Old time friends Kunal Kapoor and Cyrus Sahukar meandered through the Himalayas for 10 days, exploring the rugged terrain testing the bond they share.
If we must define the camaraderie between Kunal Kapoor and Cyrus Sahukar in one word, it would be complementary. The unrestrained hilarity, the endearing brotherhood and the candid flow of conversation between these two actors is as organic as it gets. At one moment, they’d be completing each other’s sentences, the next, spilling beans about the other’s quirks. They have been friends for over two decades and have never been on a vacation together, barring a few weekend trips to Goa. So, for their maiden voyage they decided to drive through the Himalayas for 10 days starting out from Dharamshala all the way to Kaza. On their journey they discovered breath taking landscapes and tiny towns hidden away in the glorious expanse of the mountains, Andretta, Rampur, Rakcham, Andretta, Tirthan, Pooh and Tabo to name a few. They trekked through Chaddar, kayak raced till the base of the cliff while Cyrus persisted in challenging Kunal to river rafting. They stayed at the Dennis Harp Homestay and naturally had to visit the one dhaba, located on the outermost reaches of India on the banks of the Baspa river by the Indo-Tibetan border in the Chitkul valley. They wrote letters to themselves and posted them from Hikkim, the highest post office in the world. As they set out to discover new routes and further challenge the limits of their friendship, we caught up with them in Delhi.
A retelling of that free-wheeling journey:
How long have you known each other?
Kunal: For the last 22 years. We met at an event during which we were to share a room. So, no childhood friendship here. I’d say more like between adolescence and adulthood.
Cyrus: I was new to Mumbai and Kunal opened his heart and house to me. My first visit to a beach was to Juhu, with him.
Do you often travel together?
Cyrus: Too many plans but none executed.
Kunal: We have been planning to take a vacation together ever since we met. A few short trips to Goa is all that we have managed. There was once an itinerary for Machu Pichu. That is still on the list. This 10-day trip has been the longest we have ever done together.
What does travel mean to you?
Kunal: Travel is about experiencing something new…the place, the culture and the people. To sum it up in a word, I’d say travel is growth. When we were travelling for the show, Great Escape, for Fox Life, we went out of our comfort zone, met new people and experienced new cultures, first hand.
Cyrus: Travel for me is a journey both from the outside in and the inside out. Whichever way you look at it we shift and change constantly. I am glad we took this trip. The cameras weren’t intrusive and we were completely ourselves.
Mountains or beaches?
Cyrus: It’s a tough one, but if I mus,t then the beach as well.
What do you like the most about the other as a travel buddy?
Cyrus: Kunal does not have any travel anxieties nor the FOMO syndrome. He is a relaxed traveller who comes without a list of don’ts. I was surprised to see him not grumble about anything. Another thing I love about him is that he is always packing a lot of food. The further up into the mountains one goes the scarcer is the supply of oxygen and food. But I had a portable general store with me the whole way. And the fact that he loves to share his food makes it even better. So, in future, no matter who I’m travelling with I’d like Kunal to be there.
Kunal: I can’t think of anything. I am joking (laughs). Cyrus is a great co-traveller. Even in the worst situations, he can make me laugh. I love the fact that we can have a conversation about almost anything under the sun...from life to death to ants.
What is so special about an all-boys trip?
Cyrus: Although it was more of a two boys’ trip, the best thing is that you can take each other for granted and in so doing be continually disappointed with each other. It is like the opposite of a good relationship. For example, if you lose your wallet there isn’t any shock to go with it.
Kunal: It is one of those rare experiences that you can never have with your best friend otherwise. Once you get back to the city and to everyday life you are able to grab everything by the horns.
Have you ever hitchhiked on a trip?
Cyrus: I hitchhiked a lot when I was travelling through Uttarakhand. But it is nothing like they show in the movies. It is far more uncomfortable. India, I think, is a hitchhiking nation. We are constantly adjusting, dropping someone off or helping someone out as we make our way through it.
Kunal: I have never hitchhiked. We did drop off a few people when we were on this trip.
Were there any phobias that you overcame during the trip — water, heights, centipedes, may be?
Cyrus: I am not phobic about anything that I know of. I have an equal dislike for everything (laughs). But, paragliding was something that I was not up for because I am not the sort of chap who likes to jump off of cliffs. So, this experience helped me become less fearful. I also realised that over-analysing is a terrible thing. You either find your phobia when you travel or you set out aware of it and hopefully ready to face it.
Kunal: The overall challenge of testing and pushing one’s limits is something that I am more comfortable with now.
Did you cook on this trip?
Kunal: We didn’t really cook but we ate a lot.
Cyrus: There wasn’t really much time to do any cooking. We did camp out. I suppose since the pair of us are terrible cooks everyone was fortunately spared.
If you ever write a book on your travels what would you name it?
Cyrus: On the Way.
Kunal: Yes, that’s a good title for your book, Cyrus because you are always on your way (laughs). For me, it would be Been There, Done That.
Three things on your travel bucket list.
Cyrus: I want to see all of Africa. People don’t believe that I’ve never been to New York but I haven’t and I want to. And, of course, Machu Pichu.
Kunal: Portugal, Cuba and South America, but not all three together!
What are the things that you would miss from this trip?
Kunal: The silence, the feeling of my mind being uncluttered, and being inaccessible to the world. These are the things that you miss when you get back to the city.
Cyrus: I will miss the leisure, the slow pace, the luxury of looking at the sunrise or sipping on a cup of tea for hours, and not being anxious because you aren’t doing anything.
The journey that Kunal Kapoor and Cyrus Sahukar took has been chronicled for the show Great Escape on Fox Life.