Oscar Wilde once said “You don’t love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car.” I guess, he never had the chance to be a part of the Xtreme Drive Indiblogger Meet, otherwise he would have had a different opinion, at least about the fancy car part.
SUV– They say it refers to Sports Utility Vehicle, but after the#XtremeDrive experience, for me, SUV will always be – Safari Ultimate Vehicle. It all started with a notification from Indi informing about the XtremeDrive meet to be held in Mumbai on the 1st of June. For me, it was not just an opportunity to visit “MayaNagri” for the first time, rather a chance to meet in real some of the people, I have known through their writing only.
There was just one problem, that I had recently shifted to Pune and had no idea whatsoever about the route to Mumbai. But as the saying goes, in every problem resides an untapped opportunity. With that thought in the back of my mind, I somehow gathered the motivation (and travel expense, of-course) and thus began the adventure filled road trip with a backpack, few clothes and money just enough for the weekend.
And with that, started the sheer chaos — lots of traffic, scorching heat, buses and instructions from random people on the street. After struggling for 5 hours – some spent in wrong buses and some in the right ones, I somehow managed to reach Mumbai. ( Though, now I know that it’s only a three hours’ journey , still those 5 hours were less than what I had anticipated for such a trip :P) Already 45 minutes late for the meet, I reached Chitrakoot Grounds – the location, which I never knew was soon going to set me in an adrenaline rush. Since, it was my first IndiBlogger Meet, so I was both nervous and thrilled at the same time. After registering in the official portal, a form was handed over to me, which seemed as if it were some Company Agreement. (Luckily, it just asked for the driving license number. Man, I find it odd when corporate world comes back to haunt me at such awesome places).
It was just a matter of minutes before I was lost to the on-the-spot contest which was going on when I arrived. It required us to guess a number between 1-10, without repeating the number which was already covered by some other blogger. Lucky ones, who kept the count got prizes including Pendrives, Swiss Army Knives and even Sleeping bags. And a few unlucky ones, ended up with bananas and an onion ring.We had our formal introductions in the “60 seconds to fame” format ( bragging about our blogs, passion for writing and the individual’s Indi-meet count), and there I met some of the top shot bloggers, the shining creative writers and got a glimpse of the man behind all this, Renie himself. People were continuously tweeting about the on-going fun and synergy that got instilled in the room. There were a few other newbies(like me) as well, so I decided to use this opportunity to make friends with them.We also had juices, and other soft-drinks for refreshment from time to time.
Then, an executive from Tata Motors briefed us about the Mighty Safari Storme. It was yet another presentation, but way too different than what we usually have in our offices. It was mesmerizing, concise and to the point- with facts and statistics which makes Storme stand out of the crowd. He told about its features like:
- Land Rover inspired head lamps
- Chrome colored side mirrors
- Better ground clearance
- New generation 2.2L VARICOR engine
- Anti-Lock Braking System
- Ventilated Brakes with EBD
and how Storme was in for its Corporate Look. With dual airbags– for both driver and the co-driver and special aerodynamic spoiler, storme truly commanded the respect to set into the shoes of the legend of its era – THE SAFARI. Later, the entire gathering was divided in groups of 20 each, for the upcoming contests and Safari Storme’s test drive which was lined up for later. (As far as I observed, some teams looked over 20, but it never really made much difference.)
Owing to my indispensable love for cars and engines, the first look of the STORME was a feast to the eyes. I always had this soft spot for SUVs and the love only deepened when the Storme began to reveal the monster in it. Its 2.2L diesel engine produces 138bhp and a maximum torque of 320Nm which is just quite the engine required for the safari to let it be thrown to unknown challenges without jeopardizing with the fuel efficiency.The higher variants also provide for luxury options and the 4 wheel drive,with all these features and that price tag – it’d rather take a fool to turn a blind eye .
And hence began the extravaganza, the Rope Pulling Contest, where our team- Reckless Riders pulled the mighty Safari Storme across the battlefield in just a matter of 8 seconds. There were bruises- both on hands and knees, a few ankles twitched, people fell on each other, the rope broke and team strategy got re-done and soon enough there was the sound of clapping all around to make us realize that the task was done and glory was bestowed upon us. Though, our dreams of being victorious were broken, when a few minutes later another team did the act in 7.5 seconds, yet we people had first shot at the brand new SUV, so no hard feelings for it. 🙂
I could have never even imagined, that the most thrilling part of the meet had just started, when we people in a groups of three, were given our Xtreme Rides by professionally trained drivers, first at the inner circuit, with Bumble Bee tracks, See Saw Rumbler , Dwindlers and the most awesome one – The 45 degree incline. All the obstacles were laid out nicely in an open space and one by one The Storme completed all the challenges ahead of it. Some it climbed through, some it shunted across and cut through rest others like a piece of cake. I never really had a rafting experience at Ganges but with this kind of Xtreme Driving, I am done with that regret. Anyone who had seen the dust storm created towards the end of the ride, won’t hesitate to respect the SUV as the “Untamed Beast of the open Highways.“
Sitting beside the driver has its own benefits, the view of luxurious interior was distinctly evident from there. Besides being spacious, faux leather on the seats and finished plastic panels adorned the entire cabin. With the beige and light brown colour theme, the interior certainly feels more lavish and exquisite.There were a few elements that seemed familiar to original safari, though the dashboard was all-new with wooden finished panels.
Then, was the turn was for the Off-Road drive, which was the best part of the meet-up. Our professional driver told us that The Mighty Storme has an unique feature, where without any acceleration, the car would climb a steep slope. Yet, I was unable to believe my eyes, especially sitting next to driver, when it actually happened. This auto-climb feature of SUV is completely out of the world and is something I have never witnessed in any car. Later, the professional guy took us down the special natural inclines, to give us the feel of what an actual desert safari would be like. The experience was simply breathtaking. This powerful beast, in hands of a passionate rider can run free, refusing to show mercy to any possible terrain.
The meet ended with the food specially catered for the bloggers, be it the Soft Paneer or the Blogger Biryani, every single item on the menu was finger licking good. I was so lost to the main course to have barely noticed the desserts, until my friend Anchit Sethia brought Faluda Kulfi for me. It was so generous of him to give such a wonderful treat to my tongue. While we people headed back to our homes, Indiblogger reciprocated our presence by giving us all a T-shirt of the meet. All said and done, it was once in a lifetime opportunity, that I guess Oscar Wilde needed more than me. 😉
Images Courtesy : Indiblogger