Thursday, August 30, 2012

Samara Surprises Me Yet Again!

Samara's just back from a session at the A.S.S. after all the trouble we gave her on the weekend... and here's a report that should convince anyone with any doubts about the amazing reliability and sturdiness of this beast.

So it all started last Saturday morning, when some over-enthusiastic off-roading ended up with one lower right tail-light getting ripped off, and another loose one (which we took off lest it fall down), and the rear camera disconnected.

Sunday morning, it was time to get stuck in the sand, and some pretty rough handling to get her out.

In the evening, we filled up diesel on NH17, and set off for Varandha. It was getting dark, the heavy rain and fog resulted in extremely poor visibility. Suddenly, after a quick stop for pics, I realized Samara just couldn't pick up initial momentum (although it was OK once she had speed). A few seconds later, I realised my horn was off, and the dash lights went off. We avoided taking any more breaks, lest we lose the lights and get stuck in the middle of nowhere, and reached home finally, safe and sound.

Reaching home, I also realised she was jerking every time I shifted from N into D or R, and the A/C was not cooling. I cursed myself for putting her through all the trouble - I was sure a combination of the rough offroading, some careless 2H-4H-4L shifting, and all the rough driving over the horrible roads had taken its toll.

When I dropped her off at the A.S.S, I was prepared to pay through the nose - the only hope being that most of the damage would be covered through warranty.

The job card read:
Check engine light remains on dashboard
Check A/C not working
Check horn not working
Check all parking lights not working
Check vehicle gives jerk while shifting from Neutral
Fix rear tail lamp
Check reverse camera not working
Check pick up less

Also, I made him add,
Do interior cleaning 3M
Do underbody wash

The parts store told me the tail light bracket was broken, and would need the entire bumper to be replaced - for 30,000 with painting and fixing charges, so I told him to ditch it; I would do it outside with my local mechanic with some jugaad.

Now, the bill:
Fuse, Fuse Assy 15A: 76
Labour: 0 (warranty)
Interior cleaning: 2150
Total with taxes: 2501

Yes, all it took was replacement of one blown fuse

If only I had had the knowledge and confidence to pull over at Varandha and change the blown fuse...

Tomorrow, I will take her to Gargatte Automobiles at Kalewadi Phata, and her tail lights should be back in place soon!

Three cheers for Ford!

Monday, August 27, 2012


Even the most educated amongst us are victims of stereotyping and biases. Sometimes, give people a chance to show how wrong you are! You will be shocked at the results!

Exactly what happened to us after we got stuck on the beach, and reached out for help!

Konkani Cutie

I am not a great fan of dogs, but this is a cutie I just couldn't resist clicking!


The Shy Moon

Cats Of Konkan

Konkan is heaven for cat lovers - in all shapes are sizes. Here are some I clicked - majority of them at Swayam Patil's Khanaval during the course of my lunch!

Trip To Konkan - Part 5 (Varandha Ghat)

Part 5: All The Excitement You Need!

Battered by heavy rain (Puneites, you have no idea what rain is unless you have seen this), we left Harihareshwar for Mahad. Missed a turn, and with no GPS, added a few extra KM to the route - to Mhasla, Goregaon and Mahad, enroute to Varandha. The road is bad, narrow and rough - although we were treated to some really pretty rainbows along the way. The road along the Savitri river might have been a better bet.

Once on NH17, we had tea, and refuelled at a highway pump a few KM before taking the left to Varandha. Looking at the state of the pump, every neuron in my head screamed at me to find another one, but it was another of those moments you wish you could live again. A few Kms on, Samara started having serious trouble accelerating, especially on the ghat. Murphy's law struck again - a fuse blew off, robbing me of the horn, and the in-dash lights. Heavy rain and fog brought down visibility to within 5 meters.

The beauty of the ghat was lost on us, as we tried to beat the odds and hit NH4 before any further trouble. Thankfully, the powerful Xenons and the rough and tough tires ensured we ploughed on without further trouble, and passing by a deadly road accident outside Katraj tunnel, hit the city lights around 730 pm.

It had been an amazing adventure, but we were all ready to get into a hot shower and a bed, and no one needed the rest more than Samara did. Tomorrow, she gets a well-deserved session at her favourite spa!

Trip To Konkan - Part 4 (Harihareshwar)

Part 4: Harihareshwar, Evening Day 2

It was noon by the time we got back on the road. Suddenly the hunger, tiredness and sweat was taking it's toll.

We stopped by a local village well for a quick wash and change of t-shirts, scraped through the political rally at Shriwardhan and deposited ourselves in a lovely hut-by-the-sea at the MTDC resort in Harihareshwar. The view was breathtaking, and the restaurant, while it looked shady, served some delicious grub! The resort is in the midst of lush green jungles, but the cottages looked in need of maintenance.

Rested, refreshed and eager to make the most of the last session of the tour, we went to Harihareshwar temple, and the amazing roct-cut formations behind the temple. A must visit for folks in the area - a treat for the senses.

The rain clouds were looking really ominous, and we had a long drive ahead, so at 345, we gulped down some coconut water and malai, and said bye to the wonderful Konkan coast - headed to Mahad and Varandha, on the way back home.

But it was far from over.

Trip To Konkan - Part 3 (Samara Meets Her Match)

Part 3: Morning, Day 2 - Samara Meets Her Match

Day 2 dawned nice and early, and a quick walk to the beach was in order. The rains convert this part of the country into a lovely place with profusion of green foliage, the dark skies and the moisture in the air can be gloomy AND romantic at the same time - depends on your company, I guess :)

After a quick checkout, and a visit to the nearly-completed laterite stone temple, we hit the road to Shriwardhan-Harihareshwar. Breakfast was needed, but we planned to catch it at some tapari along the way.

That's when we spotted this virgin beach, a few KM out of Diveagar, just past the hill and a small fishing village.

Sometimes in life you wish you could rewind the last few mins, and live it all over again - differently. This was one such moment for us. The beach beckoned, the cameras licked their lips in anticipation, and Samara laughed off any doubts we had. It was a easy drive down to the water line, and some great pictures.

But the way back was a different story. I knew I needed better traction and momentum, but getting a take off ramp on the thin slice of beach was difficult, and in a heart-wrenching moment of revelation, I knew we wouldn't make it. Just a couple of seconds of wheel spinning, and it was over. The rear right tire was spinning clear now, the axle at a scary angle, and the 2 tonne beast was resting on its underbody.

A few villagers passing by stopped to dispense some very ill-timed advise on not driving on to the beach, others reminded us the tide was coming in - but many dropped whatever they were doing and came to help. A local Singham character marshalled the villagers with the expertise of someone who's seen a lot of "stupid city dwellers" get similarly stuck, and in a few mins - we were clear. Konkan people - you rock :)

Looking back, it was an adventure - it was a lot of fun - and we should have taken the opportunity for a lot more photos and videos. But at that time, all we could think of was - damn, why did we need to do this?

All's well that ends well!

Trip To Konkan - Part 2 (In and Around Diveagar)

Part 2: In and Around Diveagar - Afternoon and Evening, Day 1

We reached Diveagar around lunch time. Quick note here on road conditions - the Mulshi Tamhini road is pretty motorable. There are a few bad patches, and it's recommended you take it real slow because some of the potholes are bad enough to break your suspension. However, for more parts, the road is decent, especially once you enter Konkan.

We checked pretty much every possible place to stay - and it was mostly empty. So we had lots of choice. Unfortunately, most of the places we checked had very damp/mouldy bedding, and small beds. Exotica was pretty expensive at 4000/night. We finally found the very decent Patil Guest House, next to Exotica - at 1500/night, with free extra beds thrown in, with sparkling clean bathrooms and fresh bedding, this was really worth it, even though it did not have AC. The very helpful room boy Pravin even gave Samara a very good wash and was refusing to be rewarded for it! Highly recommended.

We were eager to explore, so took a quick "ghargooti" lunch at Swayam Patil Khanawal - again, highly recommended. I cannot speak much of the veggie options, but we enjoyed the Surmai and the chicken thali, got some extra Surmai too, washed it down with some awesome sol kadi, and finally, a masala paan to wrap it up.

Refreshed and excited, we set out to explore the area. First, to Dighi, a small fishing village with a port (which was out of bounds for us).

From Dighi, we turned back towards Diveagar, and then took a small road to the right that took us to Adgaon - a lovely fishing village at the end of a freakingly beautiful stretch of virgin beach and rocky outcrops.

Time for some more snaps with Samara.

By late afternoon, we came back to the hotel, freshened up, and set off for the Diveagar shore, a short 5 min walk from Patil's. The beach is long, uninterrupted and the sea is calm and perfect for swimming, but the oily patches on the sand are a real cause of concern. There was also para-gliding and dune scooters, but they didn't really appeal to us.

It was also a good time to get some horsepower in the water, without having to worry about corrosion!

Notice the metal barriers at the entrance to the beach. If this doesn't warn you to keep off, maybe my future posts will. Until then, enjoy the sun set!

At night, we made the mistake of going for Chinese and Punjabi at Shree Ganesh. Expensive and tasteless, it was a good opportunity wasted. We retired to our rooms, and while the rest played cards, it was time for me to rest and recuperate for what was to come the next day.