dtandon

"The experience" - 15 day road trip in a President

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I got my first cellphone in 1997; when my dad fell ill when I was out in a clinic, I thought I got to have one atleast for my dadhu...Dhruv we had cellphone's around that time only thing was we were made to pay even for incoming call's and roaming was expensive. the norm of usage was 'missed call's' It's a good note of an era gone by. Memories etched in the mind. Know what, my parent's made a pilgrimage, in a Fargo truck and 2 Amby's all the way from Chennai Kashi Rishikesh etc and they went thru the notorious Chambal valley in the mid 70's<having a landline was a luxury, then> that was a group of say 20 of which 15 were women and just 5 conservative absolutely docile typical "madrasi" men, goin by road via Chambal valley. They were asked by many, one question "Are you nut's?". They made their pilgrimage and came back all in one piece. My dad wrote out a diary...typical 'Rishad Saam Mehta' style and that was much sought after he made copies for private circulation. I also remember fondly of the memories of our trip all over TN in 2 Amby's driven by my dad and uncle.

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smiley1.gif Ok.. Fast forward to happenings at Mumbai. It's time to pamper the car - It gets a complete look see at a reliable mechanic. Gets a new muffler, engine and gear oil, a new propeller shaft coupling, tappet adjustment, timing check and fresh grease - everything that (usually) keeps her happy.

Spend 4-5 days there roaming around the city. We are parting ways with my uncle and his family - they have to head to Karnataka and we gotta get to Lucknow.

The next bit if the journey is 600 odd Km's from Mumbai to Indore - the star attraction - Chambal valley.

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Ideally, we should start early (to beat the morning traffic and because we have a long way to go.

The whole idea of "ideally" is taken with a pinch of salt - its not like we have a train or a plane to catch!

Plus, the feedback is that the road conditions are quite good.

So, we tank up late in the evening and and chat late into the night.

Wake up at 8AM, and proceed to have a breakfast thats fit for a king. The royal steed is then loaded, we mount and its 10 AM before we hit the Mumbai roads.

...

(time flies - we drive)

...

Late afternoon and we're roaring up one of the bigger ghat sections - traffic is slowing to a crawl. Prime suspect - an accident or maybe just an overloaded/ overheating truck thats panting for breath.

As we are weaving thru a long sting of parked trucks, we notice that there's absolutely no oncoming traffic (bad omen). All of a sudden, a cop is blowing a really shrill whistle and waving at us. We pull over.

To be continued..

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So, we pull over and step out of the car. Look across the valley and we see that the traffic is piled up on the other side of the mountains as well. The cop who stopped us is nowhere to be seen. Whats really surprising is that there are Cops all over the place - seem to be trying to control the traffic.

Things are all out of place - there's more cops around than you usually see on the road when a VVIP comes visiting. And what would a VVIP be doing in the middle of this ghat section on a hot summer afternoon!!

Keep my eyes peeled - soon, I can see not one but two VIP's on the road and a very different kind at that.

Its a couple of big rigs - the three pointed star kind smiley1.gif - both are pulling really wide an long loads and the cops are here to help!

Its a beautiful sight - two rigs - each (6x4 tractor) towing a piece of machinery that's gotta be half a football field long, being chaperoned around the mountain by cops.

Both climbing the ghats pulling along an obscene amount of weight without any fuss whatsoever. So spinning tires, no growling engines, no smoky exhausts - its just a walk in the park.

I've left the car behind and am just trying to watch them, running around on foot as they climb up to where we are. Takes about a half hour and then - the traffic is moving again. Dad starts to crawl along - can't wait for me in the middle of the traffic. Almost passes by without spotting me - run and yell to get his attention and he stops.

Every cell in my suddenly awakened brain is telling me that I'm about to be yelled at for running off like that in the middle of a traffic jam - dad just smiles and says "that was quite something, its a pity that you forgot to take the camera".

dtandon2009-03-17 17:49:03

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Yeah it is a pity you didn't take a camera. But for one minute I thought the cops were stopping you because of some dacoits. On some roads in UP and Rajasthan, you are only allowed to travel in convoys along with police escorts.

 

FRG

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Yeah - Its not everyday that one see's Merc trucks on our roads.

I don't think I've ever spotted another after that day - Volvo's yes, but no Merc's smiley6.gif

And why do people keep guessing (and correctly - at that) the later bits of this tale! First it was DD and now you talking about convoys and cops. I didn't think it was that predictable !! smiley2.gif

Saving the Chambal valley incident for later.

DT

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Chambal valley equals action in my opinion smiley2.gif

?

FRG

Well, since you are so wise with the ways of the world

- here is a sneak preview -

Less than 100 Kms to destination and the President starts loosing power and then dies on us for no apparent reason smiley16.gif smack-dab in the middle of the Chambal valley!

IMO - It was a bad place and time to learn a valuable lesson. The culprit was one of the jobs that was carried out on the car back in Mumbai not two days ago.

Wanna take a guess ?

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smiley38.gif

Chambal valley equals action in my opinion smiley2.gif

 

FRG

Well' date=' since you are so wise with the ways of the world
- here is a sneak preview -

Less than 100 Kms to destination and the President starts loosing power and then dies on us for no apparent reason smiley16.gif smack-dab in the middle of the Chambal valley!

IMO - It was a bad place and time to learn a valuable lesson. The culprit was one of the jobs that was carried out on the car back in Mumbai not two days ago.

Wanna take a guess ?
[/quote']

 

smiley38.gif Phoolan Devi !!! smiley38.gif  BTW do you know what FIAT stand's for: Fix It Again Tommorow ! No offense...
Durango Dude2009-03-18 10:57:47

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BTW do you know what FIAT stand's for: Fix It Again Tommorow ! No offense...

smiley36.gif nice one (I do appreciate humor)

Ok - must take deep breaths, One two three four five six seven eight nine ten. There you go.. no offense taken smiley1.gif

For the record - the same car did a Kathmandu trip and countless other Lucknow - Delhi - Punjab trips without any problems. So in my book, its not low on reliability (given the era its from).

Back to the "experience" at hand ...

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Sorry for the delay.. been hectic lately.

So - We get out and pop the hood. Check the CB points, fuel pump, air filter - all the usual suspects. Have a full tank of gas - having filled up just 40 Kms ago.

Let it cool down a little - reckon we have about a hour of daylight left.

Crank the engine again and it catches. But the note is clearly unhealthy, barely idling. Try to rev it and it dies again. The tool bag comes out - check the plugs, they look normal and are producing a spark when the engine is cranked. smiley11.gif

Prime suspect - bad fuel ! So out comes the Jerrycan and we start trying to flag down a passing trucker. It takes a while (thanks to the area we're in) - and its almost dark.

One stops eventually - and two cops jump out. The problem is explained to them and they tell the trucker to take me to the next petrol pump (only 5 Km ahead) while they keep my folks company.

He drops me off at the edge of the road next to the pump, I thank him for the ride and he's off.

smiley18.gif Big mistake - its one of those pumps that sell only diesel. Explain the situation to them, only to hear that the nearest petrol pump is 45 Km is the direction where I came from. Its the same pump that we're suspecting for having sold us bad fuel! The next one is apparently 60 Km away (opposite direction - towards our destination)

My troubles are just beginning - there's a decision to be made - do I go back empty handed or do I carry on and get petrol ?

Decide to keep going and finally get gas at the second pump. Hitch a ride back - Dad's nowhere to be seen !!

Mom explains that he got worried when I didn't show up for a whole hour and took off to look for me.. (I was only supposed to be gone a short while ~ it was 5 Kms ) The cops are still keeping us company.

It's back to the task at hand -

- Free the fuel pump intake from the tank line and hook up a spare tube that's long enough to reach the into the front seat (where I plan to keep the Jerrycan to feed the fuel pump).

- Take about a spoonful of petrol and pour it into the intake (helps start the engine temporarily when fuel supply is suspect)

- crank it - no good. Well, atleast Dad's back.

- thanks to the two cops, we have sufficient brawn to manhandle the president between the four of us. So we try push starting the car now.

- a lot of struggle (30 min of trying to push start)and we've only heard the engine sputter and die. This time, there's a loud explosion somewhere under the car - the muffler has exploded.

- crank it with the starter motor again and the engine starts immediately - apparently, the muffler got blocked and was literally choking the engile !

The cops have been helping us for more than two hours now - thank them profously - they refuse to accept any money(my dad offered them some). Give them a couple of boxes of sweets that we are carrying with us. We're good to go..

Good people do exist - we would have been in a real soup if those cops hadn't come to our aid.

The other lesson - never get any work done on the car immediately before heading out for a road trip. If you must fix something - do it well in advance and make sure that you use the car within the city for a coupe of days before you head out to the middle of nowhere.

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good one buddy, nice long review you shared, many of us have those stories on premier which has travelled across nations without much of an problems, and yes there are good people around to help one out, also a good lesson to learn.

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Sure - A picture is worth a thousand words.

But then, unless you are a journalist (no offense intended) - taking care of the problem at hand always comes first.

I was truly and completely surprised by the honest and helpful nature of cops who came to our aid - If it weren't for them, I'd have a very long hike to the gas station (forget about a getting tow)!

And after all that they did to help us - they wouldn't even accept a single rupee as a gift - makes me remember them to this day when I'm asked for "kharcha paani".

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