Jyoti Shah’s eyes light up at the sight of the Terrano. “I only drive SUVs,” she tells us as we get in. “In fact, when I first learned to drive, back in – what was it – 1983 or ’84, I learned on the Tata Sierra. SUVs appeal to me; they make you feel like you are in power. But now that I live in Hyderabad, driving an SUV has become more and more cumbersome, which is why these compact SUVs have totally caught my fancy.”
Jyoti, as is evident, was a very chatty person. She is the head of human resources for a national chemicals manufacturer, a job she tells us that she terribly enjoys, and for the 600-odd kilometres from Hyderabad to Visakhapatnam ( also Vizag), her constant banter kept Team Autocar India constantly entertained. We were headed to Visakhapatnam to make Jyoti meet her daughter, Naini, who was a student at IIM Visakhapatnam. Naini was one year into her course now, but on account of her overzealous attitude towards achievement and extra-curricular activities, had vowed to stay on campus for the full two years, trying to accomplish as much as she possibly could. Such decisions, as you would expect, would not go down very well with a mother, and so, here we were: bridging the distance between a doting mother and her very-busy daughter.
The drive from Hyderabad to Visakhapatnam was not too cumbersome: the highways were well-maintained and relatively traffic-free, perfect conditions for a long drive in the Terrano. We maintained a steady pace, with Jyoti splitting time between taking the wheel and relaxing in the back seat in a 70:30 ratio. “Driving is a lot of fun, but sometimes, you need to relegate yourself to the back seat and look out at the world to make sure you don’t miss the wonderful scenery flitting by,” Jyoti told us. Definitely words we will keep in mind.
She took an immense liking to the back seat. The relatively firm seat provided great support for her back, there was plenty of leg- and headroom to create a sense of airiness and space, and the faux-leather seat covers felt premium and snug. And the Terrano’s ride certainly helped things. “This car feels very planted,” Jyoti commented. “It feels solid, stuck to the ground, like a proper SUV.”
After nearly 12 hours of driving, we finally drove through the gates of IIM Visakhapatnam. It was a majestic campus, with buildings made of stone bricks interspersed among lush green gardens. Jyoti remembered were Naini’s residential quarters were from the time they came to drop her off. We waited with the car while she eagerly went ahead to surprise her daughter.
After what we can assume was a happy surprise, mother and daughter came down to amble about in the small park behind the campus housing. The joy on both their faces was evident: mother happy to see her daughter after so long, and daughter happy to have her mother to open her heart to.
Jyoti and Naini also took the Terrano for a drive along Visakhapatnam’s beautiful and scenic Beach Road. After spending the entire day catching up, it was time to head back. The goodbye was obviously not happy, but there was a sense of contentment in the air. Jyoti wished Naini luck for the year ahead, and we started our long journey back towards Hyderabad. Jyoti relegated herself to the back seat for the first few hours, contemplating on the precious time spent with her daughter while watching the wonderful scenery flitting by.