Women who take to off-roading are rare in Kerala. But Nimisha Manjooran has been charting her own success through this adventurous path that not many people, especially women, have taken.
Nimisha had taken part in the Mahindra Great Escape 2019 that was held at Vagamon last year. For her, the experience of the first off-roading competition was quite good. The challenge was to drive the vehicle through extremely difficult paths and collect flags placed at specific places along the route.
Nimisha ended the Mahindra Great Escape as the winner in the women's category.
Only those who are extremely passionate about driving choose off-roading. Specially designed vehicles are used for this. The vehicles also have many other things that are specially designed, ranging from the seat belts to roll cages. It is because of these extra safety features that drivers and co-drivers escape safely without getting injured even when vehicles overturn many times.
Nimisha says there can be many reasons why women don’t opt for off-roading. It costs lakhs to equip vehicles with the facilities and provisions required for off-roading. This is often impossible for women without the support of the family. Besides the cost involved, concerns over safety also deter many from chasing the off-roading dream.
One of the golden rules for off-roading drivers is that they should never go alone. This is a testament to the importance of co-drivers in any off-road driving. The support of her life partner Anand Manjooran also strengthens Nimisha's off-roading pursuits. Anand, himself an off-road driver, was runner-up last year in the RFC (Rainforest Challenge), the biggest challenge for off-roaders.
The presence of women in off-roading in Kerala is still very low. For the V12 racing that was held at Kakkanad in Kochi, initially there was no plan to allow women to participate. That may be because the organisers probably did not even think about it. The organisers, however, finally decided at the last minute to give women also a chance.
It was only after the women's competition was held that Nimisha came to know about this. She had entered the competition by pointing out that she had registered earlier itself.
Nimisha drove on a track that was battered by about 30 vehicles speeding up and down. Among all the competitors, she drove on the worst track but still finished second.
That second place she won by competing hard was more exciting than the first place that she had lost due to a difference of just a few seconds.
It was a recognition of her courage and mental toughness to not give up, the most important quality that is required to be an off-road driver.
A Mahindra Classic modified for off-roading is the vehicle Nimisha drives in competitions. In future, she desires to get work completed on an off-road vehicle as per her liking. She hopes that more off-roading venues will emerge in Kerala once COVID is brought under control. Nimisha also hopes that she, along with her friends, will soon be able to implement the idea of an off-roading competition organised by women for women.
Off-road driving is an opportunity to get the feel, experience and practise of the safest driving skills. Vehicle stunts that can never be tried on the roads can be done safely.
Nimisha gets support from a family that doesn’t get concerned if a vehicle is hit but instead says that if it is a vehicle such mishaps are likely to happen. She also gets encouragement from her life partner Anand Manjooran, who is also the CEO of Manjoorans, an educational consulting group. Nimisha Manjooran is also a member of the board of directors of Manjoorans.