Nidhi always has the full support of her husband and children, but convincing her parents for her solo trip took some time. “My parents struggled to make sense of my interests and passion when I was growing up. It was a tumultuous time and then they were proud. I think my family is still trying to figure out my DNA,” she said.
Nidhi has become the first Indian to drive to Oymyakon which is not only the coldest but permanently inhabitable as well. She drove for 5000 kilometers in a thirteen day time-frame and that too, during winter. She always makes it a point to test her limits and this solo trip was her attempt at it.
Nidhi had to prepare herself diligently for such a difficult drive. The stretch from Yakutsk to Magadan encompassed by the Pole of Cold is one of the most dangerous roads in the world. Not even a single person from India had ever been up there. This encouraged Nidhi to pursue the feat. She has always been the kind of person who has stepped forward when others stepped back. The solo trip had been on her bucket list and had to be done during the winter because the road is firm and frozen at the time.
“This journey has been soul-stirring, because you are alone and there are so many moments when you are dealing with uncertainty, making decisions and coping with the consequences. When you come out of that situation, you feel overwhelmed,” says Nidhi.
To train herself Nidhi drove on high altitudes areas to build her stamina on the wheel. Her vehicle needed some modifications for it to function smoothly at such a place. She had to drive for nearly 10-12 hours a day but in the dark because there is sunlight for only three hours during the day. For survival she relied on raw and frozen meat, spending most of her time in her vehicle to avoid frostbite.
The most fascinating aspect about the trip was that it was an educational one and fifteen Indian schools had partnered in. She was in constant contact to let the students be a part of the experience. A digital setup was put in place specially for communication be made possible. She used Skype to let students have a glimpse of the world she experienced there.
She believes that there is no specific relation between travelling and gender. She recollects an incident where a host was actually shocked at her because she hadn’t seen any woman from any country drive there. For Nidhi, driving has no gender qualification. It’s just a skill which can be acquired and enhanced with nothing but practice.
“I have lived and always believed that women should not be confined to boundaries that they themselves set or that society sets for them.”