I saw, I read and I slept! It started with a late night promising email from my favourite blogging site. It spoke about a fun-filled day of solving quests and bonding with fellow bloggers, well Indibloggers, oh… the 24 most enterprising Indibloggers! Entrepreneurs love the word ‘enterprising’, but not at the cost of their Sunday sleep. I put it to rest and drifted into lala-land, only to be pestered by my dear husband the next morning, to apply for the event. I argued and argued and argued that there were thousands of bloggers in Mumbai and Pune who would apply for it, and I stood no chance. But, men will be men! Grudgingly I touched the ‘apply’ button on my cell phone and let go.
To let the cat out of the bag, somewhere deep inside I was really looking forward to getting selected and being a part of the #FollowTheGenX event. The only blogger I had met in flesh and blood since I commenced blogging in February of this year was my own husband; and the thought of meeting other ‘enterprising’ and ‘like-minded’ people was sweet. Plus, I am a fan of automatic cars. That surely was an alluring thought too. So when Swati, Vineet and Ranjith called after two days I had ants in my pants and just couldn’t hold my horses to get the confirmation. I was full of the joys of spring when I got the text confirmation; the only hitch being the early morning departure. I was the only ‘townie’ and reaching the suburbs at 6.30 a.m. to get into the bus that would take us to Pune was the only bummer. Since I was an eager beaver I hardly slept the previous night and was up much before the 5 a.m. alarm could say good morning. My benign brother dropped me to the bus and voila, I was a part of the most sought after event of the country!
How do I describe the bus ride? It was nothing short of ‘back to college’ nostalgia, what with the introductions and literal ragging of the so-called nervous folks. Ranjith kick-started it and then there was no going back. The intros were soul stirring; some very emotional, some funny, some sooooo serious. All in all, the bus ride was great fun. With just one pit-stop we managed to reach in good time straight into the Lake House in Pune. And what a beauty that place was. I had never been there before and was astounded by its splendour. The lake, the park and the sheer tranquillity of Lake House guaranteed that it was going to be one heck of a day.
There was piping hot tea/ coffee waiting for us along with some deliciously light breakfast. The hot beverages were a big relief and suddenly the early morning woes and grudges were over. We were pleased to meet the Indiblogger folks from Pune. The Tata Nano team along with the Wizcraft folks who were managing the day’s event were simply outstanding and gave us a very warm welcome. We felt belonged there right from the word go. After pleasantries were exchanged and quick introductions done, Sachin from the Tata Nano team took us through a presentation on the features of the Tata Easy Shift GenX AMT. It was a pleasure to get all the minute details of the car we were just about to drive and have fun with. Depanjan from the Tata team explained the program details and what was in store for us along the way. Oh, did I mention that there were goodies waiting for us on our tables? A selfie stick and a power bank which would be handy during the drive. We needed as much power as possible, well literally; as there were lots of pictures and videos to be taken during the course of the day.
Formalities over, signatures taken on disclaimers, we were all set to zip zap zoom in the sparkling Sangria Red (now now they chose my favourite drink to name the colour too!!) seven Nanos waiting for us. We were divided into seven teams, with one driver in each. Luckily in our team of – Anamika, Saurabh, Nikhil and I, there were two drivers. I was supposed to be on the wheel when the drive would be flagged off, and I had already made a secret pact with Saurabh who would take over after half an hour. Phew! That meant I could sit back and enjoy the show, and partake in all the challenges without worrying about steering the wheel. Anamika was the navigator of our team who would be getting all the challenges on whatsapp and we were all expected to complete them in good time. The competitive spirit was flying high and we wanted to finish all the challenges first and bag the prize.
Just before the teams were ready to take off, the drivers took a quick test drive to get accustomed to the automatic transmission. I thoroughly enjoyed being at the wheel. When the flag-off happened, we ventured on our paths, with a tracking car leading the way. Our friend from Tata – Manish, was part of our team and constantly guided us from the tracking car. Being part of Team G – we were the seventh and the last car to drive out. And fortunately or unfortunately, depending upon how you look at it, we had paparazzi following us throughout. Ahead, behind, sideways, just think of any direction and the car was there; constantly shooting videos and taking pictures with their heavy duty SLRs. At first I was enjoying the limelight, but later it got too distracting and I was happy to hand over the wheel to Saurabh.
The Nano is indeed a pleasure to drive and I would highly recommend it for the following:
1. The 5 speed Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) for automatic lovers (though you can turn into a manual transmission if need be)
2. A compact hatchback, especially for city driving when you want to zip through the crazy traffic
3. 94 litres of boot space with a boot that opens out (my nieces could git there perfectly when out for a lazy drive)
4. The 3-spoke short diameter steering wheel that makes it easy to manoeuvre and turn
5. Spacious cabin size and great leg room (I was shocked with this)
6. At 2.43 lacs ex-showroom, I would easily recommend it as a gift for someone you love
We kept driving and completing challenges. Some were as weird as stopping on mid-road and clicking snaps with coffee cups in the hands of passers-by or doing a flash mob with the Nano in tow etc. We had to complete the challenge, click videos/ snaps and send them to the whatsapp group that was controlling the challenges. We also had to keep tweeting as much as we could with pictures and updates, with the hastag #FollowTheGenX and tag the tatanano_tweets handle as well. That’s why the power bank really came in handy. But life wasn’t so simple. We were continuously getting weird and weirder challenges from Indibloggers across the country who knew we were on the road. There was laughter, excitement, apprehension and a lot of fun in the air.
We took a lunch break and went to a fabulous lounge – Mezza9 that was exclusively reserved for us. It was an awesome place and completely befitting for bonding with the team. Some of us gave interviews about our Nano experience while the others kept clicking away as if there was no tomorrow. The welcome drinks, food and desserts were mouth-watering, and the break gave us the much needed respite from the Pune heat too. After lunch, we set off for the Lake House again and this time there was something else in store for us. The Tata guys had created a small narrow track (the F1 types) where we had to manoeuvre the Nano to test it for its strength and manoeuvrability on such paths. Though the heat was killing, it was fun. The photo-sessions and the special selfie sessions with the help of the selfie sticks were in full swing.
Thankfully it was time to call it a day and head back to the same conference hall and enjoy the greenery of the park and the serenity of the lake waters. Well, that’s what we thought, but like they say, man proposes, God disposes. The Gods aka the Nano and Indiblogger team members had envisaged a grand finale for us. Once we entered the park, along with the food and drinks, we found Varun with his enormous drumming equipment waiting for us. Varun from Taal Inc. is an amazing drummer and enthralled us with his splendid drumming skills. You asked for it and you got it, literally. People yelled out, demanding rock, jazz, blues and he played it all. Post that we had the most remarkable drum-circle session, building up to a crescendo of hand-made music. Being a Learning and Development professional, I wasn’t new to the drum-circle experience, but had never been through a session with Varun. Playing the Djembe is marvellous, that too with such a high spirited crowd. That was a grand finish to a wonderfully plotted day for all of us. The icing on the cake was the announcement that all the teams completed all the challenges and the prize money was to be distributed amongst all of us.
On that happy note and after a few group photos, us Mumbaikars picked our goodie bags (oh yes, amazing gifts!!!) and headed back to the bus. By then though we were tired, the enthusiasm was still very high. Each one of us had lots to talk to each other and the bus ride back home was a memorable experience. Us happy souls went back home with some wonderful memories, and an amazing set of friends made for life.
Here’s a big thank you to the Tata Nano Team and the Indibloggers who put in so much effort to ensure the day was smooth and unforgettable. For a change I had decided not to be stuck to my phone, so I took very few pictures. Here’s a visual tour for all of you and also a video of our flash mob.
Happy reading, seeing and listening!
Photo credits: Anamika, Aziz, Neha, Nikhil and Saurabh Video credit: Anamika
Featured Image source: Tata Motors