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One couple on a drive - along India's border

Friday August 12, 2011 12:26:38 PM, Jaideep Sarin, AISN

Chandigarh: Even before stepping on the gas, they are describing their journey as insanely long, incredibly extensive and a never done before thing. But when Chennai-based couple Harsha and Prabha Koda hit the road from Mumbai this Independence Day, they would have a fair idea of the arduous journey ahead.

The web-designer couple from Chennai's Kottivakkam area, who take to driving across the length and breadth of the country like fish to water, are embarking on a 70-day journey from Aug 15 to drive along the entire border of India's mainland.

"This has never been attempted before by anyone. It is insanely long and incredibly extensive. The places that we will drive along will draw the map of India," Harsha Koda told IANS on phone from Chennai.

From hitting the country's border along coastal areas to the sand dunes of Rajasthan to the LoC (Line of Control) in the Kargil sector of Jammu and Kashmir to the remote areas of Arunachal Pradesh and touching the southern tip of Kanyakumari - the couple will be on a unique 20,000-km journey.

The couple will be driving their Mahindra Xylo multi-utility vehicle that will see them touch almost all the 28 states. They say the trip this time has a special message - to create stem cell awareness and save lives.

"Several drives and causes create awareness on tigers or simple issues like plastic bags, but very rarely one comes along a cause that could change the face of health and well-being of an entire generation. We would like to dedicate our marathon drive across the nation to stem cell awareness," Harsha said.

The couple have been associated with 'Jeevan' (Life), India's first and only public stem cell bank ( ) since 1996.

Harsha said: "A lifesaving stem cell cure which would cost about Rs.25 lakh can be achieved at Rs.2 lakh for all, when this bank is fully functional. That is why we want to create awareness about stem cell among people."

The border drive effort by the Kodas is also likely to fetch them international recognition.

"We are logging the drive to make an entry into the Guinness World Records," Harsha said.

They had successfully completed an over 10,000-km journey from coastal Tamil Nadu to the remote areas of Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand in June last year.

"The unique thing about that trip was that we stayed at home-stay resorts at most places," Prabha said.

"Every year, we travel major parts of the country by road to get a feel of this great country," Prabha said.

They have so far clocked over 400,000 km on all types and terrains of Indian roads in just under a decade to fulfil their passion of driving and seeing the country.

The couple keep pace with their work of web-designing through their laptops and Internet even when they are driving in any part of the country.

"We have this passion for driving and we make it a point to accumulate and use our holidays twice a year - nearly 50 days each time - to fulfil this," Harsha said.

Having started their journey with the first car they bought, a Maruti-800, the couple have driven a whole range of cars from Maruti Zen, Wagon-R, Maruti Swift to a Mahindra Scorpio.

The couple also give names to some of the cars that they drive - ranging from 'Chicklet' (yellow-coloured Wagon-R), 'Guns and Roses' (bright red Maruti Swift) to the 'Haliaetus' - a white-bellied sea eagle found in India's coastal areas - (white Mahindra Xylo).

While Harsha does most of the driving, Prabha is happy to be guiding him with navigation.

Harsha and Prabha say that the inspiration for driving through the country again and again came from French explorer Jacques Cousteau.

The couple have created a blog - - to share their driving experiences. The 'wait for side' has been taken, as they point out, from the most written slogan on the rear of Indian trucks and buses!

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at




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