.

  7. Flash Says:

    Great post!

  8. Nandhini Says:

    Interesting blog! And a contrast too. I oor-suththified in Europe and am back here with an eye on travelling within India. 🙂 One suggestion, though – try train travel in Europe. It’s a brilliant way to explore the continent.

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