Slime. Lots and lots of Slime.
But it’s not on our tyres, not yet at least. We’re actually pumping it into the valves. Slime, you see, is a fantastic substance that you coat the inside of your tyres with to toughen them up. And where we’re going, we need them as tough as they can get.
First things first though, we’ve got a few farewells to bid. Two of our colleagues – Kedar and Santosh – are heading back to the fun and excitement of the Autocar India office, while Sandeep and I are taking on the burden of driving a pair of luxury cars into the Himalayas.
But we’re also bidding adieu to the two cars that have soldiered on all the way from Kuttanad, Kerala. That’s right, no more A7 and A8. They were an absolute blast (so I’m told) on the wide open expanse of the Golden Quadrilateral highway, where the V6 and V8 turbodiesels made short work of thousands of kilometres, while the passengers were deep in slumber.
They’re great cars, but the reason we’re giving them up is the same reason we’re filling our tyres with goop – we’re going to Leh, and the terrain isn’t always very accommodating on the way there. So say hello to the Audis that will be ushering us along for the rest of our journey – an orange Q7 4.2 TDI and a brown Q5 3.0 TDI, which you may recognise from the second Audi GIqD.
All these preparations have taken time though, and it’s well past lunchtime as we roll out of Delhi on our way to Chandigarh. It’s not too long a drive, and the roads are fantastic as well, so we’re not too worried about getting there on time. Still, it’s quite annoying when we run into pockets of truck traffic on our way out of Delhi. It’s not the thickest traffic we’ve seen on this trip so far, but it certainly is some of the most unruly. Trucks cut across lanes unabashedly and passenger cars blaring loud music carve recklessly between them. Still, we do get the chance to stretch both cars’ legs on this run, knowing full well that this is probably the last chance we’ll get to do this.
Night has fallen when we drive into Chandigarh; our hotel is a little off the beaten path, so it takes a while to find it. Tomorrow, we begin our ascent into the mountains, via Manali. We can’t wait.