High on brutal, cold drives

Nidhi Tiwari shares her experiences of becoming the first Indian to drive to the coldest inhabited place on Earth – Oymyakon

Published: 24th January 2017 10:15 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th January 2017 02:59 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Nidhi Tiwari, born and raised in Bengaluru had her first outdoor adventure at the age of seven when she trekked to Antaragange and cried all the way. Now at the of 36, the mother of two is an extreme terrain driver, who on December 17, 2016, became the first Indian to drive to the coldest inhabited place on Earth.

High on Adventure
In 2015, she drove 23,800 km from Delhi to London in 97 days with her friends as a part of an initiative under Women Beyond Borders(WBB). WBB is an organisation founded by Nidhi Tiwari and Smita Rajaram,for women drivers to document overland journeys and observe how mobility has affected empowerment of women.
“After accomplishing a challenge, I look for a more difficult one,” says Nidhi on why she chose to drive solo to Oymyakon in Siberia. Wearing shoes double her feet size to squeeze in three layers of socks, this road journey also made her the first Indian to drive through the Road of Bone or R504 Kolyma Highway in Russia, that is one of the most dangerous roads.

The journey was 5,080 km long, but more than the roads, Nidhi says, the prime challenge was the extremely “brutal cold” temperature. “Average temperature on this drive was -50’c and the lowest that I saw was -59’c,” she says.
No more than five to 10 minutes of body exposure could be tolerated. Acute pain, numbness and tingling were common sensations felt on the journey. She was wearing the warmest feather jacket.  
Driving 14 hours a day on a “treacherous terrain,” required a lot of concentration, mental stability, stamina and time, she says.

Driving for a Purpose
On her trip to Oymyakon, Nidhi engaged in a Skype conversation with 5,000 children of fifteen schools in India, five of which are in Bengaluru.
“Adventure is a rich medium which can be used for discipline and education,” she says.
The schools partnered with Nidhi as a part of her organisation’s programme. “The whole idea was to tell the children that when you dream, a journey is required. The journey will not be a bed of roses but one that will be full of uncertainties that needs to be overcome,” she adds.
“I will now be going to these schools to exchange learnings with the children,” she further states. Nidhi has not yet decided her next expedition because the Oymyakon journey is “just sinking in”.  

How She Started
Ever since her second trek to Antaragange, Nidhi has always been an outdoor person. She moved to extreme-terrain driving after her marriage and specialised in it by practicing it for a year.  She was a member of a Bengaluru group called ‘Jeep Girls’ in 2007. Her first long-drive was to the Himalayas with her family the same year

Extreme Terrain Driving
She has been into hardcore extreme terrain driving since 2014. Each expedition has to bring in a new extremity, says Nidhi. On her solo driving Delhi-London expedition that made her the first woman to have driven from India, the challenge was in terms of distance and magnitude.
“But this journey from Yakutsk to Magadan was by far the most toughest one,” she adds.
She owns a Xylo car, which suits her best to drive within the country. Her expeditions are mostly sponsored by car companies such as Mahindra and Porsche.
Mum Talks
Nidhi  has reached her home-city on Tuesday from Delhi doing what she does best, driving. It was a 36-hour long drive.
The mother of two will be giving a talk on Saturday at Atta Galatta at 3 pm as a part of ‘Mum Talks’, organised by Mums and Stories.
Mums and Stories is a community driven initiative where true stories of mothers and children are shared. Nidhi will talk about the challenges of being an adventure-spirited mother.


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