The dream started when, living in Delhi, I decided to buy a car. An expat living in India, who’s been selling holidays from the days when these were the only cars that were available (well apart from Fiats and really, there’s no comparison) were a/c or non a/c Ambassadors, it just had to be one of these iconic vehicles. Modelled on the original Morris Oxford (Series 3 model for the petrol heads out there) with their unmistakeable shape and style, archetypical maybe, but anything else just wasn’t going to cut the mustard.
The search began and after several months, just as I was about to give up hope and get a modern machine, an Ambassador was offered on an Expat Forum. I phoned them up, called my driver and shot over to the address quicker than a rat up a drainpipe.
In this image and therefore brand conscious age, as soon as Mercedes, Audis and BMW’s became available in India, Ambassadors were dropped quicker than a hotcake but for expats, they are still the one to have. Most drivers had gone the same way as the owners with swanky cars, preferring to drive sleek designer brands and I often wonder what they think of a car worth more than they will earn in 100 lifetimes but, and here is where I dropped lucky, my driver was old school and LOVED ambassadors and this one was/is a beaut. Built in 2006 An Ambassador Avigo, the classic shape, but in silver champagne, with cream leather seats, original style dashboard, a stereo and most importantly, power steering we fell in love simultaneously.
We took her out for a test drive which should have lasted 10 mins but Dhiraj was in his element and it wasn’t until 45 mins later (and we’d had three panicked calls from the owner) that we arrived back only to discover there was a queue. Four other couples had turned up for a test drive. Dhiraj screeched to a halt outside the driveway, turned to me and implored, ‘Madam, you must buy this car, you must.” I looked at him and then looked at the queue, the concerned face of the owner and back to Dhiraj’s desperate face. She was massively over-priced but she was sexy as hell and I just couldn’t resist. ‘I will,’ I stated and with that, beaming with excitement and pride, we drove into the driveway and offered full asking price. She was ours. I say ours, Dhiraj became most proprietorial. On his days off, I would drive myself. I didn’t know at the time, but he would keep strict mileage records and one morning arrive at the house with a declaration, “Madam, you have been driving my car!’ From that day on, he refused to take day’s off if I was in town. On releasing him from duty in the evenings, he would pretend to go home, but sneak into the staff quarters and watch and wait. The minute he heard me venture downstairs, he would appear more quickly than the afore mentioned rat up a drain-pipe admonish me and declare that he would take me wherever I wanted to go. Invariably this just might be for a drive, I love driving and she was a babe, so much so, she became known as The Babe.
Ever since then, they seek me out. I arrived in Puri and promptly found a driver with an Ambassador, I spent a summer in Landour where most of the taxis are Ambassadors, I am drawn to them and they to me, inexplicably.
Then followed the idea, the dream. I wanted to combine my two passions and drive her around India. What could be more fun? I dreamed of doing the 4K’s, Kashmir to Kutch to Kanyakumari to Kohima, blogging as I went. But then some other people showed an interest and an idea was born, why not make it a trip with friends and like-minded adventurers? And then I met Mike who specialises in road trips around India and beyond. The idea was floated, discussed, dissected and planned and the K2K was born!
We decided that as most people do the Kashmir to Kanyakumari route, we would traverse from west to east from Kutch to Kohima, and then the idea developed, why not also make it from festival to festival? And thus, the K2K was born, a 28 day trip that will be operating in 2020 and again in 2021. Traveling in iconic vehicles to off beat destinations, now that sounds like fun to me!
Here are a few of the highlights:
- A 2000 mile drive in Ambassadors or on Enfield motorbikes across Seven states
- UNESCO world heritage sites
- Visiting private classic car collections
- National parks for wildlife safaris, not just tigers, but lions and wolves too!
- The erotic temples at Khajuraho
- The spectacular riverside destination that is Maheshwar
- Experiences the unique art forms from Bihar
- The evening aarti at Varanasi & morning boat ride
- Tea tasting in Darjeeling
- Kaziranga National Park in search of the one-horned rhino
- The unique lifestyle of the tribals from Majuli River Island
- The Hornbill Festival in Nagaland.
- Local encounters
- Meeting extraordinary people
- A few surprises along the way!