A road less travelled

Amrita Prasad
Monday, 28 May 2018

Medha Joseph and Sujal Patwardhan, founders and directors of Embarq Motorword, are organising an All India Women’s Drive — India to Thailand

Women are breaking barriers in every field and coming up triumphs. Embarking on an adventurous journey and encouraging women to push beyond their limits, Medha Joseph and Sujal Patwardhan, founders and directors of Embarq Motorworld, are organising an All India Women’s Drive — India to Thailand.  

The trip, which was announced on Women’s Day in March, will take place later this year, between October 20 and November 4, covering a total distance of 2,800 km. Here’s catching up with Joseph and Patwardhan, who quit their jobs to chase their dream:  

Why has there been a sudden rise in the number of women bikers/ drivers travelling solo or in groups?
Joseph: Thanks to the wonderful cars and motorcycles available in India, today more and more women have started to enjoy the road trip experience. Once you go exploring a place on wheels it is very difficult to travel any other way. We, at Embarq, believe in the age-old saying, ‘The journey, not the destination matters’.  

Can you tell us how things will unfold during the All India Women’s Drive — India To Thailand?
Patwardhan: This drive has been put together by Embarq in collaboration with Western India Automobile Association (WIAA). We will follow the convoy format where there will be a lead car with a local team to navigate and guide, and a support car to sweep the whole convoy. The car and motorcycles will have separate convoys with full support teams to take care of any contingencies. We will set a pace that is reasonable and guide the travellers about the dangers or experiences that one should expect on the road ahead. This is where our recce comes in handy. 

The flag off will be from Guwahati, and the convoys will reach Imphal and cross the Indian border into Myanmar. We will drive through the countryside of Myanmar across 50 iron bridges. Then we will drive through Bagan — the archaeological site with thousands of Buddhist temples, drive by the capital of Myanmar and cross into Thailand where we will drive across the Asian highway to reach Bangkok while experiencing the remote beauty of the small towns. There are limited seats available, 25 for the car convoy and 10 for the motorcycle convoy. A maximum of up to four women can travel in one car.

How has the itinerary been planned?
Joseph: We have done overland journeys, especially India to Thailand route multiple times in the past. Our first-hand experience, along with thorough research and the support of WIAA, has contributed significantly in putting this concept together at an international level. The itinerary has been planned by us personally for this drive. 

There are two categories — the participants and the Embarq crew to manage the drive. The participants come on board with their own vehicles. Once they get in touch we understand their reason to do this road-trip, past experience in driving/ riding and readiness to take up this challenge. After signing up they will be provided with all the material on driving instructions, a road book, how to prep, detailed travel advisory and all the assistance in getting ready for the drive.  

The second part is the crew of Embarq. There is a very clear selection criteria jointly put together by Embarq and WIAA. We are all bound by passion, which makes for the first selection criteria. The second criteria is skill. Most of the people in this group have significant riding or driving experience. We also have local partners across every country to ensure the most perfect arrangement for our guests and crew.

While on the one hand, women are travelling solo, there’s also an expanding number of people travelling in groups. What is the psychology behind it?
Patwardhan: People either don’t have the time or resources to research and plan for such road trips. The lack of knowledge, right-hand driving, traffic rules, navigation, and language issues, among other things, bog them down. It sometimes could be discouraging for aspiring travellers. In such cases, they feel confident to drive in the security of a convoy, while enjoying the privacy of their own car with friends or family. The biggest bonus being meeting like-minded people and making new friends. In the recent past, there have been few women who have taken up the overland expedition of driving from India to Europe. Overland road trips require a lot of knowhow and paperwork which is time-consuming. And a lot of roadtrippers shy away or don’t know where to begin with or how to go about it. Also, taking care of breakdowns and contingencies in another country is challenging and that is another reason why the majority of women and men like to travel in a group. We get enquiries and have a wide customer base in South, majorly in Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kochi and Chennai, among other cities.

What are your expectations from the trip?
Joseph: A road trip is an enriching experience because you get to spend a significant amount of time for self-reflection and you also get to enjoy the company of like-minded people. We want to encourage women to cross their personal boundaries and have this unique experience by embarking on this road trip. 
 
What is your advice to the younger generation, especially women?
Patwardhan: Make it big. Do something you believe in and try to have fun along the way.

ST READER SERVICE:
To register for All India Women’s Drive — India To Thailand, visit embarq.in

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