Thomas Chacko, the former company secretary of Harrisons Malayalam Ltd., is embarking on a 25,000 km road trip, sponsored by the Tatas
By Shevlin Sebastian
Last year, Thomas Chacko was editing a book written by Suresh Joseph, the former General Manager of DP World, Kochi, who had travelled to 28 state capitals and 17 zonal railway headquarters in a Maruti Swift. “That was when I got the idea of doing something similar,” he says. “In fact, I wanted to do it in half the time.” It remained in Thomas's mind for several months, till January 21, this year, when he wrote a letter to Ratan Tata, the chairman of Tata Sons.
Part of the letter read as follows: 'I propose to drive in a Tata Nano to not only all of India's state capitals and union territories, but to its farthest reaches as well – Kanyakumari in the south; Dwarka in the west; Kargil in the north; to the furthest motorable place in the East; and Nagpur, the geographical centre of India.'
A motoring enthusiast, Chacko has driven in eight countries: Canada, Malaysia, Oman, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Britain, United Arab Emirates, and the United States of America. He is also a Formula One aficionado, and has watched races in Sepang in Malaysia, Singapore, and Monaco.
Amazingly, in less than a month, after writing the letter, the Tatas gave Chacko the go-ahead to embark on a fully-sponsored trip. Asked why he chose the Nano, Chacko says, “Why not? It is a car that has put India on the world motoring map. Despite being the lightest car, and having the smallest engine in current production worldwide, the Nano can take on every kind of road, especially with its clearance of 180 mm.”
The other day Chacko received training from the Tata Motors team at Kochi. “The Nano has made optimum use of space so it was necessary for me to know where everything is,” he says. For instance, the jack is placed below the front passenger seat, while the battery is under the driver's seat.
At 63, Chacko is a senior citizen, but that has not deterred him at all. “I feel fit and fine,” he says. “Age is just a number in the head.” All this is a far cry from his former career as a company secretary and interim chief executive of Harrisons Malayalam Private Limited. Apart from that, he is a stellar author.
He has published a novel called, 'Without a City Wall'. “It is a first-person story of a young Englishman, James Badby,” he says. “It describes incidents in England, Malta, Flanders, Florence, Venice, Maldives, Malabar, Cochin, and the fabled capital of the Vijayanagar Empire during the 16th century.”
Chacko has also co-authored and published a 200-page coffee-table book, 'Forest Gold - The story of South Indian Tea.' This was done on behalf of the United Planters' Association of South India. Apart from this, Chacko has his own publishing company, Panthera (www.indiaimprint.com), for which he has ghost-written and edited books.
Meanwhile, the Kochi-based Chacko will embark on his trip from Mumbai on May 3. Regarding travelling through the insurgency-ridden states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, he says, “I have been in touch with the local people, who have advised me on the routes to avoid. In the north-east, I will be getting help from the Army.”
Chacko hopes to finish his trip by the third week of July. “The total distance covered will be 25,000 km,” he says. “I plan to drive the entire way, but will have company at different stages – my wife Geetha [teacher, Choice School], daughter Miriam, son Rahul, brother Abraham [executive director, Federal Bank], sister Rebecca, and brother-in-law Bejoy.”
You can follow Chacko on www. manoetnano.com.
(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)