Goan Zest



Her scream from inside the car on any other day would have caused a scarecrow three miles away to jump in fear. Or so it seemed to me. I was at the wheel of a TATA Zest.

Its was a small road. A cowherd and his set of buffaloes were walking towards us, on our lane. I had steered the car to stay a safe distance away from the buffaloes. As we crosses them, one buffalo, on a whim moved to the centre of the road and swung his tail to hit the rear view mirror on the left. A couple of feet from where Nandita is sitting.  The sound was deceptively deafening. No collateral damage to the car. The last I saw the buffalo, there seemed to be none there either.

I could have sworn the bloody thing was premeditated. For as we passed the cowherd, his more than mischievous smile was on ineffable display. Nandita, fresh from the scream, expressed some rather pleasant thoughts she had for the cowherd and his buffalo. I spotted the cowherd’s trudge on the rear view mirror. He seemed to be on a song, while I was shaken.

The three of us, Nandita, Neha were the trio that was testing out the TATA Zest. Some more context and details are here.  This is my second and final post that I had promised. A review of a car(or for that matter, any product) on the blog, is something that I have never done and I barely have knowledge of automobiles as a nursery kid would have of the constitution. Or any other fat book, for that matter.  Earlier today, I asked myself how I wanted this blogpost to read. I wrote ‘precise, honest and flowing’. And then, I don’t know what got me to write ‘Clarkson’.

Car reviews with a soul, bring the visage of Jeremy Clarkson to my mind. None else. .

For several years, Top Gear was my favourite program on BBC. On all of TV, for that matter. Jeremy Clarkson James May and Richard Hammond, held attention in a rather unbridled sort of a way that escaped adjectives. Gripping drama and dripping quaint British humour, they had me tune in regularly. Clarkson was irreverent and had a deep resourcefulness to source a capacious assortment of adjectives. I write in past tense, for I dont watch much TV these days. But am sure (and I hear) they continue to be their usual selves to date. Every other auto show host since then, has looked like someone still recovering from a very intense combination of jaundice and constipation. As the buffalo swung his tail to catch the rear view mirror, that was my Jeremy Clarkson moment. My gripping drama. That was that.

Let me for a minute talk of P.Chidambaram. Now, Jeremy Clarkson and P.Chidambaram sitting on adjacent paragraphs must be enough for you to call an ambulance to ferry me to an asylum. No, all is well. Thank you. I have a reason to bring P.Chidambaram into the picture.

Who would believe if I told you that PC and his babus spawned an entirely new ‘genre’ of cars?  From my preliminary reading, they do seem to have worked on it and I am open to standing corrected here.  Well, as finance minister in 2006, he announced an 8% reduction in any car less than 4 meters in length for cars housing a 1.2L petrol or a 1.4 L diesel. He didn’t care to add, if the car could have a boot or otherwise. They just had to be less than 4 meters. An entire class of cars arrived : trimmed down versions of a hatchback with an appended boot as an afterthought that had no way of concealing how pronounced afterthought appeared! If there was a lousier evidence of mass production of ‘cut & paste’ technology, hmm, well, well..I am not sure how I should end that sentence.

The TATA Indigo was the first amongst a set of ugly, ‘cut and paste’ cars. If that was the worst one could have imagine seeing, Maruti Suzuki came up with Swift Dzire. An even more bizarre appendage of a boot to a wonderful car called Swift. One of the greatest ironies was to call this ‘cut & paste’ assortment of metal, ‘Dzire’!

A buffalo. Jeremy Clarkson. P.Chidambaram.  Hmm. What an assorted spray paint of a start to what was supposed to be a precise review. Sigh. Ok. Quick, let me add some zest!

First off, the TATA Zest is different. When designers sat on the table, their brief was to build this as a sub 4 meter car. It is not a ‘cut & paste’ car and It shows. The lines are bold and it has a rather ‘wanting to move forward’ kind of agile look. Maybe thats what pissed the sedentary buffallo and its wayward ways.

The car handled like a charm taking to the small roads of Goa almost with a familiar shrug of the shoulder. The Zest provides ample leg room with élan that clearly makes it inviting. Especially so for Indian families and their small extended ties. Of course, we know how small our extended ties are!

Now, let me get some petty things off my mind. Stuff thats been humming in there. Like a rattling fan. First off, the petrol engine. Wonder why they call it 3-in-1. Its an automobile engine. Not a dishwashing liquid.  ‘Three engines in one’ as a primary brand proposition requires a large dose of courage and a generous degree of audacity. Or so I think. Although am sure there must be reams of research to back it up. But then, thats that. Second, the engine operates in three modes to operate which TATA Motors have chosen to call : ‘City’. ‘Eco’ and ‘Sport’. Wonder if any one else thought of the Honda City and the Ford Ecosport, every time the three modes were spoken of! Maybe its just me and my cynical ways.  Sorry.

Nevertheless the engine did well and everyone said ‘peppy’. If you expect that car to turn into some kind of a ‘Batmobile’ at the press of a button as you move from ‘city’ mode to ‘sport’ mode, well, you will end up a poor sucker like me. So much for marketing.  Truth be told, overall the car handles well, for its class.

Goan cyclist

We clicked a few pictures shifted speed, accelerated, paused, stopped and got a few locals on the road driven to their wits end, as we tested out the horn. It seemed that the horn was placed by a campaigner against ‘noise pollution’. To get it going required the full supply of calories from a heavy breakfast. All the same, it was good for verdant Goa. Goa is a place where life happens in slow motion. Even rain seemed to be taking its time. People have a relaxed tonality to life that will inject you with allure or paralyse you in silly awe.

If you met the great Achilles himself and asked him to point towards the better example of his much famed heel, he could well point in the direction of Service standards of TATA Motors.  The TATA folks tell me, that story is changing. And that they have moved from 13th place to 7th on the JD Power rankings for service. Hopefully, that translates to something useful and differentiating.  I stay stubbornly hopeful that the new thinking of being a ‘design lead’ thinking versus being a ‘engineering lead’ company will take the car and the company a good distance.

The moment you switch topics and talk about the diesel car and the Automated Manual Transmission, you will catch me smiling far more.  In the middle of a rather fetching highway after manoeuvring to a position where no vehicle was in sight and after checking with the ladies if they had their seat belts on, I put some speed to the dial of the diesel Zest. It responded like a famished lion that spotted prey. It didn’t quite feel like diesel, had brilliant auto transmission and the noise reduction inside the cabin was near perfect.

More buffaloes dotted the greenery of Goan fields besides the highway. I stayed careful. Neha and Nandita took to the wheel with a matter-of-fact ease that didn’t surprise the car as much as it surprised them, I would think. They seamlessly wove through recalcitrant traffic and some indecisive rain which stayed troubled deciding if it should pour down or hold back.  While the windscreen wipers laboured with ease, I clicked a picture of what the windscreen held. Some remnants of what the clouds held a few moments ago. Pretty good picture I thought even as coherent happiness continued its elusive streak.


Back to the car. There are 3,75,369 reviews of the car now detailing the specs of Torque, displacement, head lamps with LED lights and some three zillion other categories where TATA Motors claims to be ‘segment first’. Please look them on up on the net.  The car is a neat package. And when TATA Motors will ‘price it for volumes’, as offline conversations threw in hushed tones, well, it will get many nods of approval.

Considering all of this, you may ask, with your head tilted to one side, “would buy the car?”. The answer clearly, is a ‘No’. End of story.

Except, that its not quite the end of the story. I am not in the market for car in this segment. If I were, this will get to my top three cars for consideration for sure. For those that are looking for a car in this segment, I reckon TATA Motors will be out to redefine ‘value for money’.

Good design and features that adorn higher segments sit pretty here. Maintenance doesn’t seem like (am hoping like hell here) it will take a generous stab at the bank account. It looks good. Drives good and has ample space all around. Plus, did I tell you about the Harmon Kardon audio system that besides playing music and all that, was said to take voice commands and do a slew of things just stopping short of ‘change my complexion’.

So there! Look at it for sure. Buy it if it fits you. Thats about the Zest. End of story.

Oh wait. The story has another element. While the Zest is just another car in the TATA stable, what it has more than convincingly done is this : forcing the TATA brand into consideration set of cars, that I will consider in the future. That is an even more important ask than just selling one car. But, that’s just me and I tell it with no qualms. I am no Jeremy Clarkson and there is no swarm of people who will do my bidding. Finally, its officially, end of story.

Ah, there is one more thing. Jeremy Clarkson once said, “Column writing is like gas. It fills in available space”. I stop right there. The end.

Drive Through

It’s a gingerly walk. You would be well within reason to assume that I was walking over shred glass if you saw my gingerly tread. Around me, an assorted bunch of bloggers are busy, blogging away. Peering into the keyboard with a precision that would befit a scientist launching a satellite to a planet beyond Pluto. I walk up to where Harish from Blogadda is standing. I tell him with my head held down in shame : ‘I cant… I cant blog like them, I cant blog at their speed’. He stares at me in silence. I keep my eyes trained on the carpet and ask for more time. He tells me, “The bus leaves at 2.00 PM”.    

“I will write. I promise”, I tell him. He remains silent. “God Promise” I say, hoping to infuse some humour. I think I see his jaws clench behind his generous cheeks that mirror a far more generous heart, while he says ‘Ok’. My shame redoubles. He walks away.

Road ahead

You see, Blogadda invited me to a preview of a new car TATA Zest. I sweated buckets. Part out of excitement but more out of trepidation. Excitement at the prospect of ‘Goa’ again in the monsoon. (I love the monsoons every year. And Goa, at all times). Plus the prospect of meeting bloggers from different walks of life was akin to a lavish buffet for a famished glutton whose appetite for stories spans the universe.

The trepidation came from someplace else. A large dose of a lazy outlook combined with a philosophy of ‘writing for writings sake’ (and not for rewards and contests) masquerades as righteous nonchalance for ‘brands’ and product reviews. I laid out my condition with a missionary zeal : I would write what I want to write. No censoring. No interference.

“Of course”. They said. Matching the righteous tone in more than good measure. I wondered why the good people at Blogadda humoured me and people like me. But God was in his heaven and all was well with the world. So.

The TATA Motors’ proposition was not only novel, it was bold and it appealed. It was to assemble a set of bloggers from walks of life that are as divergent as spaces between continents, to review and talk about the car they were launching. Now, I have the amount of knowledge about automobiles that you would expect Manmohan Singh to have about Punk music. (But the difference was, he could ride on reputation and keep quiet about it. Here I was to write two blog posts) The idea was to get the Zest experience reach different bloggers and their audience groups. Food bloggers. Fashion bloggers. General interest bloggers. That was more than merely good thinking.

Brilliant thinking, you could think. So did I. Soon, I flew into Goa. Goa is always brilliant. Trading a precious weekend with the family and looking forward to the prospect of meeting people from different genres and getting to know their blogs. Accompanied by a firm relief, plastered all over my mind, that there were going to be no experts in automobiles.

As luck would have it,the first gentleman I met was a Formula One enthusiast, who spoke about cars and races as though he relishes clutch plates for lunch and grease filled engine oil for dessert! If not for his friendly, calm demeanour and were he speaking about ‘ religion’ instead of cars, Obama and his drones would have taken our bus down. That kind of passion and a studied opinion of automobiles. My heart sank. I reckoned that taping my mouth, acting worldly wise with a smile now and then, backed by knowledgeable nods were my last resorts to escape the ignominy of being a frog in a flower basket.

But God was in his heaven and better things were due. There were people in the room who had other interests. Like jalebis, for example. A sigh that could be heard in Singapore, escaped my lips. As it turned out awesome things were due.

The hospitality of TATA Motors and the Blogadda teams was immaculate. I sat listening to stories of journeys from fellow bloggers. Some images remain etched. Like the widening of eyes of the bird watcher as he explained his exploits including one where he walked miles in Ladakh to spot one single bird. The wanderlust in another that is set to take him across the country on his bike for two months. Riding for two months and going to Nepal on a bike is awesome-crazy enough. But making it sound like he was going to the corner grocery store, had the head reeling.

My jaw hit the carpet and seemed intent on going all the way to the basement, when I heard yet another story of walking away from Corporate life and setting up a business model around blogs and blogging. Fixing the jaw, was unnecessary, for it soon was going to drop at the intensity and the nonchalant narration from every other fellow blogger’s story that wafted through the monsoon drenched Goan air.

TATA Motors is in the business of selling cars. Higher order pursuits like getting bloggers to exchange their stories falls in a vacuous place that the P&L statement will not like! But of course! But of course! Very soon, we were in what was called a ‘Masterclass’. A clutch of people from the design, engineering and Corporate Communications teams from TATA Motors presented facts, figures and data about the TATA Zest. Now, in my line of work, being subjected to legions of presentations and shiny corporate films with plasticky claims (and returning the favour in good measure), is common place. So, when the TATA Motors folks rolled out the same, the jaw returned to its place and stuck still as it normally does at the sight of pedestrian stuff.

The masterclass made as much of an impression as a weather report on TV, when you are expecting your favourite movie to turn up.  The masterstroke however was in the opportunity to interact with their designers and engineers over dinner. I am a sucker for stories and hearing them in first person was an experience to cherish. The TATA Motors folks wove magic for the rest of the evening.

I recall talking to a TATA Motors’ designer who designed the audio system. Sporting a trim, white beard, a black turtle neck T-shirt and a blue jeans, if you haven’t guessed who came to my mind, let me add that he also wore round glasses just like Steve Jobs. If not for the thick Bengali accent you would be in your rightful mind to think that TATA Motors resurrected the master of design himself.  As he spoke of his design of the audio systems, the twinkle in his eyes could have powered all of the hotel’s electricity.

I didn’t quite get the constraints until he explained them. One of which, was the ‘The two second test’. A design of the front end of the audio system that would be approved only if a tester were to make sense of it in two seconds, because two seconds was just about the time one could take the eyes off the wheel, while changing music. Some constraint, that! The pride in having done something awesome shimmered and rose far above the turtle neck.

Similar chats with different people ensued. Another that stays in the mind is the chat with the car designer from Vizag who spoke of straight lines, proportions, shapes and figures with an incredulous everlasting smile. Of course, I didn’t utter a word about how I loathed the geometry box and didn’t think of lines as anything beyond a scratch on a paper, back in school. But to meet someone who made a happy living out of doing this, required deep reflection of where I went wrong, I told myself. And hoped to forget about it.

The TATA Motors folks that I saw that evening, seemed to have passion oozing from every pore, were helpful to a fault, knowledgeable beyond measure and inspired a certain confidence in very good cars that we were to drive the next day morning. One thing was clear, TATA Motors was giving this car its best shot ever and it showed.

That night,as monsoon showers hit the Goan seashore in seamless ever-on kind of mode, conversations flowered. Cars. Passions. Blogs. Bloggers. Comments. Events. Readers. Twitter. Negative comments. Paid posts. Sick people. Beautiful people. Genres. Writers. And the like. There are surprises in store for me too. A few bloggers met and told me in that they read my blogs. I mumbled a few ‘Thank you’s and meant if much more than I said it. A couple of them kept silent after I said thank you. I have an odd feeling that they expected to be more generously compensated than a mere ‘thank you’, for reading the stuff that I churn out. If I would be them, I would! 🙂

The morning seemed to emerge in a hurry. The cars were readied. 20 odd cars. Fifty bloggers.

I was to join two very popular food bloggers who knew each other well.. First they knew each other, lived close by and blogged about food. Celebrity stuff. The swarm of anxiety riddled butterflies that lined my stomach wall at the prospect of meeting them soon melted into oblivion when I indeed got driving with the ladies. They were delightful people who accepted my ordinary fumbling ways like a phone would accept a random SMS, marketing an insurance policy!


We took turns at the wheel. Clicked some pictures while the other drove. Connected our phones to the audio device in the car. Changed channels. Commented on stuff.  Switched cars to drive the Petrol and Diesel variants. For a couple of hours! To do all of this on good cars that are yet to be launched in the company of wonderful people, indicated good Karma or at least, a feeling that I couldn’t have been all that bad in my past lives!



I cant afford to miss mentioning the GoPro cameras that were placed on the windshield, with three tonnes of adhesive tape,  ‘to capture expressions, as the car is being driven’. My tryst with cameras span decades. Over the last several decades, there are reams of snaps that seem to capture me at the exact moment when am least prepared or doing something ranging from incredulous to mildly preposterous. Like seeming to wag my tongue at the chief guest while receiving an award, when I could have sworn to God that all I was saying was ‘thank you’. Or eyelids closed. Unkempt shirt. Hands mysteriously coming in the way of the face. Etc! But this was supposed to be GoPro and all that. God help the editor, I thought!

Driving through an apology of a highway and picturesque narrow lanes filled with quaint houses in bright colours that would tear through monsoon induced green cover soothed the soul and the calf muscle that suffer Kurla’s whims. At every fork in the road, a TATA Motors gent with a bunch of curious locals in tow, would hold a board giving directions. At every pit stop, a handy bunch would give the car a rub and a shine making me wonder if I should attempt a smile and a wave of the hand befitting Queen Elizabeth.

That was that. After all the driving, we now are to ‘Live blog’ the event. That is a tall ask. After a few paragraphs of furious typing later I realise I am lost like a marathoner who went in the wrong direction, in a foreign land. I realise this is a lost cause. Words stutter and the keyboard crackle refuses to produce anything that can remotely be called ‘coherent’, on the screen.

It’s a gingerly walk. You would be well within reason to assume that I was walking over shred glass if you saw my tread. Around me an assorted bunch of bloggers are busy, blogging away. Peering into the keyboard with a precision that would befit a scientist launching a satellite to a planet beyond Pluto. I walk up to where Harish from Blogadda is standing. I tell him with my head held down in shame : ‘I cant… I cant blog like them, I cant blog at their speed’. He stares at me in silence. I keep my eyes trained on the carpet and ask for more time. He tells me, “The bus leaves at 2.00 PM”.

“I will write. I promise”, I tell him. He remains silent. “God Promise” I say, hoping to infuse some humour. I think I see his jaws clench behind his generous cheeks, while he says ‘Ok’. My shame redoubles. He walks away.

The days after the event is a whirlwind of sorts at work and home. Work piles up. My computer crashes. Mr.Murphy decides to do his visits. A few days after the event, I call up Harish. He is in better spirits. I tell him, I have a post that will go live soon. I gather he knows me well.  Between laughs and banter he asks me, “I hope it is about the car and the experience and not some…?” His voice trails.

I tell him, ‘Harish, the post about the car will be done too, but this one begins and ends with you’. Silence reigns on the other side. I think I hear his facepalm as I hit the publish button.



How many times has it happened with you that you get to what seems to be a ‘vacant’ seat, only to sight a handkerchief, or an old newspaper, or a book or some object of similar value there. Standing in for the ‘owner’ !

In some time the ‘owner’ shows up, indicating that he had ‘reserved’ the seat. And lays claim to the seat with such ferocity that would put the Chinese’s claim of Arunachal, to pathetic shame !

I guess this is a uniquely Indian moment. I guess. I am not sure. Please correct me if i am wrong here. My guess is given shape by the fact that we have a chronicled mythological precedent. Of Lord Ram’s footwear standing in for the gent when he went into the jungle! So.

So, in a busy movie hall (or wherever else, esp if there are no allotted seat numbers) you can stroll around, ogle about, wander with a pop corn or a cone of ice cream. All this while the old dirty handkerchief stands in for you !!

In smaller cities and towns, this scene is so often repeated in inter city buses. Where the clamour to get a seat is only matched by the ability to reach a handkerchief, newspaper, belt, tiffin box to ‘reserve’ a seat !

If a ‘representative object’ (dirty handkerchief, shredded newspaper or whatever) of the dude in yellow trousers got to the seat before you, well, the seat belonged to the dude in yellow trousers ! So we have seen. And heard.

It was ‘refreshingly different’ to see this gent, and his mode of reservation. Aboard the river cruise on Goa’s Mandovi river.

He clearly had outgrown the handkerchief and belongings of low value. For friends of his, for whom he ‘reserved’ seats, he gave it his one whole leg and one whole hand !

And warded off every body else who came close to the seat with a dismissive disdain that perhaps would befit a Taliban war lord looking at his goats, whom he was going to have for dinner !

This is a new standard that must quickly be made known to the rest of the country. We need more people like this gent.

Wont you be happy with friends like these ? Especially considering that they would give an arm and a leg. Just to get you seated.

Tell Tale Signs !

Our road trip from Mumbai to Goa saw us see some amazing roads and fantastic weather.

And hey, the camera also spotted some wonderful road signs. I guess my expectation of the creative talent of those in the Highways department was rather skewed to what was indeed reality.

There seems to be some passionate soul(s) who seems to peep out of every other road sign with a ‘differently’ written out message on road safety ! I clicked some and many others, just whizzed by!!

Image 1

This message was so poignant to me ! The number of drivers with fast machines who thought they were in a Formula One race was not funny. But this sign, set the tone, reminding all that this was indeed a highway. The first time i saw this, an auto smile popped up ! For i encounter morons who think roads are runways. So.

Image 2

This was lucid enough but for the word alignment ! At first glance, as we whizzed past the sign and i read it as ‘Everything is fine in an Italian Accident’. Thinking of it as a work of an ardent Congress party loyalist, we slowed the car down and backed the car up just to re-read the sign post. Relief descended. We drove on !

Image 3

How much more cryptic can you get ?!? Four words. But the message was through loud and clear. Surprisingly we had some good mobile network coverage through most parts of the drive. I guess this sign was indeed warranted!

Image 4

If previous image had four words. This one had three ! This also seemed to hold a message for life & living. Atleast, i would like to think so. ‘Slow & Steady wins the race’ is cliched and passe !

‘Fast Wont Last’ is here, ladies and gentlemen. How cool !

Image 5

For those who have a preference for tea, here is something. I wonder whats is ‘safe’ tea! Perhaps one that you can drink after reaching the safe confines of the destination. Made by a ‘safe’ person..! What is it ?

Image 6

How more direct can this be said ?!? I take a bow !

Image 7

This seems to be a valiant attempt ! But still, it read different. It took a couple of 10 seconds to fully understand what was getting said. But it did sink in !

Image 8

That one was for me. I am happy they are proud of me ! The ultimate recognition from the Highways department….

Ok. Lets get very real here. Well, i am not the best of drivers.
But then that’s not the best of English grammar either. So !

The Lady with the broom !

Just outside the Church of Bon Jesus was this lady. A glint from her nose ring caught my eye and my then my eyes just refused to leave the lady ! She moved with great elegance. As she spoke to a few of her colleagues i saw in her, a certain poise and a certain level of composure which i haven’t seen in many an individual in a long while.

Her broom stick caught my attention too. It was rather unique and the fact that it was ‘maintained’ well, was obvious ! The broom slowly lead me to see how they rested in the arm of the lady.

Many minutes later, i saw her go about sweeping the compound. With elegance, with patience and a certain degree of perfection. Ensuring the last leaf was removed and every visitor had nothing to look at but the church itself !

She smiled, she had a cheerful blabber ( i couldn’t follow what she was speaking) & a keen eye looking for the specks of dust or dirt which needed to be removed !

I wonder where does this commitment come from ? Can it be imbibed ? Can it be, at all, taught. What could be her vision ? What could drive her ? What would be her annual Key Result Area ? Will she have an appraisal …?

Passion shows up. Whether you clean the floor or build a few !

She stays in my mind. She doesn’t know, but in just going about doing her work she taught me a few things. And when i toss the odd paper carelessly on the desk or review a quickly drafted email, i remind myself of the lady. Her elegance and the poise. The well cradled broom in the arm and the dedication to completing a simple chore with perfection & energy. And joy !

The glint of the nose ring seems to be a message ! A divine one. I call it the broom stick message !

Images from Goa !

The Church of Bon Jesus awes you with its magnifecence. Its sheer scale and the laterite stone’s strength stare at you in a pleasant angle. They say that all of this was put together 400 years ago ! 400 years !!! 4 year old buildings shake, 40 year old buildings are renovated & 100 years old buildings are artefacts in their own right. 400 years !

So, we asked each other what would it take to build such monuments again. The loan repaying, middle class mindsets that pervade us, forgot everything else. Like art, architecture, class etc and echoed in unison : ‘larger EMI’ !

The Church of St.Francis of Assisi was built in 1661 ! Whew ! To see it stand in so much splendour till date is a wonder in itself.


Somewhere in Chiplun, we refilled. The petrol station was right on the NH 17. It only made sense for us to glide in to quench the thirst of an overworked engine. Just after we tanked up, i noticed that ‘Petroleum’ was adulterated. I mean an ‘i’ instead of an ‘e’ !

We laughed about it ! Talked about it. About how callous marketers could be and how all of this could affect brand image etc ! And how such folks would get promoted year after year & Parkinsons Law & so on. ( What do you do when you have four adults packed into a car for many hours. Yap ! )

After a 100 kms or so, the car started giving us trouble. The smooth ride went gradually missing & it was becoming difficult to climb heights effortlessly. But we kept going ! We realised we couldnt continue that way for long.

As we were entering Goa we spotted a Hyundai Dealership : Alcon Hyundai. It was well past 6.00 PM and they were downing shutters. The service manager heard our problem and cryptically said ‘adulaterated petrol. A common problem on the highway’ ! ‘Livid’ took a new dimension in us.

In a brief while, a diagnostic instrument was used and bingo : it pointed out to a particular problem.

I recalled times when the street corner mechanic used to climb on all sides and tell you that a or b or c or d or e could be wrong ! The Hyundai folks stretched & four mechanics (lead by Sudhir Naik) worked on the car. An hour later the car was fit as a fiddle. We were quite impressed !

Stretching beyond time and doing all that they could was indeed wonderful to experience. After all the bad service that i have been experiencing, this was a revelation of sorts !

The locals told us that there was a Friday market at Mapusa. With images of villagers selling their konkani / Goan ware beckoning us we went ! And it indeed was a colourful sight. Far from being a village fair, you could get anything from Balloons to jewellery to vegetables there. And yes, there were rural folk present too.

There were a set of ladies selling what appeared to be pickle, packaged in braid shaped objects, merchandised very nicely. So, we approach the lady and ask her what those were. She looked at us and popped a question, ‘ are you hindu ?’ We nod with a perplexed head. She says, ‘move on, you wont eat these’ !

We stare in disbelief. Religious discrimination ! At Mapusa’s Friday market ! Before such communal seeds took shape in our minds, the lady at the next counter chipped in that these were pork sausages and it is against hindu traditions to have them ! Ah ! We say. That culture thing.

We spot fishermen angling in the sea. We end up catching them catch fish ! They go about their jobs merrily. I walk upto them and talk to them. How was the catch today ? i ask in tentative hindi. From the expression on their faces it doesnt seem pretty encouraging. I beat a retreat.

An hour later, they pack their plastic bags and go. I ask them the same question. One chap is excited. He carries his lone big catch in his hands. And exults for the camera. I click.


The vast expanse of green and the lovely roads were something to cheer ! We havent experienced that in a long while, given how Mumbai roads are ! The roads were inviting. And that made the journey so much more worthwhile.

The Road Trip ! Mumbai To Goa

A magical roadtrip would include

Fantastic roads
Green ghats & hill stations
A slight drizzle
Overcast skies
Limited oncoming traffic
Fast car. Clear directions
Good music
Uncrowded & pristine beaches
Portugese architecture & history
Indian minds
Shack food
Great company

That is as magical as it could get. Especially so when its Goa by road !

Thats exactly what we had.

I have come back with about 800 snaps and a million memories. Perhaps more. As much as this was a holiday, it was also some time for intense reflection, juggling of thoughts, discovering of the self through konkan coastline, cuisine and people. We are back in Mumbai with perhaps a lorry load of each.

So much so, that there is realisation that much more needs to be done. Much more ! I am already having a difficulty of excluding the many pictures from being posted here ! But still thats the choice that i have to make ! So, you will find some snaps here and more as we go along !

Overall, it was a great trip.

And my new theory is Goa is great. Especially in the monsoons. So the off season is really the season of seasons !

Here are some snaps ! The details follow !

At Fort Aguada

The Road

Beside the Road

Approaching rain at Calangute Beach

Bambolin Beach

Bright Red. Bright Yellow. All seem to be preferred exterior colours !

The Independence Day Spirit

Caves Up the mountains

A church on the way to Calangute

The Vision Thing !

The Goa air reminds me of Mangalore. I guess the Arabian sea has a different charm. Quite different from the charm that the Bay of Bengal has ! I landed today and have been at work !

As usual, i picked up a conversation with the taxi driver. The scheduled taxi driver played truant and i found this young man called Raju. A very enterprising kid who sold me the ride in less than 10 seconds. As our conversation progresses, i find that he lives with his mother and younger brother goes to school.

He makes Rs. 4000/- per month driving the taxi. “During peak season time, it is higher” he says, but then, it is offset by the lean months like now. He drives well. He is patient, and is extremely helpful.

I ask him his long term plans. He cant understand. I say, “what do you want to do five years from now”. He looks at me through the rear view mirror with a blank expression. And says, ‘Maybe earn two / three thousands more”

I prod him further, ‘have you thought of things like owning a taxi like this and having others work for you..?/ ( just to give him contextual example). I could clearly see his eyes sparkle for a moment. Perhaps he imagined himself as the boss ! I dont know ! And then smiles, “Will you be interested in seeing other places..” A new conversation thread. End of the old one.

When people say, “its all in the mind” many a time i dont pay heed to it. But here was a live example. Able. Capable. Committed. Talented. Honest. Sincere. And willing to slug his butt out. He is HOT commodity in a market where people with such traits are a rarity. In a market which is driven by opportunity.

But then, all this without a vision will ensure 4000/- per month when there is potential for 10 times more. Perhaps a 100 ! Oh ! The vision thing !