One Refurbished Car, Two Mad Souls, and 13 Indian States

One Refurbished Car, Two Mad Souls, and 13 Indian States
Hari and Lakshmi's makeshift backseat-bed Photo Credit: Courtesy of Lakshmi Krishna and Harikrishnan J

A couple from Kerala have swapped their house-bound life to take one long road trip in their car after the lockdowns eased

Urvi Shah
February 01 , 2021
11 Min Read

Did you know that #VanLife is a trending thing on social media? That many people across the world are packing up their bags and taking a long trip on the road? They are swapping work and school for adventures around their country. The pandemic has been instrumental in shaking up many, and thanks to the trend of remote work (and school/college), they can be anywhere and still attend office (or even school).  

On October 28 last year, a couple from Kerala decided to depart from the humdrum of their city lives and traverse thirteen states in their car. 


Lakshmi Krishna and Harikrishnan J. run the YouTube Channel called TinPin Stories which has over 80,000 subscribers, and counting, as they blog about their stories on the road. So far, the duo have been to Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Rajasthan in their refurbished car.

Read: It's a Van Life

Lakshmi Krishna and Harikrishnan J—the happy couple

Initially, the plan was to wrap up the adventure in two months. “We were supposed to return to Kerala in December,” says Harikrishnan. However, spontaneity rendered their plans obsolete, and a hankering to extend their trip into 2021 took centrestage. Now they have Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu on their travel map.

Read: A House on Wheels

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The two of them started contemplating the idea of taking an extensive road trip during the lockdown. Once the rules and regulations were less strict, they assembled their ideas into a coherent plan and decided that it’d be best to travel in a car if they wanted to evade restrictions enforced by accommodation options in the pandemic.

A new segment was launched under their channel which would document their road expedition. A few months in, and they are posting three videos per weekeach chronicling experiences unique to the different places they visit.

The couple with members of the Siddi community, in Karnataka

During their travels, they sleep (mostly) in the car. A makeshift their home for now, it is equipped with a five-litre gas cylinder and twenty litres of water to meet their basic needs. They’ve folded their backseat in order to assimilate a makeshift bed, and set up a headrest that can function as an extension to the same.

In the night, they park their car in a petrol pump, and accesses its amenities so they are in proximity to a washroom and aren’t parked in an area cut off from civilisation. In the morning, they freshen up in the petrol pump’s washroom before starting the day.

Lakshmi and Harikrishnan try preparing their meals in the day. "It’s a little difficult to cook in the night since there’s no source of light. We try to cook everything in the afternoon."

Read: Travelling Through the Eyes of YouTuber Harish Bali

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They like to savour dishes indigenous to the places they are in. Lakshmi reminisces about the misal pav they had in Kolhapur, and Harikrishnan describes the naan khaliya distinct to Aurangabad. "You won’t find these anywhere else. Sometimes there’s quite a bit of oil on the surface, but the dishes are amazing," says Harikrishnan.

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In my last conversation with them, the duo was voyaging through The Pink City, Jaipur, and exploring its nuances. They were staying with a relative for a few days. "Lakshmi’s aunt won’t allow us to sleep in the car," laughs Harikrishnan.

Read: Wheels on the Go

In Jaipur, they are cruising through lesser-known locations as opposed to visiting conventional spots. They talk about the city’s famed handicrafts. They’ve experienced Bagru printing (a block-printing technique birthed in village Bagru) and the traditional craft of blue pottery at Jaipur’s Shiv Kripa.

They are also excited about Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh’s walled city and its bazaars. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the grid-plan of the city is fractionated into a number of bazaars specialising in different products. Lakshmi talks about Johari Bazaar which is centered around exquisite jewellery, and Tripolia Bazaar which dabbles in an elaborate variety of bangles.

Hari sleeps tucked in the comfy bed the couple fashioned inside their car

Next up is an excursion to Jaisalmer. But they are relishing the present moment instead of defining their future travel plans. "We don’t have a fixed schedule as such. We don’t think of how much area we’re supposed to cover, or how many kilometres we should travel in a day,” says Laxmi. "We really don’t know where we’ll end up after two days,” Harikrishnan agrees.

The couple like to read up on each destination’s history, and educate themselves on a particular place’s background, unconventional spots, and more. They highly recommend a visit to Lonar Lake, located close to Aurangabad. Also, villages stationed at the fringes of Gujarat’s Kutch are a must-visit for their traditions, culture, artisans, and the ancient handicrafts they foster. 

Read: 5 Road-Trip Ideas for Every Kind of Person

Aboard a boat

Surprisingly, they haven’t stumbled upon any major pandemic-related impediment up until now. And their encounters with people have been nothing short of heartwarming. In Karnataka’s Heroor, for instance, a father-daughter duo invited them onto their boat, and took them around the Hanging Bridge (which was shut at the time).

In another incident (during their drive to Jaipur from Kumbhalgarh), the couple had stopped midway to click a few pictures when they stumbled upon a few girls who were working at the site of a check-dam. The girls, along with other villagers, interacted with Laxmi and Harikrishnan with unparalleled warmth, welcomed them to Rajasthan, and insisted on hosting them for a day. They were plied with good food, much-needed water, and great company. On a hike the following day, they dined with a few families in the area as well. And in Kutch, they stayed with a local family for a few days who extended to the couple their parking space and provided meals for a minimal fee. 

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According to Harikrishnan, striking a balance between their YouTube channel and travelling is tricky. Editing, alone, consumes eight to ten hours, he says. But they wouldn’t have it any other way. "I would never outsource my work to an editor," he says. "I think the videos would lose their authenticity if that happened; an editor won’t have much context to work with. Since we’re experiencing everything, we’re able to translate our feelings into a video."

The couple predicts they will return to Kerala in April, but who’s to say an extension isn’t on the cards? 

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