Bharulata Kamble- the woman who drove to the Arctic Circle for cancer awareness

We might have all heard or read stories of people who do extraordinary things and become an inspiration for the rest of the world. Bharulata Kamble is one such person who brings inspiration to each one of us through her expeditions promoting special messages on cancer awareness and saving girl child. Here is an interview piece with the woman who has won several national and international recognitions for her solo and other expeditions across several countries.

You started your journey of expeditions with long distance driving around the United Kingdom in the late 90’s. How did this desire of exploring become a passion?

A very famous dictum is that ‘necessity is the mother of all inventions’ but in my case without me realising, my desire for exploring new boundaries became the mother of my passion. Exploring things is my second nature but more than that to excel in the task I undertake is my key strength. I undertook many small expeditions where I either drove alone or after marriage on odd occasions took my husband along, where I would either cover 900 kilometres overnight or drive through 6-8 countries in minimal time limit. My desire to explore my limits became my passion. Along with my passion it was essential to spread the campaign for Save Girls and Educate Girls, which is an inseparable part of me.

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Becoming a world record holder has earned several awards of recognition for you. What more have you planned for future?

Exploring new worlds and new boundaries is my passion. The beautiful confluence of my passion and inspiration were my multiple world records, which, of course, earned me several awards and recognitions. I have several things planned for the future and most importantly I would be driving solo once again but this time through 50 countries, through more varied terrains, more time zones and some of the extreme weathers. I would be doing a winter challenge to Arctic Circle again but this time completely alone and would be time-bound. I would also be doing 4 extremities of UK in minimum time. Solo driving around India would be another record I would be undertaking in the near future. All my drives would carry a mission to spread a message to the society internationally to Save Girls and Educate Girls’. Along with that I would also be emphasising on ‘Early detection is the best protection against cancer’.

What is the motivation behind your expedition- the Arctic Baltic Cancer Drive?

In my life I have never waited for a change to be brought by someone else or left it on time. I always believe that I should be the change that I want to bring and rather than waiting I prefer to take my destiny in my hands. With the same motivation my Arctic Baltic Cancer Drive was a triumph against the deadly illness of cancer. I wanted to show the world that cancer can never stop you from living your life and achieving your goals. Along with that I also wanted to spread awareness against cancer including my moto that ‘Early detection is the best protection against cancer’. This was a clear-cut message through my cancer journey as well as through my Arctic Baltic Cancer Drive, to all the men and women who consider cancer as a stigma and seek medical opinion only when it is too late.

Your solo expeditions have made you quite popular, and they must have given you several experiences. Please share any incident during your solo travels which became a turning point of your journey.

There are several such experiences I had or gathered through my solo expeditions. I would like to mention one particular incident that was a turning point in some ways for me. On my way from Moreh check post to Imphal after my entry in India, my car was stuck in a local protest. After passing through sections of small gatherings and vehicles which were stopped due to the protest, the section looked blocked. I got anxious and could sense something dangerous was coming. Suddenly bunch of guys walked pass my vehicle and started looking at me with curiosity, possibly wondering what this woman is doing on the road alone in the car. It was not possible to move anywhere now as the roads were blocked. I was scared sitting in my vehicle shivering with nowhere to go, watching the protesters passing by my car with many of them armed as well as carrying sticks and stones in their hands! A trusted negotiator of Indian military was escorting my vehicle. He explained the protestors’ leader about the noble cause of ‘Save Girls Educate Girls’, I was carrying and promoting. The leader not only understood the nobility of my causes but also allowed my vehicle safely out of the area. This was certainly a turning point in my life as it gave me assurance that my mission is going in the right direction and has ability to even melt a rock heart.

Is there anything specific you carry back from your travels?

Whenever I return back from any adventurous travel or expedition, I carry back plenty of memories, stacks of experiences, some life turning moments and of course my expedition car in readiness for the next expedition.

Tell us about the places that are a part of your bucket list for this year.

My bucket list is huge for this year. Places include all four extremities of UK including Land’s End and John O’ Groats. Another place, which has always fascinated me is Nordkapp but this time via Norwegian highway in specific time limit. Next in plan is travelling to 50 countries including their capitals or major cities. These would include most of the European countries, central Asian, east Asian and south Asian countries.

Any special advice for people who love to travel but face challenges with their health?

Health is a very important aspect of any expedition. Ideally sound health is needed for travel, but it isn’t mandatory. One should know their health conditions, the limits as to what their body allows and doesn’t allow. Before setting on any expedition one should make sure that travel insurance is up-to-date and covers the health conditions. One should make sure that the places they are travelling to have facilities to deal with their health conditions in case of emergencies. The stock of required medications and other possible medicines should be carried with the person travelling. One should identify, read and know possible emergencies, which could arise during travel, ways to tackle them, and ability to deal with them. Most importantly one should consult their doctors and take proper advice as to whether they are fit to travel and fit to undertake any expedition.

Who is your best travel companion?

I would say that I am my best companion. As all my world records were solo except one expedition ‘Arctic Baltic Cancer Drive’ where my children (13 years old and 10 years old) accompanied me. Another is my music. Good music, steering wheel in my hand and an empty open road for miles is an ideal companion.

Which is your favourite travel quote?

“Let’s break the boundaries and unleash our desire, let’s explore the beautiful world and travel like never before, we are the heroes of our own destiny, never stop craving for more!”

What does your travel kit generally carry?

Generally speaking, I believe in simplicity and I am a minimalistic person. I usually have a uniform specifically designed for my travel expeditions and I take a few pairs of those along with limited formal clothes. Apart from my toiletries, make up kit I also carry my essential medicines in my travel kit. I generally have some spare for the vehicle including at least one tyre if necessary and all the required and essential paperwork. I carry my own preserved food, tea, portable cooker and my music.

All images have been provided by Bharulata Kamble.

AUTHOR'S BIO: Sanminder is the Digital & Community Editor at Lonely Planet India.