Just another guy on 2 wheels

A Truck called Old Monk

Bought the Force Gurkha home on 22nd November 2022.

We always named our rides. Going with the tradition, decided to call him Old Monk, since the Gurkha is basically the older version of the Mercedes Benz G-Wagen, which too had the same OM616 engine as the Gurkha.


Exactly a year back we had done a Test Drive at Mahalakshmi Force, the sole Force Motors dealership authorised to sell and service the Gurkha in Pune.
We needed a car which was abuse friendly, can carry heavy loads and could tackle bad roads with ease, which meant it had to be a ladder on frame SUV, a 4wd would be an added advantage. Despite of all the confusion hovering on phasing out the Diesel engines and the BS6 gremlins, we still decided to stick to Diesels.

The Contenders

1- Mahindra Scorpio N: The N fulfilled all our requirements. Booked a Z4 Diesel 4×4, but then cancelled it as the delivery time was completely irrational (2 years).
2- Mahindra XUV700: The 700 was never in the consideration since it was a monocoque, but decided to have a look since my better half expressed her interest. The XUV would have been a logical upgrade though. I managed to bang my head twice while trying to get inside, not a good sign I guess. The AWD version was available only on the top trim, which i felt was not fair. Moreover the 700 came with an all white interior, which i felt would be very difficult to maintain in the long run.
3- Toyota Innova Crysta: By the time we could book, Toyota had stopped taking bookings for the Crysta Diesel. The petrol version was available though.
4- Mahindra Thar: We would have bought one if the rear seats were easily accessible. The interiors felt very cramped and claustrophobic, less boot space and had a bumpy ride.
5- Isuzu Dmax VCross: The VCross remained in the race till the last. A bit of bargaining and the dealer decided to provide Insurance at zero cost. But looking at the abysmal sales number, we feared Isuzu would pack their bags and leave for good.

Test Driving the Gurkha, again…..!

During the second visit, we got to drive through an offbeat track to experience the four wheel drive hardware. Also, the dealership was kind enough to bring the Gurkha over to my residence, as I wanted to check if it would fit my parking space.

Owing to its height, I was a bit sceptical if the Gurkha would touch any of the overhead pipelines. With the luggage rack, there was only a four finger gap between the Jerry can holder and the overhead pipes. Owing to this decided not to install the luggage rack.

Selling the S-Cross

The S-Cross had almost completed seven years. It was getting a bit difficult to maintain in terms of availability of spares. As we approached November, I had to take an impromptu decision, as the more I delayed, the more I would loose on resale. Approached Spinny who gave me a fairly good deal. The car was inspected, evaluated and sold in three days, which left us in a dilemma and without a car.

Convincing the family

Everyone except me didn’t like the idea of buying the Gurkha since it wasn’t a typical family car. It looks quirky and has a striking resemblance with its commercial cousins (Trax). Since no cars were available immediately, the only choice left was the Gurkha.

Booking experience

It took us two weeks to finally decide on the Gurkha, another week to get the finance sorted. With the payment done, Old monk started his maiden 700km journey from Pithampur, MP to the dealership at Pune.

Delivery22nd November 2022

By the time we reached the showroom, Old Monk stood there decked up, all ready to meet his new owners.

With the customary Pooja done, I cranked up the engine and coasted the truck out of the showroom.

We headed out to the nearest fuel station and got the tank filled to the brim. With a rated capacity of 63L, Old monk managed to gulp down 60L of Diesel.

The next day, we headed over to the Ayyappa Temple at Dhanori and got the Vahana Pooja done by the head priest, who turned out to be a car buff himself.

As of today, the odo stands at 5.5k km.

Journey with Old Monk

  • Multiple trips to Mumbai
  • Pune-Shirdi-Nagpur (via Samruddhi Mahamarg)
  • Missal Pav drives to Lonavala
  • Malshej

More to come…..

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Driving on the Hinduhridaysamrat Balasaheb Thackeray Samruddhi Mahamarg

Last week we drove on the newly opened Samruddhi Expressway, also known as Hinduhridaysamrat Balasaheb Thackeray Samruddhi Mahamarg from Shirdi to Nagpur and back on our newly acquired Force Gurkha.

Facts and Info

The Samruddhi Mahamarg connects Mumbai to Nagpur, spanning a total distance of 701km, out of which the 530km stretch from Shirdi to Nagpur was inaugurated on the 11th of December by the hon’ble PM Narendra Modi, and was subsequently opened up for the general public.

A route map of the districts being connected, image source: tbhp

Toll rates, chargeable as per the distance covered, image source: tbhp

Pay as you use, you need to pay the toll only when you exit through the designated interchanges. There are no toll booths in between.

List of functional Interchanges, image source: tbhp

The Journey

We entered the expressway via the Shirdi Interchange to proceed towards Nagpur.

Shirdi Interchange

The expressway is fully concretised, except the bridges which are tarred. The grade separators are pretty much seamless and hardly unsettles the ride.

The expressway felt pretty much deserted as there were no amenities throughout the 500+ km stretch, except for a few functional petrol pumps. We fuelled up the Gurkha at Shirdi as we anticipated less number of petrol pumps.

Some Observations:

  • Excellent road conditions, seamless joints. The expressway is fully concrete, bridges are tarred.
  • Roads are well marked.
  • Most petrol pumps from Nagpur to Shirdi are operational (fuel availability). Most petrol pumps stock on wafers, snacks, and machine dispensed tea/coffee. We survived on Haldiram wafers and apple juice.
  • Absolutely no wayside amenities available. You can use the washrooms of the fuel stations, no questions asked.
  • Concrete surface is pretty rough, since the Gurkha comes with AT tyres, the ride was a bit noisy.
  • Saw Foxes, Langurs, Peacocks and stray dogs wandering all over the highway. One needs to be alert as i saw lot of carcasses (dogs).
  • The Nagpur Interchange is all decked up with laser lights and flowers. One can visit the entry point at night to see the lightings and project presentations. The speakers were blaring out songs praising the obvious.
  • Saw lot of tyre burst cases and accidents (a completely burnt duster, an Ecosport with a sheared roof as it ploughed through the barrier, a completely totalled Accent with a missing front end, a truck minus its under carriage).
  • The expressway isn’t completely marked on Google maps.
  • 2/3 wheelers are not allowed.
One of the very few petrol pumps that sold wafers and machine dispensed tea and coffee.
Haldiram’s wafers, our survival kit

Toll paid and Fastag experience

Fastag worked pretty well at all the Toll booths we crossed (briefly exited at Mehker IC to visit the Lonar Crater).
Total toll paid: INR 900/- one way


The Samruddhi highway is an engineering marvel. As you enter the highway, all you need to do is set the cruise control to the desired speeds and you are done. One needs to be alert of errand animals (we saw Foxes, Dogs and Langurs roaming on the highway). There is a good chance of the driver to feel dizzy or sleepy as very little intervention is required. Since the entire stretch is concretised, the tyres need to be in good condition as they tend to heat up more on concrete roads. Maintaining speeds above 100kmph for straight 6-7 hours especially during summer (Vidharbha experiences some extreme temperatures) can take a toll on the tyres.

Sunrise at the Nagpur IC.
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Last week I test rode the KTM Adventure 390. I have been wanting to TD the adv 390 ever since it hit the market, two years back.

Through Tbhp, i came to know of the 2022 ADV 390 being kept on display at the KTM showroom at Baner. Being a Saturday and a holiday, decided to visit the showroom.


Entered the showroom and was promptly attended to by a lady at the reception. Requested for a Test Drive, since someone had already taken the bike for a TD, I decided to checkout the 2022 model which was kept on display.

Presenting the 2022 KTM 390 390 Adventure

First Impressions, the bike doesn’t look much different than its predecessor. Some of the changes include:

  • All new 5 spoke (earlier was 6 spoked) alloy wheels which KTM claims is much stronger and lighter by 1 kg.
  • Two new updated paint schemes
  • New riding modes – Street and off-road
Meter console remains same but displays the riding modes
Metzeler tyres, one of the best OEM provided tyres

Thankfully, KTM has resumed providing the Metzelers. During lock down and the recent shakedown on imported tyres by the Indian govt, KTM was providing MRF tyres.

Meanwhile, got the keys of a 2021 highly abused piece that had more than 20k on the odo. Below are my observations as compared to my Himalayan:

  • Even after being a heavily abused motorcycle, the engine was smooth and super responsive.
  • Has enough power to cruise at three digit speeds all day, the ECU is tuned for linear power delivery, the first gen Duke 390s had brutal power to scare the daylights out of you.
  • Very much light weight as compared to the Himalayan.
  • Gets ride by wire throttle
  • Seat height is higher than the Himalayan
  • Seats are harder, but spacious
  • Felt the low end better on my Himalayan
  • On bad roads, its better to hammer the throttle, on slow speeds its bumpy, whereas the Himalayan just glides.
  • Very nimble and light weight
  • Clutch is super light
  • Pair your phone and you get turn by turn navigation and caller ID whenever you get a call.

I have been looking out for a suitable replacement for my Himalayan, since I wanted something which can do high speeds all day. The Himalayan is a pretty decent bike, but doing high speeds are pretty much uncomfortable since the bike lacks decent power, anything above 100 and the engine starts to strain. Where the Himalayan trumps is comfort, a better low end and simplicity. With On-road price coming close to 4 lacs, it ain’t cheap but the adv 390 has enough power to keep up with the big bikes.

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Part -2 Padharo Maro Desh, the Rajasthan Chapter – Jaipur, a photologue

Route – Udaipur – Sirohi – Pali – Beawar -Ajmer – Jaipur
Place of Stay – Hotel Jaipur Ashok, owned by Rajasthan Tourism
Distance Covered – 600km

The next day greeted us with a beautiful view of the sunrise, since the hotel was located on top of a hill.

Sun rise view from the hotel
The beautiful sun kissed Udaipur city

We decided to take the Udaipur-Sirohi-Pali-Jaipur route as we had planned to visit the famous Shree Om Banna temple, also known as the Bullet Baba. The temple is located on the Pali-Jodhpur highway, 20km from Pali.

Post breakfast, checked out of the hotel and hit NH 62. The NH-62 happens to be the longest highway to pass through seven districts of Rajasthan. We were warned of the legal speed limits (100kmph for 4 lane & 80kmph for 2 lane highways) since RJ police are known to harass out of state vehicles.

Dilli ab door nahi

By the time we reached Pali, we were famished (roadtrips can make you hungry). Decided to have an early lunch and stopped at a Dhaba which looked decent.

Bas-pan ka yaad

Post lunch, we quickly headed towards Pali and took a diversion towards Jodhpur. As we reached the temple, we could see many travellers stopping by to pray for a safe journey.

Main entrance
Om Banna’s 350cc RE Bullet bearing reg number – RNJ 7773
Riders, part of the Sands of time ride, organised by Royal Enfield.

History says, Om Banna a Rajasthani Biker, met with an accident and died after hitting the tree on this very dark stretch. Next day, the local police took the motorcycle to a nearby police station, only to find it missing the very next day. The motorcycle was later found back at the site of the incident. The Police, once again took the motorcycle back, emptied its fuel tank and secured it with a lock. Despite their best efforts, the motorcycle again disappeared and was later found at the accident site. This kept repeating umpteen number of times and every attempt by the police to secure the bike remained futile.

This incident was later seen as a miracle by the locals and a shrine was made, where the bike was worshipped. Travellers who pass by, stop and pray to the bike and its owner Om Banna for a safe journey.

After seeking his blessings, we resumed our Journey to Jaipur. Traffic was pretty much dense since the highway went all the way till Delhi. We managed to reach the hotel by 8:00pm. Completed the checkin formalities, ordered some room service and called it a day.

Hotel Jaipur Ashok-RTDC

Next day, had an early breakfast and left for Amber Fort which was around 15km. On the way saw the famous Hawa Mahal and Jal Mahal. Since it was early, didn’t wait for it to open and quickly made our way to Amber fort.

Hawa Mahal & Jal Mahal

The road towards Amber fort is narrow and steep, but pretty doable with your own vehicle. One can hire a Jeep which would drop you at the entrance of the fort.

The steep road towards the parking lot

By the time we reached Suraj Pol (entrance gate) of the fort, it was getting a bit crowded. While paying the entry fees, we decided to hire a guide to understand the history of the fort in a better way.

Amber Fort from top left- Maota Lake, Sheesh Mahal Courtyard, Amber fort from main road, Ganesh Pol Entrance or the first Entrance, and one of the queen’s room

Amber fort which is located on top of a hill was originally built by Raja Man Singh. Jaigarh Fort lies beside Amber fort where the armaments were manufactured for the army. It took us close to two hours to complete the tour.

View of Jaigarh fort with a cup of tea.

As we wanted to explore the city, decided to return back to the hotel to park the car and further explore by foot or public transport. While planning our trip, we had stumbled upon one of the videos of a YouTuber -Golgappa Girl, where she recommends visiting couple of restaurants. Based on one of her recommendations, we decided to visit Lassiwala to try out their famous creamy Lassi.

True to its reviews- lassi was nice and creamy.

Had one large glass or rather Kullad full of Lassi which was more than enough for both of us. We later made our way towards Jantar Mantar which was nearby. An open-air astronomical observatory and UNESCO declared World Heritage Site, Jantar Mantar is basically a collection of 19 astronomical instruments and was built in the early 18th century by Maharaja Jai Singh, who had a fascination towards celestial objects.

L-R Yantra Raj, Chakra Yantra, Kapali Yantra, Dakshin Bhitti Yantra and Laghu Sampat Yantra
Cancerians we are..!

Post Jantar Mantar, we decided to wrap up Jaipur by having some famous Kachoris. Again, upon Golgappa Girl’s recommendation, decided to visit Rawat Misthan Bhandar, popularly known as RMB. RMB has some really good reviews and true to that, the Kachoris were very tasty.

Pyaaj (Onion) Kachoris at RMB

Headed back to the hotel and called it a day.

Next day, next leg-Amritsar.

To be continued…..

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Part -1 Padharo Maro Desh, the Rajasthan Chapter-Udaipur

This winter, we decided to go on a road trip to cover some key places of North India. We decided to do a quick tour of Udaipur and Jaipur which was enroute of one of our intended destinations. We had visited MtAbu and Jaisalmer couple of years back.

Route- Pune – Mumbai-Vadodara-Godhra-Shamlaji-Udaipur
Place of stay – Hotel Anand Bhawan owned by the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation
Total Distance Covered – 910km

Started our journey at 4am, we hit the Mumbai Pune expressway only to encounter some heavy fog which drastically reduced our progress.

First break at the Khalapur Foodmall

As we neared Airoli, google maps decided to route us through the western expressway via Dahisar since Ghodbunder road had a 30min roadblock. Managed to wrestle ourselves out of Mumbai and stopped for breakfast at Palghar.

The Mumbai-Ahmedabad part has always been a tiring stretch thanks to the heavy truck traffic. The drive gets more tiring since majority of the trucks hog along the rightmost lane and refuse to give way for overtaking. By the time we reached Bharuch it was lunch time.

Had some Kathiawari lunch and resumed our journey. After bypassing Baroda we entered SH-87 which connects Vadodara via Halol till Shamlaji. The State highway surprisingly was in excellent condition all the way till Shamlaji where we again joined the Golden Quadrilateral (NH-48).

Hello Rajasthan

The road from Kherwara all the way till Udaipur was something we have never seen or let alone driven upon before. One can do insane speeds as the Tarmac quality was superb. Lanes and corners were properly marked with good amount of reflectors. We reached the hotel by 9:30pm. We started wearing our winter wear since it was getting very cold, the MID was showing 12deg and dropping.

The beautiful Udaipur city shining at all her glory

The next morning we got up a bit late since we were tired. Being on a tight schedule, we decided to visit only a few places.

Hotel Anand Bhawan, owned by RTDC, located near Fateh Singh Lake

The first place we visited was the Jagdish Temple, situated right next to the City Palace. To enter the shrine one needs to climb 32 stairs. Built by Maharana Jagat Singh, the temple Sanctum has idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Krishna, Lord Ganesha, Lord Shiva and Goddess Shakti.

After seeking blessings, we started walking towards the City palace. We decided to use local transport since most of the roads of old Udaipur was dug up, making it difficult and inaccessible in some places. The entire road towards the city palace was dug up.

Kullad chai before entering the palace

Bought the entry tickets and entered the main gate

Entry Tickets
Main Gate
Security Guards

After going through the security check, we finally entered the palace. Being a weekend, it was super crowded. We started getting a bit uncomfortable and prayed the N95 masks we were wearing was doing its job.

The palace, built on top of a hill is a mix of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture.

The magnificent city palace

The palace overlooks the beautiful Udaipur city as well as the famous Lake Pichola.

Lake Pichola
City View

By the time we finished seeing the City palace it was past lunch time. We decided to visit Bagore ki Haveli since it was nearby.

Exploring by walk is the best way to get around

Bagore ki Haveli is situated at Gangotri Ghat and overlooks Lake Pichola.

Lake Pichola from Bagore ki Haveli

By the time we came out, we were famished as it was well past the lunch time. Down the lane we saw a cafe (Sky Lounge) and decided to try it out since it was one of those roof type ones facing the lake.

Sandwiches with a view

Spent some time at the cafe since we were feeling very tired. By the time we were done, it was almost 4pm and decided to call it a day. Slowly made our way to the hotel since we had to pack and prepare for our next leg of the Journey.

To be continued….

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My experience driving the all new 2021 Force Gurkha.

Last weekend me and wifey visited the Force motors dealership near Hadapsar at Pune-Solapur highway to checkout the new Gurkha. Since I had driven the older variant, I was curious to know how the new one would be.

As we entered the showroom, beside the Tempo Traveller stood the all new 2021 Force Gurkha in red colour, waiting for its new owners to take it home.

The all new Force Gurkha

First impressions – it’s huge, even higher than its nemesis, the Mahindra Thar although the latter has a wider wheel track. The body felt beefy and well built than its previous version. The doors felt very heavy and needs some effort to open and close. Step on the footboard while holding the grab handle on the A pillar, you need to “climb” inside the SUV. The most criticised part of the old Gurkha was the Dashboard which had a tiny Tachometer placed at the centre. The new Dashboard has been redesigned and is no way similar to the older model. The Tachometer thankfully finds its place right next to the speedometer.

Commanding view from the Driver seat. The two side indicators beside the hood act as good reference points while taking tight turns.

Driving Impressions – Start the Gurkha and the 4cyl OM616 Merc derived engine quickly settles down into a quite idle. The same engine does duty on the Tempo Traveller and Cruiser. The clutch felt very light for a 2.6l engine, even lighter than my SCross. Gear shifts are smooth, slots in without any fuss but felt the gear lever to be placed a bit far. The steering gets a telescopic adjustment only and sadly doesn’t get tilt adjustment. Let go off the clutch and the Gurkha lurches ahead even without any input from the accelerator. Those who have driven Tata Sumos, Thar DI or the Cruiser will instantly connect. You need to upshift fast since the Gurkha has a very narrow power band, 3500 rpm is the max that the engine would rev. Requested the sales rep to take over during the return leg as i wanted to observe how he was driving, quick shifting at the right time is the key, you can’t drive the Gurkha the way you drive a hatchback or a sedan. Felt the pedals were placed a bit closer to my comfort. The Gurkha, does have some body roll, which is the signature trait of a Body on Frame configuration but is well controlled, the suspension takes care of bad roads pretty well, even better than the Thar which gets unsettled while going over undulations. At low speeds you can easily weave through with ease, on high speeds its not a good idea to play slalom. Coming from an EPS, i expected the Hydraulic Steering of the Gurkha to be heavier, but surprisingly i was easily able to steer without any difficulty. The Gurkha now gets LED headlights with DRLs instead of the traditional Halogen unit. The Gurkha also gets TPMS which i felt, looked like an aftermarket accessory. The power window switches are present near the gear lever, strangely the winding action is super slow.

Gurkha Vs Thar, image source – Autocar
The TD vehicle

The HVAC was very effective considering the large glass area and no rear vents. Even with the blower set to 1, the cooling is pretty much effective, even at the rear. The rear seating is where the Gurkha shines in terms of comfort. Although the vehicle is quite high, my wife could easily climb into the rear seat with ease (you need to open the rear door and get in as compared to the Thar where you need to fold the front seat to get in). The Gurkha gets a 7in Infotainment system by Kenwood which supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Gurkha has now become much more practical and liveable and yet has managed to stick to its roots of being a capable off-roader. With all the shortcomings, the Gurkha still can do 100-110kph all day without skipping a beat. Force motors have set up a dedicated team to deal with any issues faced by the Gurkha owners.

Coming from a remapped 400Nm Scross 1.6, the Gurkha felt very underpowered, but I would still love (as a second car) to own one considering the pathetic roads in Maharashtra, where I can simply hammer the throttle and glide my way through over bad roads.

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7even years with Schlumberger, it’s time to hang up my hat(Late Post).

As I put down the side stand of my motorcycle, my wife nudged me as my phone was vibrating which I surprisingly failed to notice. We were pretty much excited since we were traveling to our native for the first time post our marriage, and Onam was just around the corner. I hurriedly went through my left pocket of my pant to get my phone and-
Recruiter- Hi Rakesh, this is XXXXX, calling from Schlumberger on behalf of the recruiting team, are you looking out for a job change.
Me- I still don’t remember what I fumbled.

The “Packaged” Life
I was working for a Swiss-based packaging machine-building company for 3.5 years. The company was pretty good in terms of learning since every project was interesting and why shouldn’t it be, as I got to be a grease monkey, working on the machines with my bare hands, be it gearboxes, cams, turrets or electromechanical drives. With respect to the compensation I was drawing, I could just manage to pull off since I was just a bachelor. Things started going down the hill post my marriage when all of sudden the expenses skyrocketed which slowly eroded my substantial savings. I started looking out for opportunities and ended up sending in my resume to one of my ex-colleagues who had joined SLB, based out in Pune.

Why Schlumberger?

It’s an 80 year old largest oil field services company, part of fortune 500. Coincidently post my Diploma, i did come around an opportunity to work as a Field engineer, but skipped it since my father wanted me to pursuit my Bachelors.

My Journey as an SLB-ian

I joined the SFTC (Fibre Optics) team as an individual contributor to work on the Digital Temperature Sensing Unit, worked there for two years. I also got the opportunity to travel to Southampton, UK to attend the fibre optics training school along with my fellow field engineers. As I got promoted to a lead position, I was entrusted to take care of the testing, where I was given the opportunity to lead a 10 member team. Somewhere in 2017 I got the opportunity to travel to Houston Texas to closely work with the team on a new platform. I also got to explore the Augmented and Virtual Reality space.

What did I learn?

Starting as an Individual contributor to managing a team of 10 subordinates, staffing/recruiting and sustaining, setting up teams, setting standards, bringing in projects, working on Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality projects, my experience has been endless. Moreover I got to work with the best of the best people in the Industry. 

On the last day
It did begin to sink in.

When I logged out off the Schlumberger laptop for the last time, it felt weird as to not see my familiar team members on MS Teams- doing weekly updates, solving issues, sharing a laugh and helping each others when in distress.

As i step into a new role, i did feel a bit nervous but at the same time excited to start my journey with Ciena, my gateway to the IT domain.

As i pen down this blog, I already have a few known names in the address book.

Cheers to a new beginning!!


Done with my probation and sailed through two software releases.

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Test Drove the new Royal Enfield Classic 350

The new Classic 350 was unveiled two days back. Being an ex Classic 500 owner, i was curious as to know how the new Classic would be.

Headed to Brahma Motors at Wakdewadi to check out the bike. Initial impressions, the bike felt pretty solidly built. The biggest change is the engine where the UCE has been replaced with a J series engine, which first came on the meteor, the UCE being a Pushrod and the J series being the modern OHC engine.

Although its very early to judge, it seems RE has upped the ante in terms of quality. The bike feels well put together and improvement in quality is very much visible. The top end gets a Tripper navigation right next to the speedometer (mixture of Analog and Digital). RE has also thrown in a USB charger. The classic shares identical chassis with the meteor since the J series engine was made while keeping in mind that it will be shared with the two platforms.

Riding Impressions- Feels very “Japanese”, surprisingly very refined, smooth and doesn’t have the signature RE vibrations. The seats felt perfect and very comfortable as compared to the old classic. The pillion seat is also wide and comfortable. Gear shifts are super precise and gears slot in without any fuss. The bike however slightly loses out on the trademark “Thump” that REs (except the LS 410 of the Himalayan) has been famous for right from it’s cast iron days. The engine since being an OHC, sounds more “Speedy” as compared to the Pushrod engines that felt “lazy” enough to emanate the iconic Thump. The bike surprisingly feels more nimble than its predecessor all thanks to the new chassis.

Although I am pretty much impressed with the new Classic, somewhere or the other I miss the “torquey” character and the thump of the Classic 500 which I feel will always be one of the best singles made. Hoping to see RE fit the 650cc engine in the classic, pretty sure it will be one motorcycle I would love to have in my garage.

On the XUV 700 Engine Specs and Pricing

After being spotted a zillion times on test, at every nook and corner of the country, the XUV 700 was finally unveiled on 15th of August.

Coming to the powertrain options, the first one is a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine (mstallion) that makes 197 BHP and 380 Nm, offered both with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. The second engine on offer is a 2.2-litre turbocharged diesel (mhawk) that makes 153 BHP & 360 Nm mated to a 6-speed MT in the base variant. The same engine is offered in a higher state of tune in the more expensive variants and makes around 182 BHP & 420 Nm with the 6-speed MT. The AT gets 30 Nm more torque. An AWD variant is only available in the topmost AT Diesel variant.

In terms of features and safety, the XUV 700 comes fully loaded with radar based driver assistance system, panoramic sunroof, pop out door handles, driver memory seat, 360deg camera and Alexa enabled 10.25 inch infotainment system with a 12 speaker Sony set up. In terms of safety, the XUV 700 comes equipped with 7 airbags, Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with disc brakes all around, hill descent and hill hold system and Driver drowsiness detection system.

In terms of pricing, Mahindra has gone super aggressive, with the base variant of Petrol costing close to INR 11.99 lacs ex showroom and the base variant of Diesel costing close to INR 12.49 Lacs, making it the most powerful SUV under 15 lacs, although Mahindra is yet to reveal the pricing of the higher variants. This pricing has surely caused sleepless nights for some of the competitors.

With the second gen Thar being revealed last year (same date, 15th August, Independence Day) and the XUV 700 this year with an awesome powertrain package with a super aggressive and affordable package, Mahindra has upped the ante. The Thar has become a runaway success with the waiting period going close to 12 months, it remains to be seen what the response would be for the XUV 700.

Working From Home, since 2020..!

My modest WFH set up, Palakkad, Kerala

It’s been more than a year since I started working from home. The pandemic forced lakhs of working professionals like me to start working from home.

Way back in March 2020, my parents were in Pune and were planning to return back to Kerala. By that time, Covid had slowly started spreading throughout the length and breath of the country. Since it had been quite some time we visited our hometown, we decided to drive down since travelling by public transport was risky. As we reached Kerala, few weeks down the line a total lockdown was declared throughout the country. Fortunately I had taken my laptop, hello Work From Home…!

Most of my 2020 (9 months) was spend at my native. This would be the longest span ever I spent at my native ever since I started working. The most important necessity for working from home was a good Internet. I did have a broadband connection but the VPN started acting funny which used to get disconnected from the Internet. In the initial phases, almost all the ISPs faced lot of issues in terms of bandwidth due to sudden surge in users. I decided to buy a Jiofy (dongle by Jio) device which gave me stable and seamless connectivity. This also helped me work from anywhere, some days at my home, some days at my wife’s home.

When we returned back to Pune, my employer had rolled out a “Work From Home” pandemic package through which I could set up an office like workstation at home. Taking advantage, I bought an office chair, desk, monitor, keyboard with mouse and a good headset. Since we were facing frequent power cuts, I invested on an Inverter.

Coming to the pros, I no longer had to waste time commuting through the rush hour traffic. I got more time to spend for myself, going for morning/evening walks, reading books (bought a Kindle), watching movies and the most important, re/up-skilling. In terms of productivity, I could effectively finish my projects well before the deadlines since distractions were minimal. Pre Pandemic, I could spend only less days with my parents, but with WFH, I no longer had to exhaust my vacations since I could work from just about anywhere.

On the cons, I miss the early morning bike rides to office, but only during winter.

First day of office commute, 2nd January, 2020

I certainly miss catching up with my colleagues over chai, coffee or Lunch breaks.

Pandemic forced the companies to adopt the Work From Home concept. People no longer wanted to head back to the concrete jungle. Majority of them have moved back to their villages or hometown for good, away from the busy city life. As an example, one of my friend started farming on his father’s farmland, which over the period of time flourished. He is currently in the process of opening up a poultry business.

As for me, I prefer the hybrid way of working, where I can go to office as and when I feel it’s required, for the rest of the time, Home Sweet Home.

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