Tough luck!

Despite all your good wishes and support, Ankita and I are out of the Great Driving Challenge.

We made it to top 100 in 5 days of work, connected with so many friends, got to know what our friends think about us when asking them to vote, and when reading the testimonials they wrote for us. Not a bad outcome after all.

Would have loved to be selected and go on the great route we had planned, as a sponsored trip 🙂 Next time maybe.

But the great news is that these guys are through! Cheers Joe & Namrata! Rock it!!

I travel… but am humble

Ankita writes, and she writes well! Reading what she wrote recently, I cannot bring myself to remember that she was a part of a TV show like MTV Roadies!

Here, I let her take over:

Travel huh? I think people who talk intensely about how much they have travelled and what they have seen, are not the kinds that I can relate to. I am more of the person who would keep her travels to herself, for it is not the world to rejoice on but my own humble self. I am also humble enough to admit that I havent seen the world ten times over. Last week I visited my aunt who lovingly showed me pictures of Australia & USA. She has travelled extensively.With all due respect to her but somehow seeing the pictures I wonder how many people really appreciate or understand what they see. It’s more of a race to have as many pictures & whether you took one at Trafalgar Square or the Opera House. Did you stay in the famous 5-star by the lake or did you eat at the famous place at 5th Avenue? Did you gamble at famous Vegas casinos or did you shop at the Changi airport? I for once wanna thank god that am not in the same league (yes you see the slight hint of humbleness again).

I like to see the trees pass me by. I like to put the passenger seat reclining and lie down looking up & outside the window. You see the trees pass you, the streetlights and the stars(if it’s night). The whole feeling is like you are rotating slowly with the earth.Inch by Inch, day by day, night by night. It’s as if the whole world has stopped but you.I also love to sit at the back of an SUV and watch the colourful neon lights on the road that divide two lanes.Sitting at the back it makes me feel as if my car is leaving behind a blazing trail which others might follow. It’s not like I am Buddha on his path of enlightenment but maybe I am doing my little bit for religion.

Ride ’n’ Rain


relaxed hawk
Originally uploaded by recaptured

The lazy Sunday afternoon I was spending with the Boat Club Quiz Club in the COEP old canteen was brought back to excitement by Joseph’s proposal, that we go to some place called Tiger Tower Hill. All he knew about it was that it was a hill (duh!) near Kamshet. Monsoons, cameras and a new car was all the bait I needed to come along. But then he bowled me a bouncer – Naren’s ’96 E-class would also join us!

I would have been an idiot if I said no. So I did not 🙂

A smooth and quick ride on NH4 took us to Kamshet, where we stopped for a quick snack-break, and then asked the restaurant owner for Tiger Tower Hill. He told us it is near Lonavla. So we drove off towards Lonavla.

What we saw on the road then was horrifying! A Corolla Altis had apparently been hit on the back by what seemed to be a humongous vehicle with great force. That force pushed it into the road divider. Both its boot and bonnet were smashed! Thankfully the two people in the car including the person driving it seemed to be safe and unhurt.

This is where Joe got a call from Naren. He had seen a black Cedia cross him in the other direction, and he thought it could be us. Then they exchanged a few words about the Corolla as a reference point, and we met a few hundred metres from the spot of the accident.

We drove back to Kamshet. Turned out that a lane next to the place we snacked at led to the Hill. So much for asking directions from locals!

The road up to the Hill seemed to be okay. We kept wondering why Naren would describe it the way he did. Then we came to know. There was a detour from the road we were driving on, which was barely six feet wide. And this detour would have been done last a year ago maybe. And due to the rains it was kinda loose. Now we knew why he said that once you are on, you can’t reverse.

Since we were already some 50metres into this “road”, the only way to go was forward. So we did.

A narrow road with steep inclines, punctuated by expanses of flattish land with lots of grass, as you can see in the photograph, continued. On the way Naren gave up, his wiper was not working, and it would not be possible on such a road to get down and wipe the glass at any point.

The monster (by recaptured)

We spent some time discussing whether we go ahead – both the cars, whether we turn back – both the cars, or we go ahead – with all of us in the Cedia and the Merc standing where it was. Finally Naren decided to park his car with two of its wheels on the road, and we loaded all six of us in the Black Hawk.

The Black Hawk rose to the challenge and carried all six of us forward, until at a point the incline became too steep, and we smelled its clutch burning! Four of the people in the car – the entire back crew – decided to trek to the top, while Joe and I stayed in the car and drove it to the top.

A Thunderbird, a Pulsar 220 and a Scorpio were already parked at the top. The view was amazing! There was a trek that went further up, but we decided to stay where we reached, while Girish decided to go up.

There was also a trek that went down – beyond the railing, on to a neighbouring hillock. Our four companions went that way, while we stayed back to admire the car and shoot it from every angle and perspective we could think of – wide angles, closeups, macros, high-hat, top view, sides, front, back. Apparently the spot down there on the hillock was amazingly windy. So the buggers stayed there until the sun went down.

Joseph was getting impatient, because he had burnt his clutch and also because in the dark the road would be tougher to drive on. So we pushed off without our passengers, albeit at a slower pace, and asked them to come trekking down to meet us.

We reached the parked Merc, divided the ‘load’ between the two cars equally, and started off back home. On getting to the proper road, Naren stopped again. His awesome wipers had now jammed in one place. One could not move them even by hand! After some time fiddling with the fusebox and connections, he gave up and concentrated instead on getting a test-drive of the Black Hawk.

steel!

So Naren and Joe went off on a drive in the Cedia, while I went mad clicking the Mercedes – especially the three-pointed star.

They came back, and we split ways — one car to Pune, one to Mumbai.

On the way back, we found a place called Urban Spice. It looked good, so we went in, and ordered. The food was good too.

And from there, I took over the Black Hawk. I drove back till Wakad. It’s such a smooth car! Feels just the way it looks – powerful yet refined.

My flickr stream has not seen so many uploads in so few days since I guess I had discovered the cheap kit-lens macro method.

The Updated Great Driving Route

It is the route that touches the three seas that surround India. The highlight of the route is Kanyakumari, where we will see all the three, the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal together. Then there is the Bay of Bengal at Pondicherry, the ruins of Hampi, scenic Coorg, the Arabian Sea all through the Konkan coastline and a short and sweet day spent at Goa.

There is no change over the last route we posted. It has only been fleshed out a little and a few errors corrected.

Day 1
Start: Mumbai

To: Murud
A striking beach, and the commanding fortress of Janjira, which is simply India’s most spectacular island fort. But we wouldn’t be stopping here beyond a couple of hours plus the time needed for us to ferry to the fort and back. Because we have to get further

To: Chiplun
Night halt

Day 2
To: Mapusa
For a short & customary stopover at Goa, and a night halt at Madgaon.

Day 3
To: Gokarna
Gokarna – or the cow’s ear, is a small low-key village, with temples and beaches, the best beaches being those reached via a footpath that begins on the southern side of its Ganpati temple.

Day 4
A day well-spent negotiating the roads of the Konkan Ghat, getting us to Mangalore, where we explore the city and then stay for the night.

Day 5
To: Coorg
Coorg, or Kodagu, is known for its cool climate, winding roads, rambling over forested hills and past spice and coffee plantations. There are some forts, temples, and a waterfall to see apart from the breathtaking natural beauty.

To: Kunnur
It may be a small and unexciting town otherwise, but there is Kerala’s most popular ritualistic art form, theyyam that belongs to this place. Apart from that there is a Portuguese built St. Angelo Fort, built of brilliantly red laterite stone, and gives excellent views of the surrounding beaches.

To: Kozhikode
The port where Vasco Da Gama landed in 1498, while on the voyage to find the sea-route to India. There is not much to see as a tourist, but is a good place to take a break, which is exactly what we plan to do here.

Day 6
To: Ernakulam
It’s next to Fort Cochin, another laid back town, famous for its port.

To: Kollam
A quaint little town, which is also an entrance to the Backwaters

Day 7
To: Kanyakumari
Imagine a place where you can see India’s three big surrounding water bodies meet! The place where land ends!
Kanyakumari is the “Land’s End” of the Indian subcontinent. Here the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea meet. Among other things to see is the Vivekananda Memorial, where Swami Vivekananda had meditated in 1892 before becoming an icon to the Indian/Hindu public.

To: Sivakasi
From Kanyakumari we move off to Sivakasi and spend the night in the house of fireworks in India.

Day 8
To: Madurai
Madurai – the home of the Meenakshi Temple. According to ancient documents, this city is 2400 years old, and was an important trade hub, especially for spices. You can imagine us photographers going mad photographing the temple, and the local people.

From here we push off towards Chidambaram for a night halt.

Day 9
To: Pondicherry
Pondicherry is the pocket of French culture and architecture in India. Apart from its calm and relaxed lifestyle and French connections, it is famous for the Auroville – the ashram of Maharishi Aurobindo.

The road towards Hampi would take us to Tannakallu, where we plan to stop for the night.

Day 10
To: Hampi
Glorious Hampi! The fascinating ruins of 15th century Vijayanagar make this place famous. In the legends of Ramayana, this place was called Kishkindha, the place where the monkey gods lived.

To: Sholapur
With 10 days well spent, we stay for the night in the small town of Sholapur.

Day 11
To: Mumbai
The beautiful drive back to Mumbai will be through Baramati, Pune, Lonavla and Khandala.