It’s a mum’s dream journey realized and Mums and stories is proud to feature this inspiring story.
From Women Beyond Boundaries, Nidhi Tiwari shares her experience of driving 23,800 km, in 95 days and having visited 17 countries recently. She was accompanied by Soumya Goyal and Rashmi Koppar, who being travelers in their own right, were chosen by Women Beyond Boundaries to partake in its maiden journey.
Nidhi initiated, conceptualized and led a noteworthy journey that has made several women who want to do this in their lives and have taken notice of the inspirational journey.
This was a dream to drive trans-continental and another mum, Smita M Rajaram felt the medium of driving was hugely empowering and can become the vehicle for women empowerment. And together they founded a platform for women who truly love going beyond boundaries – Women Beyond Boundaries.
Women Beyond Boundaries undertook its first maiden journey from Delhi to London this year.
“I have always been an outdoor enthusiast. Trekking, going on Himalayan expeditions and exploring new destinations have always been intrinsic in my life, since I was eleven years old.
I took to jeeping in 2004-05 when a close friend introduced me to the world of vehicles. Together we built a jeep and would head out every weekend to test the machine and our own driving skills of course.
The fact that I was married and had children by then was no stopping. Because I truly believe that as women we have to work towards keeping our inner-selves alive whatever our passion may be.Now my boys are aged 12 and 10 years and my family is very supportive and realize that my wellness lies in being able to pursue my passion for the outdoors, driving to name a few..
I have always ventured into long distance driving trips – Bangalore – Delhi, Jaisalmer – Nainital to name some of the destinations covered earlier.
And in 2007, I went to Ladakh for the first time. I got introduced to driving in the mountains and in high altitude areas. Again last year when on a road trip to Ladakh I got struck at Baralacha La on the Leh-Manali Road.
The water on the road was frozen and I was stuck the whole night. I spent the whole night in the car with sub-zero temperatures yet the night was amazing with the views and the experience. It was that night that I decided I was ready to go on my dream journey of driving transcontinental.
So early this year, I started working on it, did a lot of route research and was very clear that it would be a solo journey. I did work day and night for the next 6 months till we were flagged off. Around this time, I happened to share my plan with my close friend Smita Mazumdar Rajaram during one of our evening conversations about women and empowerment.
We discussed how and why most women would not even consider undertaking a similar journey on their own even if they silently in some corner of their heart wanted to. I felt there were two reasons, primarily being skill deficit and secondly lack of opportunity to hone skills for women drivers.
Skill deficit in terms of being able to handle the machine and opportunity like getting to drive long distances.
I cannot generalize but I think in most families, while the women may be driving to work and extensively in the city, but when on a holiday or undertake any such drives, it’s assumed that the man will do maximum driving.
For example, to be a long distance driver, one needs endurance and the ability to drive continuously. And for that one needs the stamina for it and that comes with exposure.
So we felt such women will benefit from a platform where they could work on both these aspects.
And Smita, being a professional in the development sector pointed out that why not extend the platform for empowerment beyond urban women. If women drivers are empowered to drive on difficult terrain, then why not as a team reach out to women in far flung areas and deliver goods or services. So its empowerment on both ends.
And that’s how Women Beyond Boundaries as a platform was born.
And what a way to announce its arrival than a road journey of this scale and magnitude, being attempted by a woman driver and an all women crew.
So this drive from Delhi to London has been WBB’s maiden road journey.
Coming back to the preparations for the journey, from the very beginning, I knew that I had limited amount of funds to undertake a journey like this without a sponsor. So I went and knocked on many doors.
Most people would hear me out and then either dismiss this as impossible or too risky attempt. At this point I still wanted to undertake this as a solo journey. But finally Mahindra First Choice Wheels were the first people who suggested that this can be worked out.
At this point, it was still treading to be a solo journey. They got back to me with common concerns (risk, support etc) but were at least open to the idea. And I am very grateful to them for that. So I worked to mitigate such concerns. WBB then said, why not find participants who can come along? I happen to share this with Soumya and Rashmi, whom I have known for many years.
They were very excited and wished to be part of this journey. And that how it ended up becoming a 3 member team.
The journey began on July 23rd from New Delhi and we completed it in 97 days reaching our final destination in London.
We travelled on road from India, and then to Myanmar, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, France and finally to United Kingdom.
I was recently talking at a radio station when I was asked on who has been my pillar of support and I must admit I had to point out to my children who are young but understand that this is very important to their mum. I have always held a full time job. Prior to this journey I was heading the curriculum development & teacher education team at Educational Innovations, an education consultancy in Gurgaon.
For the last one year, the kids saw how hard I worked and what this meant to me. Each day after putting them to sleep at night, I would sometimes work all night and research the route, make documents for sponsors, find information and related work
Sometimes when I would call them on the phone from somewhere en route and tell them that I was really missing them….they would hold me up.
I still remember my younger son telling me on the phone, when I had called from Kyrgyzstan I think…”Mamma…remember how hard you worked to get there…now don’t be sad, I am going nowhere, you enjoy yourself!” I had tears in my eyes.
We have created history of being the first woman driver to drive from New Delhi to London and with an all woman team to travel from New Delhi to London by road.”
Women Beyond Boundaries intends to be a platform to encourage more women taking up driving and get out of the notion of unnecessary perceptions of travelling long distances.
Kudos to the team and Mums and stories hopes this milestone becomes a trend setter among mums.
— with Women Beyond Boundaries.