Taking the road less travelled: Meenakshi

A globe trotter and an avid reader who is married to Arvind of Dindigul, Meenakshi was born and brought up in Coimbatore. “I read a lot and have been through a slew of authors including Murakami, but Fountainhead by Ayn Rand is my favourite book. I keep a copy of this book in all my residences,” states Meenakshi  while chatting up with RITZ over a cup of green tea at her plush residence at Coimbatore.

Text: Rajesh Govindarajulu

The couple and their daughter Vedhika move through their homes located at Dindigul, Kodaikanal, Coimbatore and Sirumalai on the hills with effortless ease. While Arvind is into the business of textiles and cultivation of gherkins for export, Meenakshi manages the resort, LAKESIDE at Attur near Sempatti. The exotic resort is located within a 30-minute drive from Dindigul. Meenakshi loves to travel and has been travelling for two decades, visiting over 45 countries. “I like to travel with my family or my friends – Vidya Ramesh and Arthy Devaya of Bengaluru. Our trips are over two or three weeks at one go. We have been to Cuba, Peru, Brazil, Egypt, Argentina, Mexico, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and many other interesting places. Sometimes we had to get on six flights in order to reach places like Turks & Caicos (British Columbia Islands) and it took us about 36 hours from India. We really enjoyed the trip and it will always be memorable. I have really enjoyed visiting the Machu Picchu and the Nazca Lines in Peru. I’m now planning to visit Chile in South America and I wish to cover the Easter Islands too,” adds an enthusiastic Meenakshi.

Travelling has been a pleasure for her in spite of the fact that she is vegetarian. She somehow manages with fruits at times when she does not find anything interesting. Meenakshi had recently done a road trip from India to Bangkok via Myanmar and this motivated her to do an exciting car tour covering  24 countries in 70 days on road over a distance of 24,000 kilometres. “It was an all ladies team consisting of Mookambikai Rathinam, Priya Rajpal and myself. All of us were new to each other and this trip has made us  friends for eternity. We were flagged off from Coimbatore and met Kiran Bedi in Puducherry and Najma Heptullah and Mary Kom in Imphal before moving out of India. The trip covered  Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Austria, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. The longest drive was through China, it took us over 20 days in this large country and in Central Asia we drove through an altitude of nearly 13,000 feet. In Myanmar, we were provided a military escort. Tata Motors provided us their HEXA for the trip. We completed our trip at the Indian High Commission at London and the High Commissioner hosted a dinner for us in order to celebrate the successful completion of the trip,.” shares Meenakshi while sharing details pertaining to the  historic trip.

The tidbits shared by her are fascinating, “It took me about eight months to plan and get the trip ready. The tolls in China cost us 5.25 rupees per kilometre. All of us had to get 11 visas per head and the insurance for the car had to be taken based on the countries in our route. We went  through three passes in Central Asia. The luggage was just our uniforms, one bag each, phones, vehicle spares and some food. We got trained by the people at the Tata Motors for a few days and this helped us to manage contingencies. The trip was supported by Rotary, CRI Pumps, Sri Ramakrishna Hospital and  many others. We met a  number of Rotarians all over Asia and Europe during the course of our visit. The focus was on the Rotary India Literacy Mission. We honoured a number of women achievers all through the tour. ” The travel was supported with the best of communication systems and Meenakshi gave an everyday update to the people who were tracking Team XPD 2470. “The travel, the hurdles faced by us, the landscape, varying weathers, local entertainment and hospitality, photo and video opportunities, interesting types of food, clothes, culture, languages and fellowship offered by the local populace was mesmerising. This once-in-many-lifetimes trip will forever be memorable not only for us, but for our near and dear one and the enthusiasts who supported and tracked us realtime  throughout the trip”,  adds a jubilant Meenakshi while exuding energy and enthusiasm.

Meenakshi, who has friends across the country and is ever ready to explore, has now made many friends across the world!