Despite the fact that I often travel solo in the country and absolutely enjoy it, I am a firm believer that road trips with friends are aberrations one must indulge in every once in a while. These are the ones where friends play a big part and compliment the trip perfectly. My thoughts were corroborated earlier this year, when Hersh, Sagar, Rushaad and I went on a self-driving 4-day trip along coastal Maharashtra, as part of the ‘Wheels of Wander’ campaign by Maruti Suzuki Alto and Outlook Traveller.
My three companions, who’ve known each other since childhood, were the ideal example of how a road trip cements the bond amongst friends and also gives them a chance to rediscover their friendship. New memories are built and old ones resurface with ease. The time together is priceless when stories from the past come rushing back, and leg pulling is in plenty. There was not a moment on the trip that was minus fun and laughter. Of course, there were times of deep reflection and silence as well, a clear sign of comfort between old friends. Natusrally, there were moments of disagreements and mock fights, but soon everyone would bounce back to the task at hand – having fun!
Then there was the charm of discovering a new place together and mixing up preferences and styles of travel. None of us had travelled on this route before, so there was always excited anticipation about what would lie ahead. To that, coastal Maharashtra delivered well. We started from Pune and wended our way south towards Ganpatipule and ended up in Tarkarli. On the way, unassuming fishing hamlets and untreaded beaches made for great pit stops. While some destinations exuded an easygoing rustic charm, some parts were adventurous.
We drove on smooth grey highways, stopped at nameless beaches, bumped along country-roads; saw unsung forts while exploring the best of coastal Maharashtra. The local Malvan food was the highlight for a couple of foodies amongst us. But it was water sports where the taste of travel converged for all four. Coastal Maharashtra offers water sports on a number of beaches, but Tarkarli stands out amongst them. The thrill of being on a jet-ski or trying snorkelling in the Arabian Sea is memories that we will cherish forever. Even if someone was nervous at first, the incessant leg pulling and jokes eased the moment and melted the tension away.
Being together on the trip had a number of practical benefits too. There was always someone to share the wheel with. We drove for over 500 km over the three days. Even when the roads were less than desirable, there was no chance of getting tired. We stopped at a number of places that were off the map and with hardly anyone around. With each other for company, we felt safe, despite driving a little late into the evening. Also, there was never a dull moment. Amongst the four of us, there was always someone to talk to and share the sights with.
While I still enjoy the solitude and self-discovery of solo travel, an all boys trip is defining in terms of fun and re-bonding. All I needed was a firsthand experience of this.