This Mother’s Day, meet moms Deepa N.P. and Snisha Rajesh who are on a quest to visit all 14 districts of the state over the course of a year
They are a bit like modern day versions of Thelma and Louise, setting off on a road trip together. This Mother’s Day, meet gutsy moms Deepa N.P. and Snisha Rajesh, who are both teachers at Government Higher Secondary School, Pang, a village near Kottakal, in Malappuram district. The duo has embarked on an ambitious road trip that will see them covering 14 districts of the State in 12 months, their small kids in tow.
“We both have a yen for travelling and have travelled within and outside the state with our respective families. We found like-minded travel mates in each other when I joined GHSS, Pang,” says Deepa, an English teacher at the school. Snisha teaches biology and is the convener of the school’s nature club. Together the two women, both of them 35 years old, often organise trips for students and faculty members of the school. “The road trip is something that we had been planning for a long while now. We thought it would be a nice challenge to travel across Kerala by ourselves,” says Deepa.
The adventure started in September last year when the duo went on a one-day trip to nearby Silent Valley – albeit as part of a faculty tour – and another to Hyderabad, this time without the kids. In November they went to Parambikulam. Then, in December, they took a trip to Kochi and cruised the backwaters on Sagararani. Their first real attempt at travelling alone was a two-day trip in January to Valparai hill station across the border in Tamil Nadu, via Athirapally and Vazhachal waterfalls in Thrissur district.
Deepa does the driving, while Snisha navigates. “I had never driven such long distances before and certainly not the nerve-wracking 40 hairpin bends of the likes we encountered on the way to Valaparai, which proved to be a bit of a challenge,” says Deepa. In February they travelled all the way down to Thiruvananthapuram and also visited Kanyakumari, again accompanied by a bunch of other teachers from the school. A couple of weeks later, in March, they drove to Kannur and Kasaragode, via Kozhikode, stopping at places of interest such as Payyoli, Thalassery, Dharmadam thuruthu, Muzhappilangad beach, Payyambalam beach, Parassinikdavu and Bekal Fort on the way.
“First on our list was to see a Theyyam performance, which we watched late into the night.” Last month they drove to Nelliyampathy hill station in Palakkad district.
The two women are always accompanied by Snisha’s elder son, seven-year-old Gautam Rajesh and Deepa’s son, eight-year-old Nimai Vineej, except for the Nelliyampathy trip, when they took along Snisha’s two-year-old son, Om Rajesh, instead of Gautam, who was away visiting relatives. “We wanted our children to expand their horizons and see first-hand the beauty of the State. Now, they are as equally or more interested in travelling as we are. In fact, when my niece came to visit the other day, Nimai told me, quite seriously, that we should take her on a trip!” says Deepa.
The young mothers say that they have not yet faced any difficulty on the road . “Positive thinking is absolutely essential. Thankfully we’ve never had a breakdown. Actually, we’ve found people to be very helpful, particularly with directions. They always seem to go out of their way to help us and look out for us, particularly when they realise that we are travelling with kids,” says Deepa. However, she adds that, the key to stress-free travel is to plan the trip judiciously. “We research about the places where we want to visit and enquire from friends and relatives. Because we’re taking along the kids, we make sure there is enough food and water in case we can’t reach our destination on time. Also, most importantly, we make it a point to stick to schedule,” explains Deepa.
Of course, the duo says that none of these trips will be possible without the support of their husbands, Vineej Somanthan and Rajesh Ramakrishnan, both of who work in Dubai, and their respective families. “We want to lead by example and show other women – other mothers – that there is nothing stopping them from following their dreams,” says Deepa, who is busy planning the duo’s ‘monsoon trip’ scheduled for the end of the month. “We’ve always wanted to see Idukki… ”