There are two ways to travel: either alone, or with someone who shares the same passion and interest in travel as you. In Bollywood and television star Rajeev Khandelwal, I found just the right companion – when exploring the North-Eastern region of India.
What do we have in common? Driving long distances over all kinds of terrain. Instatiable stamina to drive. Enjoying meeting all kinds of people. Stopping and appreciating all that in beautiful and wonderful.
I travelled with Rajeev from Dibrugarh in Assam to Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh. We had both done these circuits in the past – he had been there many years back, while I had driven through in 2010. The opportunity to travel together came while shooting for the MyEndeavour series being produced by Ford India and the National Geographic channel. His quest was to explore this region in Ford India’s SUV, the Endeavour alterrain edition. It seemed a natural partnership for all – the terrain, the car, the channel and the adventure seeker.
If you have not travelled to the North-East, put it right on top of your wishlist. Take a sturdy car like the Ford Endeavour so you don’t deny yourself any of the attractions where roads may not be so good. But be prepared for less-than-modest accommodation and food options. But then again, so mesmerized will you be by the North-East that you would hardly be bothered by lack of comforts.
We had our share of mixed fortunes. Dibrugarh was hot, while rain awaited in the neighbouring state. The road beyond Tezu in Arunachal was blocked due to landslides, and we had to cross over the mighty Brahmaputra in a ferry to get to Pasighat. We met wonderful people living simple yet content lives in their beautiful villages. The tea gardens made for delightful landscapes. We were as close to nature as one could imagine, much of it pristine.
Rajeev’s sense of adventure was matched by his fun and friendly personality. You could literally use the word ‘cool’ for him. Even when challenged by long shooting schedules and not-so-easy conditions. Wondering how you could have joined in yourself? Ford India did run a contest in advance, and a lucky winner got to ride along. But you don’t have to feel disappointed – tune in to National Geographic channel in India on June 9, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. for a drive with Rajeev Khandelwal.
I am not telling you what you will get to view on the show. This is just a curtain-raiser; watch this space for more. You can also view more images at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151334477200770.1073741832.108449295769.