Meet Neeru Gandhi (62), Monicka Chanana (54) and Pratibha Sabharwal (62) who are quite popular now as ‘Nanis on the highway.’
In 2016, they set out on their first journey to cover Delhi to Rameshwaram by road via five states - Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
The 4,440-kilometre journey took them 29 days, with 23 stopovers. But much more time went into the meticulous planning of the journey. The trip came with its set of challenges - flat tyres, dealing with cops, and their car breaking down but the women overcame all the obstacles together. The women even learnt how to handle and operate high-tech gadgets like digital cameras, selfie sticks and dongles.
Talk about driving and the first thing that Neeru Gandhi says is that Indians still can’t see a woman driving. “While [we were] driving on the highway, young guys used to make fun of us. They honked deliberately and gave us looks, as if they had never seen a woman driving.
Some of these guys also tried to overtake our car from the wrong side, but we managed to ignore them and continue our journey. This made me realise that it must be really difficult for young women to drive,” says Gandhi, who is a homemaker.
Their first trip came with its set of challenges — flat tyres, dealing with cops, rash truck drivers, and their car breaking down. However, these women tackled all the obstacles together. They even learnt how to handle and operate gadgets like digital cameras, selfie sticks, tripods and dongles. Their stories are full of interesting experiences and struggles from the trip.
The women were met with shock and surprise as they made their way across the length of the country. For instance, once a hotel front desk executive in Firozabad was shocked to learn there was no driver accompanying the women.
"Driver park kar lega (Driver will park your car)", the executive told the women as they checked in.
"Hum hi driver hai (we are the drivers)", exclaimed the women.
The grannies made many friends during their journeys as they drove through unfamiliar terrain and highways. And of course, like all girls, went crazy shopping (they had been shopping so much on their trip that when they ran out of space in the car, they had the package sent home!). Lastly, as a message to other women, Monicka shares, “Have faith in yourself. If you don’t show confidence in yourself, your family won’t show confidence in you. So be brave, be bold and take over the world.”
Their journey was documented on a blog run by their family. Here are some highlights of their journey so far