Drive With SOUL: A herd of Wild Beasts Tamed By Passionate Owners
We were tribesmen first, bonding over a bonfire on starlit nights under open skies, dancing to the orchestra of wild brooks and collective laughter emerging from the deep bowels of Souls celebrating the bounties of mother earth.
Then we evolved and things got complicated, nations, religions, caste, community, and language all played a role to divide while we thought we are evolving as a species. No more. The baser instincts to belong to a tribe are back and we long to belong to a tribe that disenfranchises us from our passions and forces to follow rules that make us deaf to the rhythm of the heart.
No more!! like Bob Dylan said “For the times they, they are a-changin”, the tribesmen instinct are back and the urge to merge with a group that shares a common passion is so strong that men are forging bonds that are stronger than the ones that were ossified over millennium.
From photography groups to hiking in the Himalayas, a new breed of tribesmen (and women) is taking center stage and this 26th January weekend I met one such tribe. The S.O.U.L or the Safari Owners United League is a tribe of very passionate owners, drivers, and wide-eyed lovers of a beast that they are so proud to take everywhere. I met some very passionate S.O.U.L riders like the group leader Mr. Atulay Nehra a lawyer by profession, who was leading the tribe from Delhi border all the way to Jim Corbett National Park. Incidentally, Mr. Nehra is now with his third Safari and still owns his Safari number two. His wife is also an equally passionate driver and loves to take Safari when she has some spare time from raising her three boys ( A husband and two sons )
But it was no ordinary convoy, every single Safari was given a numbered sticker and they moved in a sequence to avoid anybody taking a wrong route. But it had a big advantage as you need to drive in the discipline in your designated spot in the convoy there were no attempts to overtake, honk or unleash the dark side of the force. The #DriveWithSOUL sure knows how to tame the beast and use his muscle on the meandering roads.
The bonhomie of the group was visible at the breakfast stop when I actually got to interact with some of them for the first time. It was obvious that the only common bond in this tribe is their love for their Safari, otherwise what is the reason for a Lawyer, a Doctor, an Automobile Engineer, a code jockey, a tech support executive and other motley crew to come together and talk nothing but Safari. It is only in such a passionate group you see drivers cleaning their Safaris just before hitting a dirt track. Well as Mandy a young Owners said “ शौक भी कोई चीज़ होती है (Shoq bhee koi cheez hotee hai) or there is something called passion” Mandy has done more than 135,000, in his Safari in less than 3 years and still feel he does not get enough time to drive.!
But the #DriveWithSOUL was not just about riding the beast it was also about brotherhood and family time. As most of the S.O.U.L members who joined the drive are family men and it was nice to see moms, kids, and even granny’s coming on the drive. Contrary to the popular stereotype that the SUVs are driven by men I found enough women driving the beast around to make you wonder who makes all these stereotypes. On a lighter note the women who tamed their husband may have found the thoroughly bred beast The Safari, from the stud farm of Tatas as easy as Mary’s little lamb to take places.
The evening was spent on the banks of Kosi in the resort reliving the old days singing and dancing around a bonfire. But I retired early as the next morning we had planned an early morning safari to the Core Zone of Jim Corbett National Park. But most animals were hiding in the biting cold and we came back with just a few pictures of Deer, Wild Boar, Pea Fowl and the mandatory pug-marks that every guide to a tiger park shows to visitors whenever they are unable to spot a tiger.
The highlight of the day was our trip to the riverbed that all the S.O.U.L drivers were excited to reach as it tested the offloading ability of their Safari, whom they fondly refer to as “The Beast “This was not the first outing of the group, who have gathered in past also to take their Safaris to various places and trips together. From a journey to the Sariska National Park in Rajasthan to a Paratha trip to the Internationally World Famous Murthal Dhabas on NH1, they have indulged in some cool trips in past. But this drive to Jim Corbett is the first real long drive with 2 nights stay in a luxurious resort on the banks of river Kosi bordering Jim Corbett National Park, the home of Royal Bengal Tigers.
The riverfront looked like the playground herd of thirsty Wild Elephants of Corbett, who assemble on the banks of Ramganga River to quench their thirst. During this playtime, I realized why the beast needs to be tamed, while the Safari is a very powerful SUV you still cannot leave it on its own with all its muscle. It needs a skillful driver to get the best out of the machine.
Wait for my second post in this series when I will share some interesting anecdotes and more pictures follow our #DriveWithSOUL to Jim Corbett National Park in a convoy of 24 Tata Safaris you can check more pictures and meantime on Twitter account of Tata Safari and on Facebook.
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