Travel is for those who love to go beyond the wall. While not everyone is capable of pushing boundaries, we have two very enterprising road trip enthusiasts with us, that we’d like all of you to know about. They’ve only proven that adventure has no gender! Time and again, we’ve seen their expeditions where they’ve faced challenges, overcome those and moved onto the next road trip. Without further ado, allow us to introduce Nidhi Salgame Tiwari and Col. S Malik a.k.a Col Satty, the road trip pros who started WBB-Wander Beyond Boundaries.
WBB was co-founded by Nidhi Salgame Tiwari (the 1st woman to drive a trans-continental distance from Delhi to London and the 1st Indian to drive to the Pole of Cold in north-eastern Siberia) and Col. S Malik, SM, Retd. (an ex. Army man having served for 24 years with many years of experience in extreme terrain driving in Kashmir, Sikkim, Congo and beyond). WBB is a coming together of many years of being outdoor, of adventure, driving and expedition experience.
While we do know of their intensive road trip portfolio and expeditions, we wanted to get to know them better and also get their expert advice on all things related to road trips. So come find out what they have to say.
Let’s Talk! 8 Questions on Road trips
1. What made you want to explore paths that were less popular?
Col.Satty: It is the sheer challenge of exploring new places. It gives me the time and space to reflect within myself and grow in all spheres of life.
Nidhi Salgame: I think for me it’s the challenge to push boundaries. From a very young age, it’s been about wanting to outdo the last road trip, at some point in my head. Growing up as far as the expeditions are concerned, one kept trying to see how far I can go. I tried to push that envelop, check my threshold, both within myself as a person and also as someone who could see what is humanly possible.
2. What are some of the challenges that you face on the journey?
Col Satty: If you ask me what are the challenges that you face on a journey, I’d say it is about facing the unknown and facing it fair and square. About the adaptation and adaptability that I have, the unknown is the weather and the climate. Most importantly, it is the psychological conditioning that I have to go or undergo based on the external as well as the internal challenges that I’m going to face.
Nidhi Salgame: I think it’s primarily the uncertainty and what that uncertainty often generates, you know, that feeling that, well, this IS it! I might as well give up and just turn back or, you know, um, I just can’t. That ‘I can’t’ comes up so often be it with food that gets challenging, be it the weather or be it with the living conditions as that’s not certain when you’re on such trips. So, I think it’s about working with that mental boundary, and that’s the biggest challenge one faces.
3. Which has been the toughest drive till date?
Col Satty: If I talk about the toughest drives of my life? As a teenager, 16 year old, five kids traveled or cycled from Delhi to Kathmandu in the peak of summers. No support from anyone, completely self-reliant and mind you, those were just normal atlas cycles. However, coming of age, my most difficult drives were in Congo, a country without roads where an extensive four by four had to be used to go to places which were completely remote. No roads at all, just alignments. They were not even vehicles on that road. They were kind of remote but the good part was that we could reach places which they had never seen any kind of troops or UN troops per se.
Nidhi Salgame: I believe that there’s a very strong connect between mind and body, and that’s what creates the level of challenge. So I guess your mood, the emotional state, all of that matters when you’re on a particular road. And on India’s first overland solo to the Pole of cold in North Eastern Siberia, I think I saw myself at the edge of that threshold that I thought I had to be able to endure. With rough weather and everything that was against me, all the odds stacked up against me and also I was alone. I was able to see myself in a very naked sense and, that was frightening to begin with. But it also was an acknowledgment and now it’s become a milestone for my life. I look back at that and when I’m challenged, I guess that’s where the energy comes from, to know that one has endured what one has.
4. Which has been your most fun road trip?
Col Satty: I’d say certainly it was a, our drive from Indore to Leh-Ladakh and back. This was simply because of the fact that it was with my buddies. There was so much laughter, fun, music, and having a good time throughout the day. Not a moment of mundane activities throughout those 16 days.
Nidhi Salgame: On most of our drives fun happens by the way. It’s more like a byproduct than something you plan for. Since you go through such tough conditions that you end up bonding as a team and then these memories and friendships stay with you for life. So one I can think of is Delhi to London. That was really a lot of fun. She excitedly adds, “You know, while I was the sole driver, I had two friends along and when they were there, on some evenings we went pub hopping, speaking to strangers, speaking in Hindi when nobody could understand I think that was so much fun, so much mischief. I think that those memories stay with me till date.”
5. How important is it to plan ahead?
Nidhi Salgame: Planning is what makes or breaks your journey simply. Firstly because, I guess being prepared is the first virtue of being outdoors, otherwise everything can seem like a bane and completely uncalled for. Second, if you’ve planned for it, you’ve prepared for it both physically and mentally then. Any and everything that comes by feels like a challenge and it’s fun to take it on and face it head on. So I think planning not just organises what your schedule is going to be like. It also tells you what hardships you face and what to expect and all of that. It also prepares you mentally, and I think that’s very important for any journey.
6. Why did you opt to conduct virtual classrooms on your travels?
Col Satty: While it is true that both of us are very interested in expeditions, which are undoubtedly very challenging. We see ourselves inclined towards our love for Education and outdoor education in particular. So since they are moved around so much over a period of time, we realised that a large population of the country does not see the places that we visit. So the idea of virtual classrooms, and we call them expeditions for education, basically is to take school kids on virtual journeys along with us so that they are able to see, feel, observe, and learn for themselves about the places that it may not be possible for them to go.
7. How can we break the myth around Women drivers?
Nidhi Salgame: I believe that driving is gender neutral. There’s nothing male or female about it, simply because it’s a skill and the more you practice the skill, the better you are at it. Unfortunately, women have traditionally not had as much of an opportunity to be able to practice and hone that skill. This is more so because we mostly come from one car homes to two car homes, and even with families out on a vacation, it’s the men who are mostly driving. So I guess, given this as the premise, I think that itself is a mid breaker; Women are as good, if not better. Men are as good, if not worse or better.
8. One piece of advice for fellow off-roaders/travel junkies/road trippers
Col Satty: One important piece of advice that I give to my fellow travel or off roaders is the aspect of unlearning. Unless we are willing to unlearn what we have earlier learned, we will not be able to learn much because we will always be bound by the earlier issues which have housed within us.
Nidhi Salgame: Well, for me, travel is an experience and is a kind of a growth, in fact. So whenever you head to a new place, unless you let down your guard, be willing to become vulnerable, be able to absorb stuff that’s around you, experiences around you, feel the place; I don’t think there’s any learning that’s possible. So I guess it’s about just leaving behind prejudices and assumptions and presumptions and just experiencing the place for what it is.
Well, it was a pleasure interacting with them and it’ll be an experience of your life as well if you get to join them on their expeditions. The most immediate one that’s taking place is the Trans-Siberian route road trip. A very exciting trip awaits all those who are looking to take a long break and road trip.
Wander Beyond Boundaries have teamed up recently to reach more avid road trippers who can experience adventure road trips curated by this dynamic duo – Nidhi Salgame and Col. Satty Malik. Head to our packages section to see the entire listing of road trips by WBB and let’s road trip beyond boundaries!