Roadtripping 1,500 kms during the pandemic

In the month of June 2021 most of my family, friends and relatives back home in Bhadohi, Uttar Pradesh, were down with Covid. Ever since then, the trip to my hometown was a much-awaited journey for my eldest sister Sonal Srivastava and me as we were eagerly waiting to meet the family.

But before we would visit them, we had to wait for Covid cases to drop significantly and when they did, we choose to make a road trip since it was the safest way to home with minimum contact with others. More so because we had to travel through three states – Maharashtra (Pune) to Uttar Pradesh (Bhadohi my hometown) via Madhya Pradesh (Indoor & Jabalpur), covering 1,527.4 km in three days.  

Pune to Bhadohi (Uttar Pradesh), covering 1,527.4 kms by car

The trip to my hometown is approximately 1,527.4 kms. With two or more drivers it is easy to cover the distance in 27 hours of non-stop travel. But as my sister Sonal was the sole driver, we had the distance split into three days.

1st Day – we covered the distance of 592.7 kms from Pune to Indore, which is approximately 12 hours drive.

2nd Day – we travelled from Indore to Jabalpur (MP). We covered 506.1 kms in 10 hours.

3rd Day – Jabalpur (MP) to Bhadohi (UP). 428.6 km, drive of 9 hours.

Memorable travel experience

Before we started, Sonal got the car serviced to ensure our safety on the highway. I watched her drive through heavy rainfall, ghats, and blind turns was an empowering moment for me, which reminded me of the freedom I have and why making sound choices in life is essential.

Apparently, at one time, I was much concerned with the safety when we had to drive through the parade of 200+ cows and buffaloes that lasted for 2-3 kms in Madhya Pradesh for some unknown reasons. We were stuck for nearly an hour among them, and cattle paid no heed to the car honks.  

On the flip side, I was baffled looking at animal cruelty and unmasked people on the roads. I don’t know which is better between the two and whom to complain about it. And yet, it is necessary to take responsibility towards oneself first and then others.

Must-Have Safety Measures for safe travel during the pandemic

Travelling can be pocket friendly even during the pandemic, thanks to innovative hygiene methods, internet and app developers. We carried alcohol-based sanitiser – wipes, hand liquids and sprays. We also carried Peesafe to maintain personal hygiene while visiting public toilets.

With the help of apps, we shopped in local markets, ate out and planned our trip with minimum contact with others. One of the must-have safety apps Aarogya Setu that kept us informed of registered Covid patients in a radius of 500 meters to 10 kilometres from us.

Next was Google Maps for navigation that guided us during the road trip. We do not have to roll down the window and ask a stranger for directions. To plan your travel, accommodation apps like MakeMyTrip is good for finding budgeted accommodations. In fact, we found apps like Zomato and Swiggy useful as they listed out the local dishes of the place with the restaurant reviews and ratings.

Day 1 : Pune To Indore | 22nd July 2021
“Turtle Wins with Flying Colours: Slow & Steady = Safety.” Photo credit: Kavita Srivastava

We started from Pune on 22nd July 2021 around 6:30 am. It was just the two of us (my sister Sonal and me). The picture is of Kharadi, Pune. The rain was so heavy that we had no other option but to follow the car before us.

“Thumbs Up: Wish You Luck”. Photo credit: Kavita Srivastava

Nature’s way of wishing us a safe and secure journey. A white cow in the field symbolises auspicious and purity (referring to good hygiene) during travel.

The dried bushes and fresh green colour of uneven grass and rejuvenated tall trees ask you to drive steady since the road ahead might be bumpy.

 On the left, the broad highway gets narrower as we near the mountains in the right photo. The Ghats is where the blind turn starts, and the risk increases as the descent of the cloud. And yet, a few ambitious drivers love to take the risk of overtaking from the left side! It looks like they are an ardent believer of the slogan “Dar ka Aage Jeeta Hai” – but personally speaking, it is a sheer display of carelessness for oneself and other people on the road.

Day 2: Indore to Jabalpur | 23rd July 2021
Thanks for letting me cross the road! Photo credit: Kavita Srivastava

The speed limit in the forest area of Nauradehi Forest Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh, is 30 kmph, but I was saddened to see that only a few people follow it. I saw nearly 5-7 carcasses of wild animals that have bit hit by speeding vehicles left to rot on the roadside. Most of them were wild dogs, monkeys, jackals and domestic cattle.

The ‘unmasked smiles’. Photo credit: Kavita Srivastava

The unmasked young boys from the nearest villages from the highway pose for a photo as they watch over their grazing goats. The rain does not stop them from enjoying themselves. But it raises the concern of safety during Covid.

Where’s your mask?. Photo credit: Kavita Srivastava

The picture is of a temple built on the roadside of a busy street of Sagar in Madhya Pradesh. Small hawkers are selling garlands, diyas, incenses and other puja necessities.

To my left, a young boy is wearing a mask – pulled to his chin. The older man in the centre of the picture has his masked pull down too; while another gentleman is without a mask. The question is, how is a pulled down mask helping them or anyone around them during the pandemic?

Vaccinated & ready to do business as usual. Photo credit: Kavita Srivastava

Madhya Pradesh has vaccinated the highest number of people in India. This photo is of a market in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. Most people I see are without masks. I do not know whether they are vaccinated. Still, one thing that powerfully conveys a message is that many of us are irresponsible.

Who let the cattle out? Photo credit: Kavita Srivastava

The photo is of Rehli in Madhya Pradesh. I deliberately shot this picture in black and white to show the parade of unattended cattle by their caretakers. As I remember, the parade lasted for almost 2 kms for some unknown reasons.

Day 3: Jabalpur to Bhadohi | 24th July 2021
Who shares more burden, man or animal? Photo credit: Kavita Srivastava

The photo is of a busy market in a district of Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. I noticed a horse carriage overloaded with sacks. It looks heavy as the horse struggles to pull the carriage with the excessive load. The man on the top of the bags controls the horse, forcing him to move forward.

I can’t imagine, what is worse, people with no mask during the pandemic or animal cruelty, but I guess apathy seems to run through our veins.

The woman behind the wheel – Sonal Srivastava. Photo credit: Kavita Srivastava

This trip would not have been possible without my eldest sister Sonal who drove us to our hometown with safety in spite of bad weather conditions. A big thanks to her. I loved travelling with her. The road trip offered me a different experience this time.

The road trip uplifted my moods. As we drove, the beauty of nature rejuvenated me. The time spent together during the journey deepened our trust in each other. For a change, we bickered less and learnt to listen to each other more. Her planning, organising, and budgeting skills inspired me to empower my life with as much dedication and determination as she does.

Contributor: Kavita Srivastava

About our Writing Program Student
Kavita Srivastava (35) holds a degree in MBA. She’s an avid reader of business strategies, digital marketing strategies, mythology, mystic and fine arts with a focus on content marketing. In her spare time, she loves to spend time with nature and animals. Some day, she wishes to adopt a puppy with whom she can go hiking and jogging. Currently, she’s pursing a career in digital content marketing.

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