KOCHI: At freezing -3 degree, Sajna Ali clutched tightly onto a little piece of rock and scrawled two names on the snow-clad mountain slope. Even as the snow gave way under her feet, she ambled up and continued until the names were etched in the snow. Her friend Tuna Bastin kept recording it. The two women were on an alpine regalia, and were scripting a history of sorts. They had just summited the Khardung La on a scooter, arguably the first women to do so.
One of the highest motorable passes in the world, Khardung La is the dream of any traveller. And so was it for Tuna Bastin who rode from Kochi to Kashmir with Sajna as her pillion. After having braved the elements and negotiating some tricky and dangerous passes, the duo is back in Kerala after their mountain siesta. They ended their 29-day road trip exactly where they had started off on Sept 2, at St. George’s Forane Church, Edappally. With bare minimum luggage and all equipped to handle any contingencies that the vehicle could throw up, the duo started the journey on TVS Torq 125, which Tuna has nicknamed as ‘Nkru’.
“Tuna had told me about this dream ride of hers to Leh. She asked me to accompany her, and I did,” recalls Sajna, who founded Appooppanthaadi, an all-women travel group. “This was an experimental ride. There is a misconception that to traverse the lofty mountains, you need to have a bike. And we wanted to bust the myth as well. The initial plan was to go on a bike. But we then decided to do it on a scooter,” chips in Tuna, who works as an investigation officer at Star Health and Allied Insurance.
Fellow riders and the local people were extremely helpful and considerate, they tell you.
“Only in India will you see language, colour, culture, food, and landscape change every 200 km,” says Sajna. The duo is already flooded with calls on their ride.“You encounter the toughest of situations while you are on the road. The ride will change you. We hope more people get inspired and just undertake the ride,” she adds. Sajna is all gearing up to write a book on the journey.