September 22, 2023

On the road to Timbaktu

Each time I stepped out of the car for a break during our recent road trip, it took me a few minutes to feel “grounded” – the sensation of swaying ever so slightly even on solid ground was one that I got used to eventually, but never liked. But that was to be expected on such a long trip by road – Bombay to Hyderabad and Bangalore and Kasargod in North Kerala via Madikeri and all the way up coastal Karnataka and Goa before reaching Bombay ten days later, dazed and bedraggled but full of good memories, some of them unique to road travel.



Like stopping for steaming chai at roadside shacks early in the morning… Like stumbling upon a sign post leading to Timbaktu in the middle of nowhere… Like feeling the cool breeze on your face, whooshing and roaring as you drive on open lonely roads, music louder than usual, competing against the sound of the wind… Like stopping at railway crossings, watching tiny bicycles make their way under and through the gates down in anticipation of the train… Like the happy surprise of making and changing plans as you go along, turning off from the highway to explore that small temple, climb that inviting hill or just take another snack break…


Like the sense of deja vu as you pass through small towns bang in the middle of national highways, civilization slowly spilling on to the main road in search of a livelihood, shops selling everything from flowers to plastic buckets on either side of the road… Like the unparalleled pleasure of catching a golden yellow orange pink red sunset, as the day winds down slowly and lazily, the road stretching as a dark snake in front of you…

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. Which road do I take? she asked. Where do you want to go? was his response. I don’t know, Alice answered. Then, said the cat, it doesn’t matter.



Related reading : On and of the road

Update – Bhanu explains the Timbaktu angle – fascinating venture – read here about the Timbaktu collective

12 thoughts on “On the road to Timbaktu

  1. Actually, talking about Timbaktu itself, it’s a collective of about 60 people, who are working on sustainable development, ecorestoration & education. When we met them, we asked them, why they named their place as Timbaktu. This is the story — The founders of Timbaktu, used to work for a rural development programme in Penugonda. They got this idea about taking up some land and setting this up. They still used to live in Penugonda and make daily trips to this land that they purchased, in the middle of nowhere. When their kids used to ask them where they have been, they used to reply ‘Timbaktu’, for fun — and gradually that became the name of the place. http:://

  2. yes, that is fascinating! thanks, Bhanu – have updated the post with your link… we had no idea what Timbaktu was doing in the middle of nowhere…

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