Very often, one gets to see some unusual sights in the streets of Bhubaneswar.
On a chilly January evening, still reeling from the after effects of the New Year Party, we spotted something unusual. Behold in front of us, parked was a Land Rover Defender- left hand drive. Although, coming across a Land Rover Defender is rare enough in Orissa but sighting one with a Left Hand Drive is like coming across a Penguin in a desert. The registration wasn’t Indian and the markings were Czech.
After waiting for more than an hour (and drooling over it) we finally met the owners of the car. Jan and Katerina Markova have driven,slept and lived inside their 1998 make Defender. As our god Jeremy Clarkson once said in the holy scriptures ‘Defender hath been thy vehicle to invade thy country.’ The icing on the cake is that they have driven all the way from the Czech Republic to India. 15,000 odd kilometres traveled and not a single engine fault or a blown gasket they came across. Only did in Iranian Countryside, they got a flat tire and that is all they had. Now I understand why armies around the world, African dictators, Naturalists and Trippers like Jan and Katerina prefer this bare bones no-nonsense vehicle which to us seemed like it was built to last till Judgement Day.
They apparently have crossed the entire stretch of Europe and then entered into Asia Minor via Turkey,then through Iran,Pakistan and into India.We asked them why have you undertaken this journey and pat comes the reply from Katerina “Well, we wanted to see the world before we settle down in our lives back in Czech.” We asked them if there were any incidents with the car? “Ah nothing much, just 2 flat tires in Iran and a slight accident in Pakistan” replied Jan.Their next stop is going to be either Vladivostok or Mongolia (Ulaan Bator) depending on which nation’s visa they get. They plan to ship the car from Calcutta to either of these places.
“We came to Delhi and we were lost and the entire day we searched for our embassy and finally when we did find it was closed and we were very tired so we just parked our car in front of the embassy gates and fell asleep in the car.The next morning the guys from the embassy woke us up and were bewildered at seeing us and our Land Rover.That was a quite funny actually”, Katerina quipped.
“Its been 4 days since we have been travelling in an around Orissa and we (have) been to Puri,Konark and Dhauli… it’s quite an amazing state because we have been to India earlier but this is the first time we have come to Orissa” adds Jan.
“Your state has some amazing temples but our only grudge is that your government charges way too much in terms of entry fees from the foreigners.I am sure that is not the way you promote tourism” , signs off Katerina.
You can see the pictures of their beast here
Photos Courtesy : Ranvir Deb aka Pheel Photographer
Article Courtesy : Aditya Kiran Nag and Aditya Panda