Fifty two teams of women got into their cars and vrooomed off on a treasure hunt.
R. Geetha Rajalakshmi revs her white Renault Duster as soon as she sees the waving flag. She along with her three friends D. Sowthanya, S. Lalitha and G. Geetha are participants in the Heels on Wheels treasure hunt organised by The Hindu.
“I love driving. It is my biggest stress buster. A drive in my car will refresh me if I am exhausted with work,” gushes Geetha. I hop in to catch the action.
We hit Mettupalayam Road. Contestants must crack 18 clues within two hours, 15 minutes. Geetha speeds her way between honking vehicles. S. Lalitha who sits next to her, reads out the first clue, “Get a stamping done in the HPCL outlet, located on Mettupalayam Road and known as COCO.”
“Is COCO a coffee outlet?”, “Is there Café Coffee Day Outlet, nearby?” Sowthanya and G. Geetha, in the back seat, rack their brains.
The search for a petrol bunk with a coffee shop takes us as far as Kavundampalayam. That’s when we realise we could not be more wrong. A worker at a petrol bunk tells us COCO stands for Company Owned Company Operated Outlet, which is near the starting point.
We head back. Sowthanya reads the next clue. “Get me “real Mysore pa”, from your nearest outlet named after presiding Goddess at Kasi”. “Goddess of Kasi is Annapoorna. We must reach the Annapoorna outlet on Mettupalayam Road,” exclaims Sowthanya, pumping her fist in air.
Being the youngest of the lot, she jumps out of the car and dashes to the restaurant as Geetha swerves to the right to get the stamping done at the HPCL outlet. I too get down for fresh air and a cuppa of morning coffee.
By now, Annapoorna is crowded with ladies in grey vests who run frantically to the sweets section to grab packets of Mysore pa. Joggers, tucking into a post-run Sunday breakfast sportingly make way for them. Some even offer them help to crack the clues. At this point I take leave of Geetha and head to VOC Park to check out the action there. The drivers have more clues to follow.
Around 10.a.m. cars begin to drive in at the final check point, near VOC Park. Women rush to the counter to return their question sheets. There are heated debates on who reached first and last. But all of them glow with pride and happiness.
The rally was not just about how good a driver you are, says Kavitha Sendhil. “It also tests the contestants’ knowledge about the history of the city. We had to identify the photo of R. Chellammal, managing director of Kesavardhini products, “We also had to be street smart,” says Janaki Badrinath. “We had to get hold of the Women’s Day issue of The Hindu. No shop was selling it. Finally, we went to the Cosmopolitan Club at Race Course.”
Some of them tested our intelligence, says Meena Krishnakumar. “We had to find the name of the “form of turmeric that changed colour on addition of lime.” The answer is sindoor. It is something we all learnt when we were children. It was good to relive those days!” she says.
A car with stickers saying “Why should boys have all the fun”, drives in. Three women in floral tops emerge. “It is such a different Sunday for us,” says Maya D. Shroff. “We had oodles of fun, zipping through the city and solving clues.”
First position Ragini and team. Cash prize worth Rs. 8,000, Mahaveers gift voucher worth Rs. 16,000, Sree Daksha Property’s gift voucher worth 16,000 and Sakthi Gold gift hamper worth Rs. 4,000.
Second position Pooja Shah and team: Cash prize worth Rs. 6,000, Mahaveers gift voucher worth Rs.10,000, Sree Daksha Property’s gift voucher worth Rs.10,000
Third position Vidhya Sundar and team: Cash prize worth Rs. 4,000, Mahaveers gift voucher worth Rs.6,000, Sree Daksha Property’s gift voucher worth Rs. 6,000.
Teams headed by Maya D. Shroff and Falguni won Mahaveers gift vouchers and Sree Daksha Property’s gift vouchers worth Rs.4,000 each