| Masataka Usami with his car on Sunday. Picture by UB Photos |
July 1: A braveheart duo from Japan are halfway through to accomplishing their dream of touring Europe and Asia in their vintage car — a Datsun Bluebird P-510 — all the way from Southampton in the United Kingdom to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
Masataka Usami, a graduate from The University of Tokyo, took over from his junior fellow, Nagai, who had completed the first leg, in Delhi on June 20. Driving solo from the national capital, he arrived in Guwahati on Saturday.
The car, however, was taken to Southampton by ship from Japan. Nagai along with another friend from Japan, Hideki, started the trip from UK on January 31, and reached Delhi via France-Monaco-Italy-Greece-Turkey-Iran-Pakistan in the last week of March.
But what prompted them to take up a tour as adventurous and exhaustive as this?
“My friend Nagai, who had inherited this car from his father, and I wanted to explore Europe and Asia, connect with people, broaden our knowledge and basically get tough. More importantly, we wanted the local people to know more about Japan. The vintage Japanese car, of course, has helped catch people’s attention,” Usami, who had graduated in electronic engineering this March, told The Telegraph today.
The 25-year-old, who will take the Myanmar-Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam route, plans to leave the city tomorrow. He is scheduled to reach Ho Chi Minh City in mid-August.
“Nagai, 23, and his friend, Hideki, had to return to Japan from Delhi in March as their winter vacation was over. Over the two months, the car was kept in a garage of an acquaintance of Nagai in Delhi. I took over about 10 days back and plan to go to Myanmar either through Moreh or through Champhai in Mizoram,” he said.
Why did the friends choose a classic car like the 1968 Datsun Bluebird P-510?
“We are members of the university’s car club. The senior-most living member of the club, Teiichi Hara, 96, who had researched and developed the Datsun Bluebird, motivated us when we disclosed our plan. Besides, this 40-year-old car means a lot to Nagai. It is a legacy passed on to him by his father,” he said.
The itinerary, however, had to be tweaked in Pakistan. “Nagai had to take a detour after the high altitude road crumbled near Islamabad. He was supposed to take the China route from Pakistan,” Usami said. About the ambience in India, Usami said, “From Delhi, I have been through Agra, Kanpur, Varanasi, Patna, Simraha, north Bengal and to Guwahati. The people here are very hospitable.”
“I would love to visit Guwahati again,” the Japanese added.