Road Warriors in Their 70s, Inspiring Travel Enthusiasts

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While their first international road trip was in Australia in 2012, where they hired a car and covered the coastal route from Melbourne to Adelaide, the couple also explored North New Zealand’s coastal road a few years later…reports Sukant Deepak

At an age when most are hungover in nostalgia and melancholy takes over, this couple would rather be on four wheels and cross borders to soak in new adventures, acquaint themselves with distant cultures and speed up in rallies competing with those half their age.

Chandigarh-based Pardeep Gupta (71) and his wife Rekha Gupta (67) started participating in major Indian rallies including Raid De Himalaya, Desert Storm, and Mughal Rally, with Rekha playing navigator in some, at an age when people half their age retire, owing to slowing of reflexes had exited the circuit.

Now that most major rallies are nowhere on the scene owing to a lack of sponsors, the couple have not given up on their passion and consistently go on international drives in their car.

Just back from Chandigarh-Everest base camp (from the China side) via Kathmandu and covering Lhasa in Tibet, the duo drove 7500 kilometres at an altitude of around 17,000 feet.

“Before this, we completed a self-drive trip to London in 2018 crossing 18 borders, covering 26,000 kilometres in 56 days,” Pardeep tells IANS.

While their first international road trip was in Australia in 2012, where they hired a car and covered the coastal route from Melbourne to Adelaide, the couple also explored North New Zealand’s coastal road a few years later.

“These both drives gave us immense confidence, and taught us how to survive long international trips,” says Rekha, who prefers to sit on the passenger seat. “Not that I do not know how to drive,” she quickly adds.

Stressing that the multiple international trips they undertake are not to ‘prove’ anything but, an intense desire to see new places at their own pace, Pardeep stresses: “To use the cliche, that the journey is more interesting than the destination — when one uses a conventional form of transport, you are forced to follow an itinerary — go to the airport, put the luggage at the hotel room and then explore.”

“When we travel in our car, we are free to stop anywhere, make a cup of tea in the middle of nowhere and soak in the beauty of the surroundings. There is a certain sense of independence.”

For the couple who have also undertaken self-drive trips covering Singapore, Laos, China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Czech Republic, Poland, Germany and France, these journeys are not a ‘retirement’ dream come true.

Pardeep, who runs a manufacturing business says: “It is all about time management — making time for your passion along with working hard. Of course, this requires a lot of planning, but it is worth it.”

And it is not that these trips are without hiccups. During the recent Lhasa journey, Rekha experienced intense altitude sickness and had to be administered oxygen frequently. The husband even booked plane tickets back to India for her. However, she wanted to continue.

“I could not afford not to be part of the adventure. Despite the discomfort, I kept reminding myself that it was worth it.”

The couple assure their children and relatives have always encouraged them for such long journeys. “Of course, they get a little concerned, but they are happy that we are living our lives on our terms and not just sitting at home and brooding.”

To stay in shape, both of them are regular at the gym and make it a point to go for long walks every day.

“We spend at least two hours working out. It is paramount not just for physical fitness but also for mental alertness. This is something we do not compromise on as we want to ‘stretch’ this phase of our lives as long as we can,” smiles Rekha.

Planning to embark on the Mongolia Desert expedition next, the duo smiles, “Life is too short to sit at home.”

ALSO READ-India’s Advantage in Health-focused Travel

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