Sunday, January 6, 2013

6 January 2013 - Mission Fast Track


Travel becomes a habit. Setting a record is a thrill. Therefore, travelling to set a record is a habit forming thrill. Accepting this proposition as a given, I am setting out tomorrow to set two new records.
I am embarking from Cochin on a record setting, fast track double header between 7th January and 2nd February 2013 - to take on challenges that have not been done solo so far. The double header is to set two records in one go – the first is the Coastal Expedition and the second is the East-West Expedition.

The Coastal Expedition will begin on 11th January 2013 from Koteshwar in Kutch, Gujarat and terminate on 18th January 2013 in Sagar Island in West Bengal. The 6650 kms drive tracing the coast line of India will be completed in less than 8 days (the present team record is 6 days) and will cover 13 States and Union Territories. The itinerary is as follows:
Jan 11 – Koteswar to Diu – 960 kms
Jan 12 – Diu to Mumbai – 860 kms
Jan 13 – Mumbai to Mangalore – 1120 kms
Jan 14 – Mangalore to Kanyakumari – 750 kms
Jan 15 – Kanyakumari to Chennai – 850 kms
Jan 16 – Chennai to Visakapatnam – 890 kms
Jan 17 – Visakapatnam to Baleswar – 870 kms
Jan 18 – Baleswar to Sagar Island – 350 kms

The East-West Expedition will begin from Tezu in Arunachal Pradesh on 26th January 2013 and terminate in Koteshwar in Kutch, Gujarat on 29th January. The 3700 kms drive is expected to be completed in 96 hours (the present team record is 83 hours) and will span 7 States, including two in the North East. The drive plan is as follows:
Jan 26 – Tezu to Alipurduar – 900 kms
Jan 27 – Alipurduar to Mughalsarai – 900 kms
Jan 28 – Mughalsarai to Indore – 980 kms
Jan 29 – Indore to Koteswar – 940 kms

A major deviation from the previous forays is the use of technology. In the past friends recommended the use of a GPS devise to help on the ‘roads less travelled’. I have dismissed the suggestion remarking that the devise has a female voice directing you to ‘turn left’ or ‘turn right’, thus mimicking the condition when my wife is beside me in the car! However, this time around I am using a GPS data logger with a recording devise, more as back up documentation than as a road finder. This device has an additional functionality in that it can be used by friends and well wishers to make the journey with me virtually. The trip can be tracked live on Select “Customer Login”, use sj as username and sj123 as password to enter the tracking page. Click on Fleet Management and choose either Live Tracking or History to ‘travel with SJ’ on the record setting, fast track drives.

I had wanted to do the East West Expedition last October. However, certain unfortunate developments in Assam put paid to my plans. I postponed the trip and later decided to combine two fast track drives into one Mission. The entire trip – Cochin to Cochin – will cover nearly 17,000 kms in 4 weeks. I have been packed for the trip since the Christmas week. I have packed and repacked many times since then. This morning I decided to load most of the luggage into the car. I have reconfirmed accommodation for the first fortnight of the trip. I will be checking into hotel accommodation only for three of the twenty seven days. The rest will be in government accommodation, rest houses and friends’ residences. 

I am excited. Normally, I do not get good sleep when I start an expedition. I compensate for it on the days I drive. I seek your good wishes and prayers. I need them in large measure.

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