It all started with my invitation for #HerDrive from Mahindra, XUV300 Camp Out edition. What could be better than a camp-out under the stars in Khandala and that too with an all-lady entourage to break the monotony of everyday life!?
So, with my bags packed over the weekend, I rushed to the Mahindra Dealership in Andheri, Mumbai and met the Mahindra Team there along with all the ladies who were participating in the campout. Some were existing Mahindra owners and some came for the experience, but the enthusiasm and positivity were absolutely electrifying. Ladies of all age groups could be witnessed, be it the one that comes with her 8-year-old daughter, one with her mother and others with their girl-gangs.
Then, after a quick briefing by Ryan from Mahindra Adventure Team, we all took a group picture (ritual!) before finally embarking on our adventure to Khandala. Ryan led the cavalcade, with two media cars behind him driven by a fellow journalist, and I. Following us were the participants and Alex from Mahindra Team at the tail to ensure we left no (wo)man behind, kind of our own Marine code. Elisha from Gul Panag’s team, the photographer/videographer for the event, gave me company in the car, while Gul Panag could sadly not join us due to another pressing engagement elsewhere. Thus, our cavalcade set course.
“Can you imagine the kind of excitement we all had?
A cavalcade of MAHINDRA XUV300s, all the cars were driven by women.”
People all along the route were awestruck seeing the all-women-caravan. We had a walkie-talkie each for every car to coordinate and finally stopped mid-way to refuel our stomachs. But alas, we were a bit late according to the itinerary so we had to grab a quick bite and rush to Khandala so that we could make it to our destination on time. A left turn from the highway took us to the beautiful camp-out venue, and for added fun required a bit of off-roading on the way. It was all dark by the time we reached and apart from our cars, there were few other vehicles on the road.
At one point,
Elisha says, “Broski! Do you see all those taillights, it is looking so crazy and the best part is that all women are driving those cars.”
Such an empowering moment for us, I felt so proud of myself and of every single woman who had come on this trip that Yes! Not only men could do such stuff, but we can too!
I am glad Elisha accompanied me as we gelled up so well. We cracked a lot of jokes while driving and I figured she loved cars, which was quite apparent from her extensive knowledge. We became good friends in that small span of time and even realized were actually neighbours too. Soon, we all finally reached the camp. There was one more group that had driven from Pune and had reached before us. As we were a little late, we directly rushed for the off-roading on trails, which is exclusively accessible to the people who are camping at the property. Now, the cavalcade was even bigger as the Pune group had also joined us. There was a different track for off-roading and we had 3-4 gates on that trail, with two people from Mahindra team at each gate. We opened our car windows to enjoy the fresh burst of air and off we went on our trail.
It was a very happy and calm feeling, I could smell the grass, it was a little cold out there, I could see the stars, girls were coming out from the sunroof and cheering and the best part was that everybody was enjoying it. I must say it was a pretty amazing experience to drive on those trails.
After finishing the trail we all came back to the camp location and got different tents allotted to us. There was music, bonfire, games, food, and most importantly the best possible company. Everybody was enjoying until late at night. Tired, after such a thrilling day, I formally retired to sleep in my tent. Later that night, there were some really strong winds, to the point that I was scared my tent was gonna rip off! I heard somebody warning us that the tent was about to fly away, but the outstanding Mahindra team was there for us at mid-night also, tightening those ropes that were getting loose. We could finally sleep in peace after help.
The next day, everybody woke up around 6-7 am. It was such a lovely view in the morning, away from the city hustle, with the sunrise, a little bit of chill, lake, and greenery all around. I was glad that I decided to come on this short weekend drive and campout. I could not have afforded to miss this experience. Quickly, we all freshened up and had our breakfast.
Post breakfast, a cute little girl around 4 years old, started distributing gems to everybody and enquiring from them the colour they wished to receive. It made me miss my childhood. It was so awesome that people could get their kids also with them, as everything was safe and comfortable for kids as well.
And the last session before leaving was – “THAR Driving Experience”
Also, I might add – the most thrilling experience too! The team formed two groups and took us to the location where we were gonna get a lesson on how to drive a Thar and experience it as well. On reaching the location we got a briefing from the Mahindra Adventure Team on how to drive a THAR. There was a small mountain and we had to drive there. I was a little nervous but also very excited and really wanted to experience it. All we had to do was to put the transmission in second gear and just handle the steering wheel, nothing else. The car was driving itself. There was a scary moment where I took a turn and the car’s weight shifted to the driver’s side, making me panic for a while, but Alex from the team asked me not to worry and just drive. Once I completed it, I was head over heels and wanted to drive again immediately. Everybody took turns and then we all got back to the camp, packed our stuff and it was time to leave. Everyone shared their experiences, bid farewell to each other and formed a final cavalcade before leaving.
“AND A LIFETIME EXPERIENCE TO REMEMBER”