Two years ago, two women, Medha Joseph and Sujal Patwardhan, at the peak of their corporate careers, decide to let go of the high-flying jobs one fine day. Medha had, by that time, spent 11 years as finance professional with reputed MNCs whereas Sujal was vice-president at a Mumbai-based investment bank and had served 14 years in the human resources sector at renowned companies. They were passionate about one thing, travel. Too hard to resist the temptation to backpack, in 2016, both set up an overland touring company first, beginning with an India-Morocco trip.
“The gypsy mind in our blood has been touring and travelling across the world and we have experienced several amazing things. We have also taken this initiative of ‘Embarq’ (the company) to help people experience the wonders of travelling abroad,” Medha speaks. They drove extensively across the roads of Scotland, India to Spain, New Zealand, Best of Silk Route and Baltics self drive. Come October, something big on these lines happen — to cover a 2800 kilometres from India to Thailand on car and motorcycle. On board are all women! In Medha’s words, it is “an epic trip where roads will host gorgeous landscapes for you, international borders will turn the cultures like pages of a poetry book, and the soothing breeze would let you soar higher, this is a perfect tribute to the adventure-crazy you.”
In part, Kerala can stake a claim to Pune-based Medha, married to Joseph Thomas from Kozhencherry in Thiruvalla, who prefers to call the state her ‘second home’. Medha and her entourage of 13, including the 12 year-old Krishnavardhan from Bengaluru had just completed a refreshing drive in Range Rover Sport SUVs through the beautiful highlands and lowlands of Scotland. “This is our classic fixed departure self-drive road trip in Scotland. They are driving through some offbeat routes and visiting some renowned whisky distilleries, enjoying the gourmet food and staying at some of the best properties in the Scottish land,” Medha brings some updates over email.
How was it like in the beginning? Medha recaps the days both had to part with the cushy jobs, which was not a walk in the park. “Our mentors at work, friends and especially family made it easy for us. They had their doubts and anxiety initially. Once they saw our resolve and passion to follow our dream, they stood by us unconditionally,” she rewinds. Beyond the irresistive bite of travel bug, the aim has been to change the holiday habits of people and make explorers out of tourists. “Challenge was to take this concept to people and make them understand why a road-trip. While you are on it, you actually get to experience the nature, land, and also the culture and diversity of the places we travel through,” she explains. Their first international road trip was to Kyrgyzstan in the October of 2016. Since then, there was no looking back.
Medha speaks high of Malayalis’ love for travel. “My husband and I love going on road-trips. We have travelled the length and breadth of India by road. We often drive down to Kerala from Hyderabad. It was our shared dream to go on an overland road-trip that made us take up the India to Morocco drive. I think Keralities are born road-trippers. The normal way to commute in Kerala is by driving around those beautiful winding roads. Anybody who travels in Kerala, especially by road, is bound to fall in love with long drives.”
This is how the October ride, starting from Guwahati to Bangkok took place. “Lots of women like to drive and want to do overland road-trips. The thrill and joy of crossing India’s border in your own car/motorcycle is a unique experience. However it requires a lot of know-how and paperwork which is time consuming. Most of them shy away not knowing where to begin with, or go about it. Having done this route from Guwahati to Thailand multiple times, we wanted to provide an opportunity where women could sign-up without any hesitation. Their concerns regarding safety, security, experience are completely taken care of,” she says. Travel enthusiast women may join the team on http://embarq.in/womens-drive. The journey beginning on October 20 concludes on November 4.