A replica kettuvallam is a great memento to get from Kerala
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What’s better than a road trip? A road trip with your childhood best friend, of course. And it’s all the merrier when it’s that one epic trip you both always wanted to undertake but couldn’t quite find the right occasion. Actor Kunal Kapoor and comedian and television host Cyrus Sahukar did just that with a nine-day adventure across the Himalayan terrains, deadly roads, hairpin bends and comic capers included. They got extra lucky as Fox Life made a reality show out of it called Great Escape with Kunal and Cyrus.
“The producers asked me who I’d like to travel with, and I couldn’t think of anyone else,” says Kunal Kapoor. “My first choice was Sahu (Cyrus Sahukar) since we’ve been friends for 22 years now.” Given a Jeep Grand Cherokee to manoeuvre across stretches of what could hardly be called roads, they crawled at 10–15 kmph on the “world’s deadliest stretch” from Tabo to Pooh. Cyrus describes it as Mad Max-like terrain, barren, rocky and spooky. “I don’t drive, and we have one terabyte of footage of Kunal moaning about it,” says Cyrus. “I drove a little, but not much. But I did enjoy staring out of the window and playing with the gadgets.”
Kunal says, “Cyrus is a terrible navigator. He was sleeping on the map.” It’s at one of the 19 consecutive hairpin bends the duo encountered, that Cyrus supposedly learned to drive. “Kunal’s an amazing teacher, but I’d say, the operative word is cautious,” says Cyrus.
And how did they begin their trip? “Our first leg involved going from McLeodganj to Andretta, via Andhra Pradesh, so great was the detour the producers gave us.” The drive from Rampur to Rakcham was particularly beautiful, according to Kunal, along a narrow road. “But the crazy part is that you have to stop at a temple where everyone gets off and prays for their safety. It’s not very reassuring,” says Kunal. “The road also cuts through rocks, so somewhere in the middle of nowhere, there is a tiny exit and a huge boulder above you,” adds Cyrus. Road safety was apparently a huge issue. “The roads were insane. At times, the whole road had caved in, and it gets spooky with landslides,” he continues.
Some light(-headed) moments occurred at the Dhankar Monastery in Spiti Valley, which sits at almost 13,000 ft above sea level. “We never got the chance to acclimatise as we were just driving,” says Kunal. “At the monastery, we were communicating in gibberish and were about to pass out.”
Cyrus remarks with his trademark humour, “I thought Kunal was a giant bat, and screamed. The monks thought I was mad.” They also went paragliding at Bir Billing in the Kangra Valley, which sees one accident a month. “Our guide told us that last week a couple went splat into the mountain, breaking their ribs and legs,” says Kunal. “That was petrifying info to get before a jump,” says Cyrus.
Was a doctor at hand the whole time? “We had a doctor who was sick himself, throwing up 10 times a day,” says Kunal. “On the last day, he just left in a truck. I think he aged in nine days; he wasn’t ready for it,” adds Cyrus.
The two fondly remember Hindustan Ka Akhri Dhaba, the last dhaba in Sangla Valley, where they got so much love they didn’t feel like leaving, and the post office in Hikkim—the highest in the world—where they wrote letters to each other, and wept. “The show’s got real heart. They just let us be,” says Kunal. “We would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Tune in to the show every Friday at 8 pm on Fox Life
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