Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My First Bike (Suzuki Samurai) - 2001

It is very hard to explain what all feelings a guy goes through as he enters adolescence about different things, but I am damn sure that one of the very important acquisition / achievement of a guy would always be his first bike. I know a lot of you guys will definitely agree with me on that, wont you? I had no opportunity to get one while I was in college neither I was keen on getting one as I had enough friends and their bikes to ride on. But when I got into my first job – the first thing which I wanted to own ever was a damn good bike. High priority was looks, pick up, nice noise and the last was an average mileage. As I lay my hands on my first pay check – my wish of getting the bike became stronger and right then – a very good friend of mine got one for himself – that happened to be a brand new shining Suzuki Samurai, his was a combination of Blue and Green. I decided right at that moment while taking a test ride on his bike that THIS IS IT. I have to get it now – high time – I had a bike of my own. First thing I did was run to the closest Yamaha showroom and to my shock they had already discontinued the Yamaha RX135 too and RX100 which was a dream bike of the whole generation of my likes was anyways discontinued long back. Thanks to the increasing pollution norms – India was moving towards a four stroke revolution which made less pollution as per whoever was deciding on that. They had the dumbest looking dead bike on display – I wasn’t keen on taking a test ride, let alone buying it. Bajaj had nothing to offer as they were already selling their 4S as Kawasaki too was long gone which as per me was the second best bike after Yamaha’s RX100 when it comes to looks, pick up and awesome noise it made. We shot to a TVS Suzuki showroom with a hope that they were still selling Suzuki Shogun but we got another heartbreak – they had a Shogun standing in showroom but the owner warned us to not to take it as that was the last of the lot and they weren’t getting anymore delivered. He advised me to rather go for a Samurai which was still in production than to settle for a bike which was going off it. 

Shogun was an awesome looking bike with a neat and well powered engine – I was drooling looking at that fire red bike in the showroom but I guess my friend warned me too to not to go for it and I had no other option but to settle for Samurai as the last resort. Even Suzuki had launched a four stroke bike recently and the sales guys were too keen on that to sell than Samurai but I had to take it because it was the only two stroke bike in the market with average looks but a nice pick up in comparison to those 100cc Four Stroke bikes being sold in the market then. Finished off the paperwork in a jiffy, issued 24 cheques, paid the down payment and immediately I was handed over the keys of a brand new Black and Yellow bike. Our office was hardly 5 lanes behind the showroom hence the owner let us take the delivery immediately as he knew the company we worked for, quite well. I wish I could explain my feelings on that day as I took the delivery and both of us went to our office in our brand new achievements. I rode it with such awe and panache while my neck tie fluttered in air behind me; it was too good a feeling that I can’t seriously contain them in words today. The whole day I was looking for an opportunity to go out and ride the beauty. I waited till some announced “Who is going to Bank today to drop the payments?”, and I immediately got up saying “Oh yeah, I have other works on that side of town, let me go”. I had already picked up a helmet from the showroom and a helmet lock which was fixed on the rear end of the bike as you can see on the picture below. Leg guards were duly fitted with a Sari guard on the back as I was already looking forward to drop whosoever wanted to be dropped amongst my office colleague to wherever for the whole upcoming month. First thing I did that day was – we went to the nearest fuel pump and got it tanked up, to my amazement it drank almost like 10 liters of petrol, I guess company claimed somewhere around 55 KMPL and that should be more than enough supply for the whole month, as my office wasn’t too far from where I stayed.

Power and Specification: Samurai was a 98cc Bike with 7.5 BHP’s air cooled engine, which was good enough for a light weighed guy like me and I made sure to take a flying start every time I started from home or office or any traffic signal, with bike making awesome pick up noise. The meter console was quite straight forward and simple with no tachometer, it just had the speedometer with turn indicators on the top left and right side with two more lights showing neutral and head light high beam. Two turn indicators on the head lamp and two on the tail light. I totally loved its broad and bright tail lamp which actually looked good from a distance. Fuel tank capacity was I guess around 11 liters with one liter will went to reserve. Showroom guy instructed me to not to go beyond 60 KMPH till I hit a minimum 1000 kilometers and get the first service done. With a two stroke engine and four speed gear box – it was fairly easy to ride with simple all 4 gears down, it wasn’t confusing like a Yamaha where you have one down and 3 up and a neutral in between. One thing that I loved about a two stroke engine was – if your bike stops on any of the gears – you could start them again by just pressing the clutch and kicking, unlike the four stroke bikes of that era on which you need to get to neutral first before kicking them alive. I guess now that’s a default feature on all bikes.

Fun on Samurai: I had a lot of fun with my bike, was totally in love with it right from the day I acquired it till the very last day when I bid it goodbye. Although the day I took its delivery, I thought I am never going to dispose it – being my first important acquisition but I guess fate had something else in store for me, more on that later. As its advertisement said during those days on TV, it was indeed a “No Problem” bike. I hardly remember doing anything other than just refueling it and getting the regular service done that too was hardly any cost. The way I used and abused it was totally awesome, as I remember my office parking was like over a footpath, that’s quite a trend back in Delhi which is always out of space. It was quite a tedious task to park the bike in the morning as I had to actually ride it up to the footpath from the ramp and find a location or gap to fit it in. But in the evening when I returned – the scene was chock a block as with so many bikes parked – it was too tough to take it out and cross all the way to the entry of the ramp and go down on the road, the other option being going down a flight of three stairs right from where the bike was parked – I always took the shortcut as bikes clearance was quite high and I had no problems jumping it down three stairs at a slow speed and then take a nice pick up, it was quite a stunt everyday. I even took on the highway too in an emergency as I had to drop a friend’s wife to Meerut from Delhi (Around 90 kms one way) that too she wanted to take her own car. So I took a friend of mine along, on the way to Meerut I drove her car and my friend followed us on my bike. We returned right after reaching her home and parking her car, didn’t even stop for a cup of tea and had no issues doing almost 200 Kms in one go – non stop. That’s the only trip that I did on the state highway on my bike. My everyday ride was around 25 Kms a side and total 50-60 kms a day as I had a history of not coming straight home – ever from office. The mileage that I got from Samurai was exact 550 KMS per 10 Liter of fuel, I guess that was quite decent for my style of riding it and I was indeed happy with it.

Two Years Later - One fateful day – on my way to office around Connaught Place – an over speeding Esteem guy hit me from the back. Fortunately, nothing much happened to me or to the bike, I flew a little bit and landed on another cars roof going ahead of me, with couple of broken teeth. I received around 15 stitches inside my mouth. Bike’s front shock absorber was bent and rear view mirror broke. I was shocked and surprised that Delhi Police was quite helpful as they immediately took me to the nearest hospital and even settled bill too. The dude got picked up too but I did not press charges as it was a mistake and nothing that he did intentionally. I sent the bike to service station for repairs and it took me indeed couple of weeks to come to terms with the accident. One good thing which came out after the accident was – I had to quit smoking because I couldn’t smoke with my mouth almost sealed. I indeed had a great time with the "No Problem" bike – but we had to bid good bye soon after the incident as I decided to settle for a car instead as that will be more secure than riding a bike in today’s growing traffic.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fiat Siena Weekend - Comes Home! (2000)

It took us a couple of years in realizing that we should have gone for a Diesel car instead of petrol, at least one of them as we had to travel long distance every alternate weekend with my nephews school in Dehradoon. That was the fun part as I loved driving and this was my opportunity to upgrade my driving skills every time we went early in the morning, had a fun day with him and returned by late night. I don’t remember if Hyundai Accent was launched in diesel at that time or not. I guess they even launched Maruti Esteem too in diesel but if the market reports were to be believed – it wasn’t a success either. As my cousin who himself was an auto expert in his own rights claimed that even Hyundai Accent Diesel was not a great idea as its body was too weak to hold that heavy engine and it would surely not last long, whatever that logic might be – it was beyond me at that time and now I know what he meant – when I look back and think what happened to those cars and where they stand today. We couldn’t have settled for a hatch back cause of the space requirement. Right then, fiat launched its Siena and Siena Weekend model and we were totally bowled over the design and beauty of Weekend. I guess it was India’s first station wagon design that too with diesel and at that lucrative price was totally awesome. Over and above it – the car had Air bags too in the top of the line model. Immediately we booked a test drive and to our shock the nearest showroom was almost a 40 odd Kms from our place. But their sales guys obliged by sending a test drive car straight to our home with a damn good guy who had thorough knowledge about the car and its features too. The car was indeed a head turner for sure as wherever we went while test driving it, people would definitely turn and look at it again as to know what car was that. That was a great feeling to drive something unique and we indeed waited for the company guys to deliver our car. We settled as usual for a silver color – I again so much wished my cousin this time would pick up a black or may be a red but no ways, I guess after certain age – all one likes is either silver or white, I am definitely never buying those ever.

One thing that we loved most about the car was its sheer size and beautiful looks. It has a mammoth boot space with ample leg space in the rear bench, even with 5 people on board it didn’t look one bit claustrophobic, enough shoulder and head room too. Its boot will swallow one whole month’s luggage of an average family, if the rear parcel tray is taken off – you can double the same and it you planned to fold the rear seats – you could actually shift your house in the car. After folding down the rear bench – we realized the space was actually perfect to fit a full 6 feet mattress in it and easily two adults and a kid can sleep in it too. That was a perfect setting for the highways when one actually wants to relax, I would definitely never sleep in a car like that as I would rather be driving than sleeping on the highways. It was a big car and parking it was an issue at least for me as the rear windshield was too small to give a clear picture of happenings in the back and seating was a bit low – me being short was another reason too. Steering wheel was quite thick and great to hold, although it was on the heavier side but it was just a matter of getting used to it and I was able to enjoy the ride in a couple of weeks time. The whole car was quite heavy and thick feel to it, even the doors closed with a deep thud and it felt quite secure, you could actually feel the tough metal by punching the body of the car, it was way too good than what I had seen on any Maruti, Hyundai or for that matter even better than a Cielo.

Chunky Steering Wheel felt damn good to hold
Features: We took the fully loaded version minus air bags cause as per my cousin we didn’t require them at that time, I guess the reason why he cut down on that was - me and my sister in law were still considered amateur drivers and insurance company wasn’t covering the refill of air bags once blown and trust me – that is still a costly affair if you ask me. It has all the features that we could name, starting from all four power windows, central locking with both keys had inbuilt remote making them too big to fit in a key chain, adjustable power steering, electrically adjusted rear view mirrors, day and night mode cabin mirror, rear defogger, company fitted stereo with 4 speakers and a remote, bottle holders on front doors, huge parcel tray with small cubicles to fit in knick knacks etc. The one feature that I disliked and didn’t find it practical was the way doors were locked from inside. Just press the door lever a little further and it will be locked, it was very risky as there was no separate lid to open or lock the door from inside like in other cars. I had to practically teach my nephew to keep his hand on the arm rest rather than anywhere near the door lever, just in case if he unlocks and opens the door while the car is moving. Although central locking feature instantly looks all the doors the moment car is cranked on still it was too secure.

I loved that slanting dash and stereo's location
Cubby Holes and Glove Compartment
Engine and power: It had a damn powerful engine 1700cc with over 100 BHP’s, still performance wise it wasn’t a sprinter as I assumed it to be. I mean there was no power or nothing to talk about in first two gears – anything below 2500 RPMs car would move like a bullock cart but once you are on 3rd gear and beyond 2500 RPM turbo kicks in and then there is no stopping it. It would easily cruise on 140 KMPH or above whole day without asking for anything. It was a manual transmission with five forward and one reverse gear. Gear lever had a very short and convenient throw right like Cielo and Accent, it felt damn well on the highways when you required quick gear changing at times to overtake. The only problem I faced in driving it was its hard accelerator, was almost as hard as a brick being pushed down. We did get it checked on servicing but I guess all the models came with that hard accelerator – as long as we had it – it was always like that. I never cared or thought of fuel economy during those days but as far as I remember it used to fetch 12-14 KMPL of Diesel with almost 80% times Air Conditioning on and slightly better on the highways which I believe was pretty good for its size. It felt sturdier on road at any speed and on any kind of surface, may it be pot holed road or nice wide highways where you would test its top speed. We did hit 160 so many times but never dared to take it beyond, although it had so much more space left between the gas pedal and floor.

Look at the rear leg space, even when the drivers
seat is set for a 6 foot driver. 
We did a lot of trips on Siena Weekend and almost took it everywhere; it was a pleasure to drive on the straight stretches of road but was a little bit challenging on hilly terrain. My cousin always told me to put it on second or third gear and keep pulling till you get up the incline and get to the top gear. It was a perfect weekend getaway vehicle – so many times we indeed will stop anywhere on any of our road trips, open the rear doors and boot, fold down the seats and have lunch inside the car – it was fun using it that ways. I guess that’s what they made it for, with those acres of space inside – you need not look for a picnic spot, stop anywhere near a good looking farm and have fun. I loved driving it day in day out and my cousin enjoyed his peaceful sleeps on the back bed. In our ownership experience of a couple of years – I don't remember even once that we had a breakdown or even a flat tire. 

Locking system was dangerous with kids on board
I met with my second major road accident while driving it back from Dehradoon one fateful night and banged it at a very high speed, almost above 100 KMPH into a Tata Safari. The car's front was totally gone with headlights, radiator, bonnet, windshield, fenders etc. But nothing untoward happened to passengers not even scratches or anything at all – with god’s grace we were all wearing seat belts. We had to take a lift from the family going on Safari till Delhi, they were kind enough to drop us home as actually it was their mistake that they stopped on the mid of road after hitting a barrier and the tail lights of their car as usual were not working. I realized that the car was actually on the mid of the road and totally stopped while we were like 50 meters away, tried breaking as hard as I could but couldn't save it from hitting the vehicle from back. While our car was skidding – an important lesson my friend gave me while teaching driving was to brake straight if in emergency and never turn the steering, if I would tried doing it right – I would have hit the oncoming truck and on left – we would have gone off road and toppled. Next day when I took the insurance and car mechanics to the site to pick up the car – they couldn't believe that we were scratch less once they saw the condition of the car and then the company guy started singing Fiat's praises of making sturdier cars, saving lives. I did believe him as I had firsthand experience of the same.

PS: Forgive me for low quality pictures as taken by my cell phone and thanks to my friend Prabuddha for letting me take pictures of his car. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hyundai Accent & Santro comes home and Tragedy Strikes (1999)

In a couple of years of Cielo ownership – we realized on our road trips that although it was a company car provided to us more like a benefit but was taking a good toll on our pockets. Although the car was a breeze to drive and was a damn good status symbol still we had to look for options – in the meantime Hyundai arrived in India and we gladly picked up two of their most sold cars namely – An Accent and a Santro. Basically Hyundai Accent was for my cousin’s use and Santro will be shared between me and my sister in law for more of home use and short trips around the city, office commute etc. The only other options for a medium sedan in India in late 90’s were either Maruti Esteem, Hyundai Accent, Cielo and Lancer, the last two being premium with more power with almost no mileage (Read between 8-10 KMPL) that too when you handle them extremely well. My cousin and I used to almost fly our cars on the highways hence we knew it that none of them would be affordable in the longer run. We couldn’t settle for a hatch back either as we needed a decent boot space too for all our trips. We had almost a couple of trips lined up every month hence a hatch back was out of question. That’s why finally we had to settle for Hyundai Siblings, one for the highways and one for city drive.

I for one, always wanted to buy a Red car and this was my opportunity to grab one with both hands, that too a brand new Hyundai Santro, which was recently launched and unfortunately wasn’t accepted that well for its weird looks. I still remember WagonR by Maruti and Santro by Hyundai were equally hated for their odd looks still they survived and now when we look at the numbers that they sold in last so many years – it just amazes me. Both were based on the tall boy design that you need to actually slide in the car, getting out and in was such a breeze. With its height advantage driving them too was a breeze; the view even for a short guy like me was excellent. My cousin wanted a Beige color Accent and we had booked a Red Santro. The day we got the call for delivery of the vehicles – I was too excited but then it turned out to be sad too as they told us that the Red color was out of stock and if we had to take the delivery of the car on the same day it had to be both Silvers or we need to wait for couple of more weeks. It was almost mid March and I guess some depreciation advantage was their too hence we were forced to take both cars in Silver color only. But that anyways didn’t dampen my spirit of getting a brand new car as soon as I got the keys in my hand. We took the top model of Accent with all the bells and whistles available at that time like Tilt Steering, Manually adjustable rear view mirrors, central locking, some company fitted stereo which wasn’t that great in quality, all four power windows, power brake so on so forth. On the other hand the Santro that we too was the very basic model with no power steering, no stereo, no power windows, no body color bumpers or door handles not even adjustable rear view mirrors, it had only driver side rear view mirror that too should be adjusted by hand and there wasn’t even a bloody lid to do that from inside. So if it rained and you needed to adjust it – you had to first roll down the window manually, adjust the mirror, roll up the window and that was painful. Although Santro was a small car but still now power steering did help me develop some muscles while parking it and taking it out of the parking slot.

Hyundai Santro
Delivery Process: Since my cousin was out of town, me and my friend went to take the delivery of the vehicle and we had all the papers like “power of attorney”, bank loan documents etc in place. To my amazement it took us one full day to take the delivery as we went almost around 11 am and if I am not wrong, by the time we got the delivery it was already 7.30 PM and even they were almost ready to close the show room as soon as we left. This was my first delivery of a brand new vehicle hence I wasn’t at all prepared but my friend was quite an expert and it all went smooth cause of him only. Finally as soon as we got the keys – I took the Santro keys and zipped out of the showroom with my friend in Accent followed me but in no time he over took me and I was way behind him on our way to Noida where we stayed.

Hyundai Santro Interiors - Nothing great to talk about
Hyundai Santro: My first experience of driving a Santro was quite good, up till now all I had driven were the likes of M800, Zen, Esteem and Cielo. This was quite a breeze in comparison to all those cars. Obviously you cannot compare the power or BHP’s but what I am saying is the ease of driving. For its size the 1100cc engine with 65 BHPs is too good. It was quite a zippy drive and it will do 100 in almost no time at all, since it had no power steering I found it more stable than its Maruti counterpart. Had no idea of its mileage initially and later we found out after a couple of weeks of driving and two service down the line that it was giving us around 12-14 in city drive. I am sure it gave us pretty better than that on the highways too as very soon we took it to quite a few long drives as it had enough space for our family of 3 adults and one kid with decent luggage space in its small boot. Because of its size and better clearance – parking it was easy too as you needed hardly any space to drag it in, it would easily fit in a space which was enough for two bikes. I remember we once took it all the way to Jammu from Delhi because no other car was available and we had to go at any cost. It was quite a quick drive and we never faced any issue neither while going or coming back – the only issue was my friends right foot which got swollen cause he would not let me drive at all throughout the way. I personally took it to Dehradoon and Mussorie couple of times and never had any issues in driving – coming back on the same day as my nephew got admitted in one of the schools and as a rule we had to visit him every alternate weekend. The highway wasn’t that bad – although mostly single road but still quite manageable, we used to leave early and return by mid night after spending full day with him.

Hyundai Accent
Hyundai Accent: I somehow never liked Accent in comparison to its counterparts like Esteem, Lancer or Cielo, this too was a 1500cc engine with almost 90 BHPs like all of the others. Even after driving it for quite a few weeks I realized it wasn’t as zippy as an Esteem, neither it had a great air conditioning nor a fantastic feel while driving. As per my cousin it did gave him driving pleasure of some sort which I never got from it, still it was quite light in comparison to Lancer and Cielo. Although it’s chunky steering with tilt control was awesome as it felt thick and heavy. It was quite an underpowered car and I hated it on the highways – especially on the hilly drives. I noticed even my cousin would toggle with the Air Conditioning switch too often while going around the hills rather than down shifting. We had done the same drives in our other cars and they never felt this sluggish to tell you the truth. Space wise it was quite a good car with ample of leg space front and back, a damn good boot, other features like a rear defogger, fog lights, day and night cabin mirror, child lock etc were present but it didn’t make it an impressive package. Even on economy front Accent did take a beating from others – we never got anything above 12 KMPL in city and some 13-14 on the highways on 100% AC. Driving it on straight roads was good but even then while over taking you do need to down shift, that was quite a pain – all this while we compared it with Cielo which was such a breeze to drive – you could easily overtake a vehicle even on top gear without the hassle of down shifting. But that I guess that’s what its premium price stood for. There was no concept of ABS or Air Bags at that time and I guess it took them quite a few years to launch the same in India.

Hyundai Accent Interiors
Tragedy: It wasn’t even 15 days that we took both those two cars and a tragedy stuck. My cousin as I mentioned earlier had travelled out of town – called one fine morning and I had to go to pick him up from the Airport early in the morning. I wasn’t too keen on going on this drive that early – mind it – New Delhi airport is quite a distance from Noida hence I called my friend who was with me while we took the delivery of the cars and as both of us were born car maniacs – we never used to say No to any drives – anytime of the day and that rule applies even today – I never say no to driving still. We decided I will drive while we go to the airport and he gets to drive on the way back since my cousin who was like 15 years elder to both of us would anyways want any of us to drive than him. As we left Noida there was a sharp left turn around Noida Film City which I used to take around 80-90 KMPH on Cielo, so I asked my friend “What do u think, would this (Accent) take it the same way our Cielo used to take?” I had a track of taking that sharp turn while tyres screeched and made damn good noise. As both of us used to smoke – usually the windows were rolled down too hence making it livelier. I guess that day we were not destined to have the fun of new car screeching, my friend said “Don’t even try that stunt in this one, I am telling you”, and I paid no heed to his view, thought he would never accept me as a good driver hence I paddled the accelerator a little bit more taking it to 90 KMPH I guess, the turn came, he grabbed the roof handle to stay straight on the seat, I too twisted the steering slightly to left taking the turn, car screeched, tyres burned……………and bang!!! Suddenly I felt as if car moved below us and as I tried reaching for the brakes – Bang!! It hit the divider on right from front – swerved a 180 Degrees and hit the divider again from left and came to a halt. With traffic coming behind us – we could actually see their shocking faces asking “What the heck were you trying to do dude?” and that’s that!!

That was my first accident ever and don’t even ask me how much was the estimate given by the Hyundai Workshop. But it did bloody took them close to 45 days to repair the car and deliver it back to us.

Speed Thrills But Kills – if not – it does screws the car guys so Drive Safe.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Daewoo Cielo - A dream fulfilled (1998)

We did not had to wait long to upgrade those cars that we drove for good couple of years. My cousin sold off all of his Fiats, 118 NE and even he dumped new Maruti 800 and took a used Maruti Zen from a friend of his as he wasn’t using it much. Now Zen was a better powered car than M800, its Air Conditioning and stereo too was too good. Although this car too lacked so many basic features like power windows, power steering, lousy braking, almost no boot space etc. As he actually got appointed as Financial Advisor to one of the US based Largest Consulting Company based in Noida. Other than the basic benefits company offered him as a consultant – the one thing that we both loved was the spanking brand new car offered to him and that happened to be a DCM Daewoo Cielo. Launched that year only it was an eye candy of all the rich and the famous who could not afford an imported car at that point of time. The only other sedan in India which came any closure to Cielo was Maruti Esteem and any other cars being launched were at least a year away.
Daewoo Cielo
The car came with a driver; we both were almost drooling on day 1 – just by looking at the car. It was silver in color and looked Gorgeous, just look at the picture and tell me, what you feel. It was huge from all standards, call it the size, the boot, the hood, its engine and everything about it was big and damn good. It was a 1500cc with a 90 BHP Engine. Its bonnet was so huge that 2-3 people can definitely sit on it and party. You could actually use it as a dining table on a road side dhaba – if you do not intend to go inside – we indeed did that couple of times on our road trips and it was too much fun, just open the bonnet and fix up something small on the bonnet and it can be used as a table. This car was an instant success right from the day it was launched because it offered so many unique features which were never offered by any car company in India. i.e. All four Power Windows, the switches to operate windows were in the central console right below the handbrake – a unique location although it was a little inconvenient for the rear passengers but nobody ever mind that. The features I loved most were a little different like the adjustable steering, as I am not too tall – I loved the low lying steering and my cousin will always push it back to adjust his tummy below the steering. It had illuminated cigarette lighter, the moment you took the lighter out there will be blue light flashing from the lighter – very convenient in night driving as it directed where to put the lighter back if you were driving alone and needed to light up your cigarette. Electrically adjusted rear view mirrors were a first too. Although it had no remote opening but the central locking on the driver side lock was a good feature, at least all the doors can be locked by just twisting one key. The day we had a flat tyre – I saw its another damn good offering in the form of a hydraulic jack. It was such an easy task to put up the car on jack that even a kid could turn the jack without any effort, just that you needed to know where to fix the jack on the running board. I totally loved it. I indeed bought the same jack from the market and kept it in other cars too for its ease of use.
The cars that we had driven before Cielo were all hatch back smaller ones or at best a friends esteem. When you compare a Cielo’s power with these cars – it was outstanding. As company claimed it could hit a 100 KMPH mark in just 11 seconds – guess we were able to do it faster than that for sure. As my cousin was a speed freak and I was in my 20’s so you can imagine how we must be flying that car everywhere. We never bothered to check its mileage though but as far as I remember my cousin told me it used to give us around 8-9 per liter of petrol. The other Director of the company claimed that his Cielo was giving somewhere around 5-6 only. Since it was a company car, all they were required to do is to get to a fuel pump where company had an account, just instruct the attendant to fill up the tank, sign a slip and relax. It was taken care by the accounts department, such was the luxury – so who would be bothered. The only botheration was when we hit the highways on our personal trips that we realize it was burning holes in our pockets in the name of luxury and low mileage. But wherever we went it was surely a head turner and no one ever raced with us on the highways. Barring a very few Mercs or Beamers at that time. The boot of the car was monstrous, we never felt out of space ever. Three adults could easily fit on the rear bench which was more like a sofa than a regular car seat. Driving this car was a pleasure. Since it had that hydraulic power steering and we had no experience whatsoever till that time driving a car with one, we almost screeched and burnt rubber on all the corners of the town, sometimes by mistake but sometimes intentionally. I loved that sound and had already marked some sharp corners of Noida where I could do that stunt and impress my friends by the sheer power and sound of the car. I always made sure that all the windows were rolled down so they could actually hear the sound pretty clearly.
The car came with 5 forward and one reverse gear and it had a manual transmission, I don’t even remember if it came with a auto box at that time. But its reverse gear was a little unique. You had to lift the underside of the gear up before pushing it on the slot further left to the first gear, once reversed just press the clutch and pull it back without pushing the lever and it will come back to neutral. We had to teach that to everybody who drove the car initially as on first trial – no one ever got it correctly. I wonder why company did like that but now I feel it was great securities feature that you couldn’t put it on reverse by mistake anyways. The car was damn powerful, 90 horses pulling it all the time was too good. We were able to achieve the top speed in no time at all. It was a damn good car to speed up on the highways and was too good on hilly rides too as I personally never felt under powered on any of the occasions. Even the 30 odd KMS drive from Dehradoon to Mussorrie which was like total hill drive – I used to do with quite an ease. Once the car is in top gear – it almost behaved like an automatic – right from 50 KMPH to 120 KMPH – you can pull it easily in the same gear. Even while overtaking – doing down shift was hardly required.
Look at the short gear lever and space below stereo.
I still remember my nephew who was almost 4-5 years got me into a fix when he asked his dad on one of our highway trips “Dad, what’s the speed that you are driving?” he proudly told him “Son, we are almost doing a 100” to which he replied with a little frustration in his voice “What Dad? Chachu does 120 always on this road”. Bang! He was shocked to hear that and gave me that menacing look, but then I realized that he did floored the accelerator a little bit more to beat my record.
The very first day that we got this car, we instantly set the driver free for the weekend, packed our bags and went on a little trip to Meerut which was like a 90 KMS from Noida. To meet my cousin’s parents and show them our new acquisition. It was quite a pleasant drive and fun to be in it on a long trip. Later we almost covered all the hill stations around Delhi within a year like Mussorie, Nainital, Simla and a couple of more places. My cousin was a born Roadie and he almost went everywhere driving in those junk cars of his. After this – he made it a point to go anywhere and everywhere by car only. Even I waited anxiously for my turn to drive too. As my duty was to drop my nephew to school, pick him back from school, go shopping on the weekends, and drop my cousin to airport whenever he went out of town. And once he was out of town – I was the Boss of the car and would take all my friends on a drive. I loved those days. We did have so much fun with the car as long as it lasted.
One instance with the car that I could never forget was its repairs. One fine day we faced some problem with its wiper blades. As we had an office in an industrial area where there were too many car workshops around. I just drove in to a Maruti Authorized Workshop, being neighbors their chief mechanic agreed to check the car and work out the solution. He tried his level best for good twenty minutes but couldn’t open the wiper blades, then he called couple of his assistants and they all tried their level best but in vain. Finally I had to take the car to the service station and when I told them what happened at Maruti workshop they just smiled and told me that “Sir, this isn’t a Maruti, after all” and the problem - trust me – was corrected in flat ten minutes.  During our first long distance drive to Gwalior, we had to stay there for couple of days, one fine day the car won’t start at all. We called the customer support and to our shock they told us that the car came with a factory fitter catalytic converter and we were supposed to fill unleaded petrol only and to my knowledge during those days the unleaded fuel was mostly available in Metros only and it was our mistake that we drove it out of town and started filling the regular fuel cause of non availability of unleaded hence the outcome. Finally we had to get a converter from the company and had to arrange for a guy to deliver and install. Poor guy came with two huge cans of unleaded fuel too, fix the new converter, refueled the car and gave it to us with new set of instructions. Yeah! We had to bear all the cost, which was a shocker. Later that problem was finally rectified as I remember that we never faced that issue ever down the line.
One of my close friends still has that car, unfortunately Daewoo went bankrupt and there were no takers at that time in India to take it over. Hence its plant in Surajpur near Noida is in ruins now. Although their smaller model car was later taken over by General Motors and became one of the most sold cars in India but unfortunately there were no takers for Cielo. Such a fantastic car got trashed cause of the poor management of the company. I so much wish it was still there in the market – it could have done wonders on the sales for sure if it was managed properly. Anyways! Such was our super experience with the car.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


I had to live 5 more years with my dreams before the final moment came and I was set free to decide my own future. I had been waiting for this moment for ages - that's how I felt like. Summer of 96, I graduated and with first class results, my dad gave me an option to either pursue PG or join my cousin in New Delhi and pursue Chartered Accountancy. I gladly took the second option and June 10th 1996, I reached Delhi with my brother, who came to see me off. The very first thing I wanted to see was to go to "India Gate" and check it out in real. Had seen it so many times in movies and television that I just couldn’t wait to see it in real - but that had to wait - as we took a bus straight to Noida from New Delhi station. I totally loved that ride - that's one memory I fail to forget - not that - I want to forget but it’s always fresh in my memory as if it happened yesterday. I still cannot forget the sight of "Noida Gol Chakkar" (Noida crossroad was a big circle) as it was called earlier - a huge round about right at the entry point of Noida. It’s no more their now as a traffic signal has taken its place now and Delhi metro goes on an elevated surface now a days. I tried but couldn’t even find a picture on internet of that time. I would have loved to put it here.

Anyways, with so many dreams I finally landed in my city of dreams and a great future awaited me here, so I thought. My cousin who was already running his own company had some plans for me too. Although I was more interested in the fleet of cars he had at that time, it included one Ambassador, a Fiat, his favorite old boy Padmini Premier 118NE was still there in his garage and was one of the most frequently used car. We all loved that car so much because it was the only one with air conditioning. It was a little too old for its age and was slowly and steadily moving towards its retirement and soon enough my nephew who I guess was hardly five or six years old dropped a bomb on him one day and that was that.

I still remember that day when me, my cousin, his wife and my cool nephew were going on a Saturday evening outing to Connaught Place (Delhi) in his worn out Padmini Premier 118 NE and as we stopped at Noida roundabout, The moment traffic signal turned green a couple of cars whoosh past us and my cousin was still flooring the paddle hard to run, only after a couple of kilometers we did manage to overtake some of them as he usually loved driving fast and mind it! We never met an accident till he kept sitting on the driver’s seat. My nephew then was hardly in class 2nd asked him “Papa, why do all these guys keep on over taking us? Is our car khatara? (Obsolete)” and that was it. I could see that in his eyes that this car is going to be trashed soon as soon as he can get a new one.

Oops, what a mistake that child had done that day unknowingly, it almost cost us all the savings my cousin had for the second floor he was planning to build. It hurt his ego very badly and he being one of those guys who can do anything under the sun for his son at whatever cost. Next day morning I saw him gone past me in the office telling me that he will be back by evening and I was ordered to collect some 8 – 10 good old classic songs cassettes and pack the bags as we were going out for a long drive, I had no clue why and how and where? Anyways we packed our bags and waited eagerly for the evening – as there were no cell phones at that time, so we actually couldn’t call him and ask – what was he up to. He came back around 5 O clock in the evening – driving a brand new car. I can never ever forget his bright shining eyes that evening with that 800 watt smile he had on his face when we were really shocked, happy, thrilled, jumped and touched the car as if it was a new born baby and needed some cuddling and loving from our side. My cousin was quite over weight and used to sweat a lot. He took the then top model available which was a deluxe one with an Air Conditioner which was hardly effective in Delhi’s summer; still the current model of the same car too isn’t having that great Air Conditioning.

We were all proud and happy with our smiles flashing from ear to ear. My sister in law performed a quick prayer and we set out on our drive to Simla overnight. My nephew was thrilled that his dad was overtaking almost all the cars on the highway and my cousin was always making sure to look at our faces as he beat all the cars, trucks, buses - took special care that he didn’t go overboard on speed. Now, with 37 horse powered engine that the company had given to this small car was more than enough to carry our small family of 4 to places, mileage was not at all an issue – although he never bothered to check, but it gave us more than 20 on the highways with his driving and close to 16-17 on the city roads. We easily clocked 100 KMPH in no time at all. Almost with 37 horses pulling the load they have put in the car, I was surprised by the cars pick up and the sound it will make once we really race it ahead on the red lights. While he drove it with ease but I had issues of pulling up the car once he was on the passenger side, I found that car was dragging once he was in and without him I used to feel as if it was flying. May be he was too heavy. Although we never felt a need to have a power steering in such a small car, but the shock absorbers were good being a brand new car as I remember I will always ignore that there were some speed breakers on the road and we almost jumped so many of them, car did land with a mild thud but we never broke anything anytime, yeah he always complained that the alignment must have gone out after all those high jumps. But me being a new driver was given a benefit of doubt.

Surprisingly the brakes were better than our oldie as it had front Disk and rear drum brakes. In the history of my driving – I never got an opportunity to skid or scramble both – but with this new baby – I did some skidding to show off friends – I loved that screeching sound – thanks to the disk brakes and did some scrambling too – thanks to the nice pick up. At that time it always felt as if I am driving a Ferrari cause of its pick up when almost all of my friends had either a bike or a Scooter to their credit. Mine was still a Car.

Air Conditioning was not at all efficient as I could see my cousin sweating profusely even after turning both the AC ducts towards his face and this was one point where we used to miss our good old NE as its AC was a lot better than Maruti’s, getting inside the car too was an issue for him – as he was maintaining his huge pot belly throughout the last 20 years, the moment he will sit on the driver’s seat, the car will tilt to the right side and he will instruct us to sit on the extreme left side of the car, me, my sis in law and the little angel to keep the balance. Stereo which we got fitted was good enough to play the cool songs. And the dash board glove compartment was quite ok to hold 10 – 12 odd cassettes and the car documents. I still remember the Compact Disc Players were a luxury at that time and no one had them fitted in the car yet.

It came with puny tyres but with my friends help we got them all replaced with Radials at a very meager exchange price right then and believe me it looked so cool to reverse park it with the steering positioned on extreme right, when the front right wheel will be out and will be showing its width proudly, at that time it was a thing but pretty soon every other car came with a company fitted radial tyres.

Boot was nothing great to talk about but just about OK to hold a couple of normal family size suitcase – we always used to put in the suitcase first than close the boot door and rest of the hand bags and air bags we will stuff from inside - that ways you can make the full utilization of the space and later we will beat up the hang bags so that my cousin could still see the little bit of traffic on his cabin mirror. Fuel tank capacity was 28 liters and Maruti has still maintained the same capacity tanks for their all 800 models even today as they knew its going to give good mileage, hence no point putting a big tank and take up much space. Easy to drive and maneuver in the congested city road, parking it was a kids game – as after learning driving on a Padmini Premier that too, a quite wider one – this was like a left hand task for me.

Maintenance wise it was a clear winner – we spent nothing in the initial couple of years – apart from the regular service and a little things I used to break but that will be inside the bracket of a thousand rupee per service including Engine, Oil Filter, Washing, Vacuuming etc. One of my very close friends happened to be a spare parts dealer in the city and I was glad to know that almost all the parts of the car were so damn cheap and easily available. With so many authorized service centers in almost every city. We had no issues in driving it down to any part of the country. We almost visited Simla, Mussorrie, Nainital, Chandigarh, Amritsar etc in it and never faced any breakdown or any issues at all.

That sums up my first hand experience with a car right after I learned driving.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

My Trip on a Maruti 800

(1991): I did not have to wait long for my next greatest road trips - the one which had all the more bigger reasons why I could never forget it. It was because my cousin got married on the same day, the day India's one of the best Prime Ministers was Assassinated. Rajiv Gandhi, was killed by a suicide bomber on 21st May 1991, the night we were dancing at my cousin's marriage. We had this trip two weeks prior to the fateful day. I learned one big word from English dictionary that day, "Assassination" I never knew what it meant earlier.
Maruti 800: As it looked in 1984

One of my Uncles, who was financially well off and he recently returned from one of his abroad trips. He end up buying his first car which happened to be India's most sold car then. It was a very small hatch back called Maruti 800. As its engine was an 800 CC 35 BHP, it was called the same. It was such a small car that only four adults could hardly sit in it and an average kid could adjust too on the back seat. Surprisingly it was a breeze to drive, I realized that during this trip of ours. As my cousin who was a damn good driver, was driving it with such panache that he actually enjoyed driving the little on a highway.

As we stayed around 200 KMS from where my uncle had settled. His wife along with her son drove to our place to invite us for the marriage. My Dad and Mom couldn't go immediately hence I was sent with them as the family representative and they promised to join us a week later. I was 15 years old and "Cars" were my favorite topic of discussion, followed by movies and music as they were my high priorities too. Even today  the story remains same. Now this trip, I was looking forward to - for quite a while, reason being - first they recently returned from Nigeria and my eldest cousin picked up some damn good movies on VHS on their way back and second obviously the car that they recently bought.

Maruti 800 was initially launched in the year 1984 in India. It was conceptualized and designed by the then Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi's youngest son Sanjay Gandhi. It was finally produced by Maruti from India in a joint venture with Suzuki Motors Japan hence called Maruti Suzuki in India. The car was criticized big time before its launch, that it will not be capable of driving 4-5 adults to a long distance and would be very risky to drive. But the launch and following success - I guess, even Suzuki had not dreamed of. In no time, it became one of the most successful cars ever made in India, for more then a decade it ruled the sales charts and when their own second car came, In 1994 it became the second car to beat Maruti 800's record. Although not in production anymore. It became the dream come true for almost every Indian family falling in the category of "Middle Class Income Group".

We started quite early in the morning as we had to travel almost 200 Kilometers. We had hardly any luggage hence it fitted the cars small boot quite well. As I sat on the rear seat, the first thing I realized was that it was quite a small car yet had enough space for 5 regular size people to fit in. I was the only one on back and my Aunt sat ahead with her Son as he was quite a rash driver and was famous in our family for over speeding. As soon as we hit the highway, he hit the top gear of his 5 speed car with four forward and one reverse. In no time we crossed 100 KMPH and my Aunt started giving him warnings, to keep it at that and to not to go beyond it. Another thing I loved about that car was - it hardly made any noise or vibrated. For its size, the stability was quite good. My cousin set me up for a number game and had me count the trucks that we overtook, for the first hour till we took the tea break. As per my last count we had overtaken some 90 odd trucks in an hour and half and hit the half way mark of our journey.

As told by my cousin, the car had average pulling power but very good mileage. He was getting more than 20 KMS per liter of petrol and I guess that was quite economical, convenient and faster than traveling in a train. We took a break and he suggested the next stage of the game. Now as we took a tea and snacks break in a roadside dhaba. I had to keep an eye and count the trucks passing through the dhaba on the highway :). We were there for about 25 odd minutes and as we started again we were over taken by some 50 odd trucks. I wasn't happy with the speed we were traveling in because as fast as we traveled, my journey was coming to an end and I just loved going on and on, on the straight highway with nice summer morning breeze hitting us from all the windows rolled down. And I actually never wanted to end it. Not any sooner at least.

Maruti 800: As it looks today.
I simply loved the way my cousin was sprinting on the straight open road with no vehicles and will come right behind an on going truck or a bus, slightly swerve towards the right to check out the oncoming traffic and then squeeze in the space,  quickly go up the gears and overtake the truck in a jiffy as the oncoming vehicle caught up the gap. It was at times scary but adrenaline pumping too. Later I realized we had more fun on the highway cause my Aunt dozed off and was hooked to the seat with the seat belts. We crossed all the Small Hills, Jungles, Villages, Farms and finally hit our destination. Although I never wanted to reach and wished the journey would just go on and on. But as all good things had to come to an end, this too came quite quick to my surprise. But it was a damn good ride and the one that I could never forget. Even after 20 years, as I type this, it feels as if we did that trip just yesterday.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My Love For Cars

(1988): Being born in a middle class family has its own advantages and disadvantages. Bad part is that you don't get everything you dream off but the good part is - the feeling that you get, when your most cherished dream comes true. People born with those things can never feel that - I can guarantee you that. But I guess they will have their own set of dreams too, isn't it? Anyways, that brings us back to my dream. As a 12 year old, I always wanted my dad to buy a car but I think with a family of 6 and he being the sole earner - it was a distant dream even for him at that stage of our life. None of our relatives in the radius of 500 KMS owned a car.

Every new car company that launched its product in India would set me thinking whether we can have that in any near future. At that time the options were pretty limited. I almost read everything I could lay my hands on - about any new car launched. Maruti Suzuki had launched its small car couple of years back. It was criticized earlier for its size and power. People believed that it won't be able to drive for long with 4-5 people on board. But it turns out to be a grand success and sells pretty well and acquires a major market share in no time. Than there were Fiats, Ambassadors and Hindustan Motors with their classic Contessa's etc, they were the more expensive ones.
In between I got a great news that my cousin who lived in Delhi, up north was visiting us for summer vacations with his family. He happens to be one hell of a driver and goes every where driving his own car. Now that had me thinking and dreaming of what was in store for me in the upcoming weeks as they arrive. I had no idea what car he had and there was no way I could find out either. No option but to wait for them.

The day of their arrival comes soon and one fine day almost late in the evening - I hear the honking right in front of our house. As I sprint to the main door, what I see is a spanking brand new Premier 118NE that too Maroon in color. It was quite late and cause of hardly any street light - it almost looks like brownish in color. I instantly and automatically fell in love with its wide bonnet and those rectangular lights. Seeing it parked right outside our house - was a sight which remained etched in my memory for quite a long time. Every now and then - I would just walk out of the house and stand with the car, look here and there to make sure some of our neighbors should notice me with the car. My happiness had no boundaries that whole week.

Next day morning as we woke up, all I wanted to do was to jump in the car and go for a drive as soon as possible. I guess my cousin who recently got married and was quite young himself sensed that, obliged us with a quick short drive of the town as he needed to fill the tank too. That one short drive was good enough for me to visualize myself owning the same "one day" and go on a cross country drive all day long as long as I can. It was one of the greatest and happiest day of my life as we went on to drive around the town. I kept on showing him everything around, my school, the only swimming pool of our town, huge court building, a small zoo, couple of theaters, my friends houses which came in between. I Kept hoping that some of my friends would notice me but that did not happen.

I had no idea about the cars specifications and neither I was interested. I was way too happy to see him drive with an ease. The way he turned the steering with one hand and kept the other hand on the window all the time. He will use his right hand only when he needed to shift the gears with his left. It looked like such a breeze and easy thing to drive and to my surprise when I asked him "how long will it take for me to learn driving", he shockingly offered "why don't you finish your graduation and come over to delhi, you can do your post graduation from there, help me with the business and learn / drive cars too". I wish I graduated that day only so I could go along to delhi but my graduation was I guess 8 more years away.

One thing for sure confirmed that day, that I was surely going to Delhi - come what may on my way. This town isn't going to keep me interested for long where my dad bought his home and planned to settle permanently. Not that I wasn't happy or something. I had some best of friends too from whom I was inseparable. But when it comes to fulfilling a long term dream - I guess I was hell bent on doing anything for it.

Monday, April 30, 2012

My first road trip.

(1983) I was in my 3rd standard when my Dad - a Banker, got his first transfer. The first that I could have remembered. As my elder brother told me - we all loved those transfers when my Dad will get big wooden boxes and all we were supposed to do was pack all our stuff as soon as we could and mark the boxes appropriately before the movers will come with a big lorry and take the boxes along. I loved the smell of those wooden boxes as it felt like freshly made specially for our packing and moving. They always glowed orange in color and one needs to be very careful to not to touch them bare handed or you may get some rashes cause of the rough surface of the wood. Don't know what kind of planks they were made off.

My Mom hated these transfers as I could tell from their arguments and my Dads excitement for the new city and challenge ahead. I could sense that he was always over excited about moving to new places - may be he was a born nomad who couldn't settle anywhere. I couldn't tell as may be I was too young but I actually loved that feeling to go away from home for a new home which I could never imagine how it would be. I loved all my bus rides and always loved peeking out of the window to see where we were going. While the bus almost overtook everything on the road. I always wanted to sit next to the driver to see the road ahead but I guess my Dad never liked the idea and usually I was made to sit on the centre of the vehicle from where the road was hardly visible but still I loved those passing farms, trees and the vehicles that the bus would anyways overtake.

It came as a surprise and indeed a great one at that, as my Dad declared that we would neither be taking a train nor a bus to the next destination that we were going to be for the next three years of our upcoming life - as in a Bankers job, one usually gets transferred every three years. So how would we be going? We will be driven in a car. I can't seriously put my happiness in words here. Although I was too young but still sitting inside a car and traveling 200 km at a stretch with windows rolled down on a hot summer day was way too exciting for me. But I guess my Mom wasn't at all happy.

My two elder brothers were already busy making their own plans as to what all they are going to do while traveling. They never let me be a part of their gang and I was always left out with Mom as a full time dedicated helper to her. But it made me feel important to be of any use to her. I felt more closer to her, to be always around her. We all waited with the bated breath for the D day to arrive. Our school session had already finished and I guess the documentation was already done, as my Mom made me bid goodbye to our class teacher vimal sir, who I hated like hell cause he would never let me sit with my favorite classmate and will always make me sit with a doctor's dumb son, whose mother played a major part in my taking birth in this planet - so I was told.

The long awaited day finally arrived. The lorry got loaded with our stuff. We bid the final good bye to our damn good neighbors and grandparents. We were too excited for the new life that we never actually realized what we were leaving behind but, when I now look back - it makes me think we were too young to understand it anyways. My most cherished dream arrived in the form of a white ambassador car with a very happy sardar driver. Who I think was as happy to take us for the drive as we were. The car was loaded quickly. The lorry was already gone as driver said that they won't be going too fast anyways and we will be able to catch up with them in couple of hours. That's when I realized the total travel is going to take some 6 or 7 hours. Even that made me double happy as longer the better.

Finally, the journey starts. First we clear off our colony, where we had lived for quite a while. As far as I remember, we all were born here only and that's why till the end of the road almost everyone to my surprise knew our Dad and Mom. Finally, after the first railway crossing the site of the state highway gave us the feeling that our journey had actually started. Once the train passed and we all waved at the unknown passengers as tradition goes, we moved on. First time sitting on the front seat of a car was too exciting for me. All I remember now is the big sardarji twisting and turning the huge steering wheel of the car. It had another small steel steering inside the big one, which he banged quite often and the car honked with every bang. I so much wanted to push it once, but never could gather all my guts to do it. The long stretch of road was a memory which I could never forget. The only vehicles I could see were a couple of bicycle riders, a bullock cart now and then and a couple of trucks sometimes. It was way too good.

Next what I remember is, I dozed off somewhere watching the road on my dad's lap who was with me all this while and I was woken up by the exciting voices of my elder brothers offering me a limca bottle, as it was too hot and it looked like we were taking a break on our journey. I was shocked to know that we had come half the way already, as obviously I lost the count of time - as if I knew how to see time on a watch :). We had some samosa's with limca. I did not like it that much as it was way too tangy, but the great trick that my bro taught me that day, to close the bottle top with your fingers and shake the bottle vigorously and then let go of your fingers a little. The cold drink shot in a spray and it was damn funny. I almost finished a two third of my bottle that ways and drank the remaining. It was a fun break.

I tried my level best to stay awake for the rest of the journey and could see some bridges over the river, where we were allowed to throw some coins. A couple of hills passed too, some never ending farms, a factory with bad stench and bang!!! I dozed again.
Finally, we reach our destination. I woke up to the commotion and realized that even the lorry had arrived, the boxes were unloaded to our new house which was the ground floor of an apartment. It was very heartening for me to pick up my little bag from the front seat of the car before sardarji took it away. This was my final opportunity to get inside and press that little steel steering to blow the horn - I did it quickly, afraid of getting caught red handed doing something I was not supposed to do - but nothing happened. I couldn't hear a thing, tried again - but no!! It just won't budge.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Like Father Like Son.

(Year 1979): As far as I can go down the memory lane. I have hardly any memories of our road trips, but one trip that I have some vague memories of, was this one that we did I guess in late 70's. When my dad again got transferred from a small town called Jaisinagar (Sagar) to bhopal. I am sure cause of those genes and blood - it excites me to go everywhere as long as I can go Driving. I got that one thing too from my dad other than love for western music and movies.
Dad and mom got all the stuff packed and shipped to our new location and decided to do a road trip on my dads scooter. That was I think a 1964 Bajaj. Now when I look back and talk to them about it - it actually sounds unbelievable. Never knew my dad was that adventurous. Everything except his music system which as per my mom "was his heartbeat" he packed and shipped. He actually tied the two big speakers of his Phillips Record Player (LP) to the spare wheel on the back of the scooter - well packed and covered for safety. My elder two brothers were already picked by my uncle as obviously we all couldn't have done that trip of around 155 KMS in a scooter together. I was only 3- 4 years old hence had to be with them.

We set off right after our break fast and with very heavy heart my mom said good bye to our nice house on the basement was the bank where my dad used to work. It wasn't a very big branch or something. I remember we had to climb down a huge flight of stairs to see him and hand him over the lunch boxes and I could never forget that guard posted on the main door with a huge double barrel gun on his shoulder. His mustache was huge and although he always smiled looking at me but it was a terrifying feeling going close to him.

My dad was wearing a helmet with big goggles inside them as if he was actually going to fly the scooter. He was looking very funny. Mom was ready too in her bell bottom pants and a hat on the head. She looked sweet. I loved standing in front on the foot rest holding the handle of the scooter and my dad allowed me to press the horn button from time to time. It was great fun seeing the open road and oncoming traffic. Although my dad was a very conscious rider - he hardly ever went above the speed of 50 KMPH. - I liked that flickering needle on speedometer showing how fast we were going.

As we kept going straight on the road suddenly due to the speed and wind my moms hat flew above her head and we had to take a break so she could run back and pick up her hat, which was lying on the mid of the road. As we parked on side of the road and mom went back to pick it up. A mischievous monkey dropped from a tree and picked it and vanished up on a tree quickly. That was fun. They tried their level best to shout and throw some pebbles on him but he just won't budge and we decided to move on without it.

As usual I was too young to remember much and was about to doze off standing in front when my dad realized and sent me back on mothers lap to sleep, while he rode all the way. I slept peacefully on my mothers lap as they kept talking about the things loudly on the way to my granny's home. We almost reached after lunch hours and my grand father wasn't too happy with dads decision of riding all the way but he was glad that we made it on time. All my uncles were admiring his ride and dad stood right there with his scooter proud like a hero who returned from war after killing all the enemies.

I guess it was the journey of a life time for me and the one that I could never forget. That I believe inspires me to do my road trips today and I so much love them.