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28 states in 51 days: this mother-son duo drove 16,800km to see Incredible India

Finding the time and energy to travel while working a full-time job is hard enough. But Dr Mitra Satheesh, Assistant Professor at Government Ayurveda College in Kochi found both and more during the pandemic, when she set out for a cross country trip with her 10-year-old son in March this year, leaving her husband and 15-year-old daughter with special needs at home.

“My daughter is physically and mentally challenged, so a long journey through different terrains, temperature and climatic conditions, is difficult for her. She, like her father, doesn't enjoy this kind of exploratory travel.” She’s quick to dismiss parental guilt. “Having a special child doesn’t mean sacrificing my dreams. Whenever I travel, I ensure she’s safe and during the pandemic, she was safer at my mother’s place where everyone was staying in a closed environment. I have never felt the guilt of travelling solo as I believe it is not wrong to spend a few days every year to fulfil my dreams.”

With the support of her family, she fulfilled her dream of driving 16,800km across all 28 Indian states and six Union Territories, in a span of 51 days, with her 10-year-old son.

How it all began

The first seeds of a solo trip were sown after a trip to Europe in 2019 was shelved. “A friend suggested a solo trip to Bhutan. Exploring the villages by myself, I realised that reading about places and experiencing them in real life was completely different. The trip evoked my desire to explore the world,” says Mitra.

A road trip seemed like the best way to experience a place, up, close and personal. The initial plan was to go on a drive with her friends in June 2020. “Back then, my driving comfort zone was limited to 100km.” But with the onset of the pandemic, the plan fell apart. And yet, Mitra’s desire to travel couldn’t be dampened. “I went on a 450km roundtrip on my own from Kochi to Thiruvananthapuram in May-June last year, to see if I could drive at a stretch. Over the next three weeks, I did three such trips. After that, I headed to Hampi in September, covering 900km in 13 hours—my longest drive.”


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