|Duo on a lifeline drive along India’s borders|
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
As originally published at http://www.deccanchronicle.com/tabloid/others/driving-finish-728
Driving to the finish
With 17,000 km completed and only another 7,000 to go, for Harsha and Prabha Koda it looked like the Borderline Drive was en route to completion.
But that was not to be. After conquering the highest passes of the Himalayas and cruising along the notorious roads of the Northeast, not to mention escaping militants and bandits in Kashmir and Bihar, Harsha and Prabha’s adventure took a cruel turn when they entered the four-lane highway on the Orissa coast.
“We were entering the last leg of the Borderline Drive, when on the highway I had to swerve to avoid a motorised rickshaw full of people who suddenly moved towards us.
While we saved those five people from colliding into us, our Xylo toppled over several times and landed in a paddy field some 30 feet from the highway,” says Harsha.
Miraculously, Harsha escaped with a few bruises but Prabha was not so lucky. “Prabha was badly injured and she was half outside the car with her face in the mud.
She was a horrific sight with her face black from injuries and swollen to twice its size and her eyes open just as slits. Bruises covered her left side and she was in pain from a broken rib,” says Harsha recollecting it all.
With the goodness of strangers to rely on, Prabha was admitted in hospital and was said to be in no immediate danger.
“On the third day after the accident, as Prabha lay on the hospital bed in Cuttack with IV tubes in both hands and barely able to open her eyes, she said, ‘Call me stupid, or mad or whatever... but can we finish the borderline drive as soon as I can travel’.” In a week’s time when Prabha was deemed fit to travel, the couple flew out to Chennai only to prepare for the revival of the drive.
Harsha and Prabha started the Borderline drive mid last year in an effort to spread awareness on stem cell replacement and give lease to the wanderlust in them. “Prabha and I have been ‘on the road’ since we bought our first car in 2000.
We drove everywhere and eventually driving became a passion. It is an extension of our lifestyles — we work on our own and make our own schedules. So why would our travel be any different?” he smiles.
The Borderline drive was preceded by the couple’s Kerala Drive (2002), Karnataka (2003), Valley of Flowers and Himalayas (2008) and Homestays Drive (2010).
“The unique aspect of the Borderline drive was that the route would pass through almost every Indian state. It also contained areas that were un-reachable and sensitive because of militancy or political unrest. But we decided that it had to be done and that if anyone could do it… we certainly can!” smiles Harsha.
With Prabha as the ‘official’ navigator and Harsha behind the wheel, their vaahan – as Harsha likes to put it —Haliaetus, has travelled through some amazing sights. “Living in the protected bliss of India’s southern metropolis, most of us fail to understand the pressures and prejudices that accompany the ‘existential lives’ of those in these troubled areas,” says Harsha.
Now, after seven months of rest and recoup, Harsha and Prabha embarked on their drive on June 8, beginning at the exact spot where they left-off — 21.77N & 87.2E.
“We will be driving down the east coast up to Kanyakumari and up the west coast to Mumbai — to finish the loop where we started - The Gateway of India. Without the support of our friends at Mahindra & Mahindra, we wouldn’t be re-starting The Borderline Drive.
We thank Bharat Petroleum too for extending their support. Our thanks to Michellin, Red Bull and Hammock Holidays too,” says Harsha.