'The Amazing Race 36's Maya and Rohan Mody Reveal They Nearly Survived the First Elimination

Maya Mody (L) and Rohan Mody (R)

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Maya and Rohan Mody
 thought they had everything mapped out. The siblings are about as old as The Amazing Race and always aspired to race together. As superfans of the show, they put in immense amounts of preparation, even taking separate languages in high school in the hopes of it coming to use one day. But when Maya and Rohan were given the chance to actually race, they found that the map was quite literally missing. Their Amazing Race dream quickly turned into a nightmare when they spent most of the premiere getting lost on the way to the first clue. But, much like a hundred-point turn out of a tight dead end, they kept moving. Unfortunately, despite them performing well at the tasks, their massively slow start out of the gate had them pinned down like a luchador, making them the first team eliminated this season.

Now, out of the race, Maya and Rohan talk with about how close they were to actually surviving the leg, how difficult the navigation was for them, and the record they broke with their appearance on The Amazing Race.

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So, I know that you got to view the premiere (which happened to be your elimination) at a big viewing party in Brooklyn last night. What was it like to watch back an event two years in the making, as bittersweet as it is?
Maya Mody:
 Well, I mean, for the two of us, this has been a lifelong dream for both of us. And so the nicest part about being able to do it in a giant group setting is we got to invite all of our friends and family that have been able to support us throughout the entire experience. For a lot of them, they've known it's been a lifelong dream for the two of us.
Rohan Mody: We've been talking about this since elementary school. So, if you've known us through any stage of our life, whether it's been during high school or during college or family, you've known that this is something that we really love. So getting to invite them, even if it was for one day, really was something special. And we had friends come from DC, where I went to college. And we had people come from Pittsburgh, where Maya went to college. So it was really sweet that they all came out to celebrate us.

I absolutely agree! Well you talk about this being a dream for you for so many years. What's your history with applying for the show?
As soon as it was my 19th birthday, we had submitted our first audition tape. And it was the first season that had open casting calls after the pandemic had hit. And that was the audition tape that got us on to the show. So it was pretty much our first go, which was really lucky for us.
Rohan: But we were waiting until Maya turned 18. Then we submitted the video right away and we're like, "Okay, here we go."

One and done, in unfortunately so many ways. [Laughs.] Well, let's get into what happened during this premiere. We saw you with a couple of teams at the Detour, and you were arriving at the Roadblock as Mary and Chris were leaving. How far behind did you think you were when you were actually at the tasks?
Maya: I mean, we knew we were kind of in the back of the pack. Once we had finally actually parked our car on the actual street that it was supposed to be on after we had gotten out of that..."issue." [Laughs.] Alleyway, I guess you could say. We got out of that, we saw Anthony and Bailey and--
Rohan: Amber and Vinny. They must have just finished the horse challenge. So we saw both of them. And then we were running to the park and saw Juan and Shane run past us.
Maya: And when we got to the wrestling, I believe Mary and Chris were still there.
Rohan: They got it, and we had to watch one more wrestling show after them. So we got it right after them.
Maya: So when we got back to her cars, we knew that they were no more than 10 minutes in front of us. And so we knew that there was still some buffer time. If they had gotten lost, there was still a chance.

And did that buffer time hold? How long after Mary and Chris and Amber and Vinny checked in did you show up?
 They were walking off the mat when we were running up to the Pit Stop. That stung a little bit, especially after doing the Roadblock so quickly. I really kind of put my head down and was like, "Let's get through this." And did it really quickly.

Well, let's get into what made that small time gap all the difference: Your navigational problems getting to the first clue. How much of your difficulties would you chalk up to not having a map?
 Oh, a lot. And I'll say that we made a pretty fatal error, actually, right off the bat at the beginning of the day. And none of the teams capitalized on this, but when we ran out and read the clue, we should have run back into the hotel and gotten a map. So that was a pretty fatal error that we made. So we stopped for directions a couple of times. We stopped as soon as we exited the hotel at a restaurant. Then we got directions, and we knew the direction that we had to head in. But they weren't specific enough to get our bearings. So we stopped on the way to the Malecon. There was a shopping center. And we had tried to stop there to get directions. But I don't know if they understood what we were asking for, or from what it asked for in the clue specifically, they just didn't know what we were looking for. So it did take some wandering around to be able to find out where we were going.
Maya: But I will say it benefited us all the way in the end. We had gone through enough times that when we had to go back from the rodeo, we didn't have to stop for directions at all. I didn't even have to ask them where we were going. I knew exactly what street we had to hit. [Laughs.]

Exactly. You were basically experts at the streets of Puerto Vallarta at that point. [Laughs.] Do you know how long you were lost in that first stage?
 At least an hour getting lost to go to the Voladores, And then getting stuck in the alley took more time.

Well, we have to get into that. I'm going to ask the obvious: Why try to turn around when you can just back up?
Maya: It was a four-lane road right behind us if we were to back up. It was a busier road. So Rohan would have had to get out of the car and stop traffic across a couple of lanes.
Rohan: Which we saw César do. I give him that, being able to block the traffic like that. And also, it was a very long, narrow road. And when we were in the moment, I thought we'd just be able to go down the road and turn around. I didn't realize that there was going to be a divider there. So my brain just went to turning around the car. Looking back, obviously, reversing the car would have been the best strategy. But when you're in the heat of the moment, you do things that you would never do on the daily.

You spoke at the Pit Stop about how, despite how stressful the day was, you never fought with each other. Did that surprise you at all, given your usual sibling dynamic?
 That's a good question. I don't know. I mean, sometimes it's like stupid bickering. We'll poke fun at each other and be like, "Oh my God, what are you doing?" But I think what makes us such a dynamic team is that we're able to understand each other and sometimes go with the flow, not fault each other. We're pretty task-driven people. So we know that we're both trying to achieve a task at the end of the day.

You only had some brief moments interacting with the teams at tasks and the starting line. Any major first impressions you got from anyone in particular?
 Danny is the ultimate super fan. We were at the starting line with him. That's something that we got to share. He really has been watching it for a long time and has set up his own complex races. And we both thought that was really, really cool. Had we gotten further in the race, we would have loved to have actually worked with them.
Maya: They were also a family team. We're a family team. So we would have wanted to work with them. I'm trying to think who else? It feels like so long ago.
Rohan: I mean, it's been a long time. So we've gotten to know the teams, and we have special relationships with all of them. Ricky and César are absolutely wonderful. They're from New York. We're from New Jersey. So we've gotten to spend a lot of time with them. 
Maya: And I mean, we still talk all the time. Everyone that we've gotten to meet through the cast is absolutely wonderful people.

Lastly, what's the biggest thing you learned about your sibling racing together?
 That's a great question. It's hard to answer because we truly have been attached at the hip for a very, very, very long time. I mean, it just kind of confirmed everything that I had known about him. He's someone that I'm going to always be able to depend on. He's always going to be completely driven. I mean, he completely killed the jumping through those lassos challenge. I learned that about you. I didn't think you had those hops. [Laughs.] But he's completely someone that I can depend on. I have so much trust in him. I'm always gonna have faith in him. I love him. He's my brother.
Rohan: So Maya actually holds a really distinct record in that if you put everybody that's raced so far, she's the youngest racer ever to do it, which I think is really special. And, in the normal race seasons, no one has done it younger than 19. So that's something she's always going to have going for her. And she really navigated out of the car, turning the best that she could. I really would have banged the car up. She got the car out fully, which was really impressive. At the end of the day, there was a crowd of 15 to 20 people watching us, too. [Laughs.]

[Laughs.] Wait, were they trying to help you? Or just gawking?
Rohan: They were fully laughing at us. [Laughs.]

Next, read our interview with The Amazing Race 35 winners Greg and John Franklin.