The Telegraph
Thursday , May 10 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999

India on wheels in 80 days
- 62-yr-old steers from Kargil to Kanyakumari on a Nano

They look like the pleasant couple-next-door, but Thomas Chacko and wife Geetha are truly special.

The 62-year-old man from Kochi embarked on an 80-day, 25,000km road trip across India on a Tata Nano, wife by his side, from Mumbai on May 3. He reached Ranchi on Wednesday.

The Chackos have a travel itinerary that is — to put it mildly — a travel magazine’s delight. He will cover all state capitals and Union territories, as well as India’s extreme points such as Kanyakumari in the south, Dwarka in the west, Kargil in the north, Khardung La, the highest motorable road in the world, Nagpur, the geographical centre of India, among others.

Chacko, a company secretary by profession, is a man of many parts. He used to be a biking buff, loves watching Formula One races, has visited over 26 countries, written a novel and a coffee table book.

For the man who’s been there and done that, this trip however is special.

“I am taking this huge trip in my country with my wife by my side. My family members, including brother, daughter and son will join us at different points to give us company. It’s an amazing feeling,” smiled the sprightly man.

He added that he had wanted to hit the Indian roads for a long time. When he told the Tatas, they readily agreed to sponsor his trip.

“Nano is the pride of Indian auto engineering. So it is appropriate that our pan-India drive is on a Nano,” he says of his car painted a bright sunshine yellow.

He said their clothes were stacked in the rear of the little car, as well as two separate tyres and cans of petrol in case of an emergency on the road.

“I did about 650km on Day One. Due to road conditions and traffic jams, I aim for a realistic 300 to 350km per day. It is a pleasure to drive on highways, but city roads are a pain,” Chacko grimaced.

He recalled that his love for motoring started as a youth when he raced bikes “behind my father’s back”. “Then, I won a race and my picture was flashed in newspapers. The secret was out!” he laughed.

“I really enjoy his passion for driving,” wife Geetha smiled. “It is quality time spent with each other, our children and other family members. Besides, we see so much of India. My daughter will join my husband from Calcutta at which point I will leave him to return to Kochi,” Geetha said.

The couple will leave Ranchi for Calcutta on Thursday. The next few milestones are Guwahati, Hyderabad, the south, Kanyakumari and then Gujarat and Rajasthan.