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Old 31st January 2009, 17:29   #31
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Phew, the report continues *clicks 5 star rating*. Samurai, it's only when we are out with other Jeeps that we realise the value of the SWB.

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And the rocky hill starts. Yup, it is very steep, no camera trick here, notice the angle of the trees.
Whoa! That is steep. What low gear did you use? How did the other Jeeps fare? In the rains, it'll either be impossible or your tyres are God. It'll be great to hear about the strengths & weaknesses of each 4x4.

Also, the rocky trail reminds me and if it helps anyone : In such circumstances, NEVER hold the steering such that your thumbs are resting on the steering spokes. One wild (forced) steering jerk and your thumb is history. I have seen many people break / injure their thumbs this way.

Last edited by GTO : 31st January 2009 at 17:31.
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Old 31st January 2009, 17:36   #32
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Originally Posted by GTO View Post

Whoa! That is steep. What low gear did you use? How did the other Jeeps fare? In the rains, it'll either be impossible or your tyres are God. It'll be great to hear about the strengths & weaknesses of each 4x4.
Except one gypsy all other climbed that trail. Gypsy need momentum to climb but khan gypsy crawled like mahindra jeep.
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Old 31st January 2009, 17:40   #33
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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Also, the rocky trail reminds me and if it helps anyone : In such circumstances, NEVER hold the steering such that your thumbs are resting on the steering spokes. One wild (forced) steering jerk and your thumb is history. I have seen many people break / injure their thumbs this way.
Amen. We have one chap with a permanently injured thumb in our office.

Making sure your steering is dead-straight is one of the biggest challenges while driving on sand where the terrain makes your steering go crazy. On a couple of occassions I thought it was dead straight when it was actually one full turn to the L or R - this can mean a rollover while going straight down.
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Old 31st January 2009, 18:39   #34
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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Whoa! That is steep. What low gear did you use?
I used 2nd low all the way whenever crawling was needed. It was no sweat for the CJ340.

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
How did the other Jeeps fare? In the rains, it'll either be impossible or your tyres are God. It'll be great to hear about the strengths & weaknesses of each 4x4.
The Srini's Armada in front of me was crawling even slower than me, so I suspect he may have been using 1st low. Not sure, let him clarify. I was told by Sam that no AT tyre can make it when it is slushy, it has to be NDMS or mud tyres.

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Also, the rocky trail reminds me and if it helps anyone : In such circumstances, NEVER hold the steering such that your thumbs are resting on the steering spokes. One wild (forced) steering jerk and your thumb is history. I have seen many people break / injure their thumbs this way.
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Originally Posted by Steeroid View Post
Amen. We have one chap with a permanently injured thumb in our office.
Thanks to NJ driving manual from which I learnt I driving, I always keep my fingers on the face of the wheel, and not curled in. Therefore I didn't have to make a conscious effort at that.

Motor Vehicle Commission - Driver Manual (Ignore the silly photo, that is wrong)

That become very useful during rock hopping, the steering wheel was spinning like domino, first one way, half a second later the other way. I actually left the wheel alone to watch the spinning, ask rippergeo how crazy the steerng wheel was spinning.

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Making sure your steering is dead-straight is one of the biggest challenges while driving on sand where the terrain makes your steering go crazy. On a couple of occassions I thought it was dead straight when it was actually one full turn to the L or R - this can mean a rollover while going straight down.
Since the Jeep steering is very vague, it is impossible to tell the position looking at steering wheel at any time. Also the steering wheel doesn't snap back on it's own after the turn most of the time.

See the steering position in Arka's Jeep while going straight:


The CJ340 steering was in 4 O' clock position while straight when we started, and finished in 6 O' clock while straight by the end of the day. So most Jeep drivers develop a sense of tyre direction by feel, we never get affected by which way the steering wheel is pointing.
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Old 31st January 2009, 19:42   #35
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I am replying to samurai s doubt about speed while offroading, usually my sense while offroading is to make the vehicle crawl or glide over the obstacles so that vehicle will not buckle and hit the obstacle and also spring blades will not get streched beyond their camber, this prevents breakage of spring blades. Hence during munnar OTR I used 4L all the time and also during down hill drive I managed the vehicle in gears only without using clutch and brake, this way I had maximum control of the vehicle. As for your question, I was in 4L 1st gear when you were behind me.
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Old 31st January 2009, 20:21   #36
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@GTO, Those steeps in rain is too slippery and difficult for a stock jeep. I think shanavaz's gypsy with those Maxxis and lockers are the one to watch for. There are instances of me slipping for 30-40 mts in some steeps on my Ndms tyres. And when it rains this terrain is totally different and is a bit too risky, especially while going down.

@Samurai,Nice pictures and a great report as usual.

Last edited by khan_sultan : 31st January 2009 at 21:16. Reason: Added space after punctuations
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Old 31st January 2009, 20:48   #37
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WOW
Excellent pictures & lovely location
I am sure u ppl must have enjoyed a lot
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Old 31st January 2009, 21:09   #38
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Originally Posted by M P Sreenivasan View Post
I am replying to samurai s doubt about speed while offroading, usually my sense while offroading is to make the vehicle crawl or glide over the obstacles so that vehicle will not buckle and hit the obstacle and also spring blades will not get streched beyond their camber, this prevents breakage of spring blades. Hence during munnar OTR I used 4L all the time and also during down hill drive I managed the vehicle in gears only without using clutch and brake, this way I had maximum control of the vehicle.
Sreeni, I think we all follow the No-ABC principle in slopes, that is no Accelerator, no Brake and no Clutch. That was the first lesson I was taught in Arka Academy.

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As for your question, I was in 4L 1st gear when you were behind me.
I was pretty sure about that. You were slower than my 4L 2nd. Since CJ340 has one of the highest axle ratio at 5.38, I can do most of my crawling at 4L 2nd. The CJ340 would be very very slow at 4L 1st, much slower than your 4L 1st. I used 4L 1st only in that narrow village trail, that was one place where you moved faster than me.
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Old 31st January 2009, 21:17   #39
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After reading the interesting & adventurous account of OTR on this thread, I have a new found interest in OTR now

Samurai, very intriguing report, please keep it coming....!
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Old 1st February 2009, 08:57   #40
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Steep trail was a good one for sure!! How did srinivas's armada Di do here? Did its LWB pose any problem? I was really impressed with its performace in palar.
Did I hear Palar, MPS, any pics available with you Sir?

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Man Vinod, Sreeni is one heck of an offroader...he can manage with pretty much any jeep... and he has done some amazing trails with this LWB..including Rajasthan, Leh, you name it!
Yes Sir, we have heard first hand from him and he is a person with a lot of commitment to the sport!


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That was the first lesson I was taught in Arka Academy.
Sharat, thats a nice one..well..Arka Academy eh?


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Iam looking for a hard top for my family purpose and offroading, sell your jeep to me
Pick up a used Bolero 2wd and give the Arka Academy treatment Vinod!
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Old 1st February 2009, 09:05   #41
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Indeed, Indeed....Gods own country!!
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Old 1st February 2009, 19:03   #42
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At first we thought we will wait for everybody to reach the hill top before we start eating. After waiting for 45 minutes, it dawned on the Jeep Thrills moderators that it might be practical to start lunch.

The lunch decision was further compounded by the fact that not all had their lunch boxes arrive on the hill. The lunch packets of Ayur county dwellers were already on the hill top in Shakirís Gypsy. However, people from some other resorts were not so lucky, their lunch was still on Jeeps that were yet to arrive. Therefore, it was announced ďThose who have food, start eating, those who donít, watch them eatĒ.

Suddenly we see two Jeeps coming up.

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It was one of the most recognizable Jeep in the country, Dr.Joneís Prowler.

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Although many of us were a little apprehensive about the poori/baaji combo procured by Louis, it turned out to be of excellent taste. People were left smacking their lips and licking their fingers. Still I decided to give away the 3 extra lunch packs to a certain green Jeep whose occupants were giving fruits to everybody who passed by their Jeep every time. No one came away empty handed after passing their Jeep.

As we collected all the trash after lunch, it struck me that we may need to collect proof of our good behavior. Parm, this is for you, rest easy now.

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Meanwhile I was a little confused about the remaining 17 lunch packs I bought for Hyderabad Jeepers. According to the latest rumour at that time, all of them had returned back after the village where Dwarakaís Gypsy had parked. I gotta a say one thing about the Hyderabad Jeepers. Although I didnít meet anybody else other than Shams from their group, the rumour mill was working so hard, I didnít know what was true and what was false, there were just too many stories going around. I guess the main reason was none of them other than Shams mingled around with other Jeepers. The curiosity led to all kind of stories. Coming back to the lunch, if they indeed returned from the village, it would be prudent to give the lunch packets to people whose lunch had not arrived. Still I decided to wait until I get some official confirmation. Since cellular signal was non-existent in this area, it was very hard to get any information except from a newly arriving Jeep.

So we wait.

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Some Jeepers are frisky while waiting and the hill ahead of us beckons them.

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Slowly some Jeepers start exploring the hill.

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Rest of them are clicking away.

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More and more are joining the hill climbing frenzy, even a Gypsy.

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But Shahnawaz Khan displays remarkable calm and ignore all calls to test his Gypsy on Steroids on the hill.

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The hill top parking lot is still empty and no more Jeeps are arriving.

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We are here for more than an hour now and my wife is getting a little impatient. She is hoping to reach the resort soon and take charge of the kid, and sleep early for next dayís long ride back home.

Eventually, some of us decided to go down and investigate. I too join up since I want to know the fate of Hyderabad Jeepers so that I can decide on the lunch packets. We all get into Vijaykumarís Jeep and go down the way we came. About 500 meters down we run into couple of Jeeps and Gypsies. We get down to talk, and I am glad to see Shams among them. He had come up specifically to pickup the lunch packets, which finally resolved my dilemma.
While I was standing around I hear somebody yelling my name from a Gypsy, and I was pleasantly shocked to see most of the gang from the Muthodi trip last year.

See this: https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/4x4-o...-otr-meet.html

So I jumped into Prithviís Gypsy and happily started yapping with Prithvi, Mark & Mukund while going up. I even got to snap couple of shots of the trail where it was wider on the way up.

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Shooting photos of narrow treacherous part of the trail was still not a possibility unless I was willing to walk up. Walking up is not a good idea, if a Jeep comes behind you, it would put you into a sticky position, no place to hide.

After reaching the hill top again, I finally got to meet Jammy and Shakir (the Jeepwalla, not Gypsywalla). My wife too came and met all of them, we hadnít met all these guys since August, it was like a rare reunion, that too on top of a mountain. This is the real significance of major offroading meets, you get to meet old friends from everywhere in one place. This is the first time I have met offroading friends from Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kerala all at one place.

Once the second group had arrived, the first group was leaving almost immediately. Although we wanted to stick around and talk to friends from the second group, we knew it can be done later at the end of trail. Our main focus was to finish the trail successfully before the celebration and partying that will come at the end of this epic adventure. Besides, we were there on the hill top for nearly two hours. So we quickly say bye and leave with our original group.

An hour later we are on the ridge of a mountain and we could see mountains on both sides. I got onto the Jeep Bonnet for these shots.

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The right side view

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The left side view.

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The front view was not clear from my Jeep due to some shrubs, so climbed Sureshís Jeep bonnet for better view. Never ask for such for favors from car fans. Anyway, I was told that the faint hill in the distance was Kodai-kanal. It was exciting to see Tamilnadu from here.

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I look down and I see that one of our marshals has installed an air intake on himself. I don't recall his name, somebody remind me please.

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And he is not alone, the modding fever was spreading like wildfire, even K&N air filters didnít sell this fast. And whatís more, it is completely natural, made of nilgiri or eucalyptus leafs.

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At first we waited here for the second group to arrive, but then decided to go ahead hoping to catch up at the next sticky place. And we came across the next sticky place soon enough.

Notice this stream crossing, often photos flatten the terrain, but the depth and height can be judged if you notice carefully. You can make out that the Jeep is way below us, in fact the top of the Jeep is few feet below my ground level.

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The further Jeep is the same level as me. And the climb to that place is rather abrupt, although flattened by the camera view. The drop into the stream is also very abrupt, it is more challenging while coming back. Some Jeeps were having problem, but with some struggle, they could pass.

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By this time my wife had wrested the Titanic position from Louis and he was sitting in the front passenger seat rather unhappily. We were all bracing ourselves for the sudden plunge and then abrupt climb up the incline. The CJ340 got across so easily, we may have been watching the whole effort on television. Thatís how little effort we experienced.

After crossing the stream, a little later we ran into a traffic jam and stopped.

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From here we could see the line behind us waiting to cross the water stream.

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After waiting a long time there, Arka walks by saying there is a big ditch where everybody is getting stuck. So, I figure it is time for investigating the matter first hand.

This simple looking trail was holding up the Jeeps.

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And Gypsies too, it was way treacherous than can be seen in photos or even in person.

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I saw that every vehicle needed help.

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Meanwhile my wife notices this snake on the rock, I eventually determine it has been killed.

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Meanwhile I am spending my time closely noticing how and why Jeeps/Gypsies are getting stuck here. After analyzing 2-3 crossings, I determine that SWB Jeeps should be able to avoid getting stuck here.
With that happy thought, I get my Jeep through the initial part carefully and park behind Suresh Stephan.

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Oops, we have a problem. Suresh Stephan has a CJ340 like me, and it gets stuck royally. His wheel had slipped on a rock and his chassis is now sitting on a rock. After determining the problem, he pulls out the hi-lift jack and lifts the Jeep in no time. Then the villagers put some rocks under his tyres and the Jeep is lowered back again.

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Once he got unstuck, he continues on the treacherous trail carefully. And it doesnít go smooth.



Meanwhile I am getting really worried. If Suresh, a Jeep Moderator and highly skilled offroader had trouble in CJ340 while crossing this trail, as a rookie I will be in lot deeper trouble. So I watched like a hawk, watched every point where he had trouble, and instantly catalogued in my mind. Once he crossed over, I quickly re-traced the path with my eyes, finding alternate crossing points for each, no that there was much room to maneuver, but even a little turn here and there helps. That is why I was not shooting any photographs, last few photos/videos are shot by my wife.

And finally it was my turn and I took off with a blank mind except for the route I had traced in my mind.



And I am through, much faster than expected. Hurray!!!

Right away I went to Suresh and thanked him for spotting all the trouble areas for me. If I had taken off without seeing his effort, I would have gotten stuck multiple times.

At time point I was told we were only 4Kms from the tar road and the leaders had already gone ahead, I had only Suresh in front of me. So I kept following down the extremely rocky path that needed to be negotiated carefully. There were many forks where Suresh and his Jeep mates used to examine carefully and place branches to symbolically block the wrong path. At one such path, I pulled up next to his Jeep to avoid parking on the slope. As I started again, I felt right front wheel sinking lightly on the bushes. I stopped instantly and upon closer look realised that I was standing in front of a 6 feet deep ditch. You canít be too careful in these places, you have to always see where you are going. I quickly turned away from the ditch shuddering at the lapse.

An hour later, around 5PM we finally ride out onto to the tar road. Oops, time to disengage 4WD, back to 2WD. Yeah, that concludes the Jeep Thrills offroading trail, the toughest and the most beautiful trail I ever had the fortune to drive on.

So we get down and go to meet the others. Meanwhile the local villagers are giving all of us Jeepers strange looks. My wife overhears somebody saying ďThivrawadi madhi vandangaÖĒ, which she translates to ďthey came down like naxalitesĒ. Oh boy, thatís an interesting entrance we made.

There is some confusion happening there. While waiting for rest of the gang to come down, I try to get some details from Jayesh (Jack33) about how to go back to the resort.

Me: Ok, how do we go back to Ayur County.

Jayesh: You mean Munnar, you canít go to Munnar, you can stay in Kodai today.

Me: What?

Jayesh: You are in Tamilnadu now, closer to Kodai.

Me: What?

Jayesh: You came over the mountain taking the Munnar-Kodai route. By road Munnar is 200+ kms away.

Me: What???

My wife is freaking out now, our 2 year old is in Munnar with my parents. We had plans to leave Munnar in the morning and have to drive nearly 700kms in the Jeep in one stretch to reach home. And here we are, exactly 230Kms from the resort.

Me: Jayesh, there is no way we can stay in Kodai, we have to go back to Munnar today. My parents canít handle the baby in the night, he will throw tantrums at night in our absence.

Jayesh: Oh, in that case you can go back in the same trail. We are all planning to go back in the night.

Me: What! Back in that trail in the night??? That trail... in the night?

To be continued...

Last edited by Samurai : 1st February 2009 at 19:28. Reason: too many typos
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Old 1st February 2009, 21:04   #43
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@Samurai- Excellent write up. Last sunday we where travelling back to munnar from kodai. complete the full story I will start posting photos.
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Old 2nd February 2009, 00:36   #44
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Thatís like jumping from frying pan into the fire. I am not a highly skilled offroader, I just completed my toughest terrain today and I have never done offroading at night. The thought of offroading at night in the toughest terrain Iíve seen, is not something I was ready to take up lightly. Somehow, we had no idea that todayís trail was supposed to end up in Tamilnadu, and 230Kms road distance away from Ayur county. Even Shakir (Sha) who had participated in the Dec Munnar event didnít expect it. They had returned from the hill top lunch point since they reached it at 6PM.

Me: The trail backÖ.. hmm, how long will it take?

Jayesh: About 4 hours if nobody got stuck.

Me: How long is the road journey?

Jayesh: About 5 hours.

After some quick discussions between us (Suresh, Shakir, Sandeep Bhat, Emanuel, etc), all the non-local Jeepers decided that none of us are going back on the off-road trail. Yeah, we offroaders are all crazy, but to attempt night offroading without any warm clothes and with long driving plans next day is not worth the risk. The sun was already sinking and we could feel the chill in the air. By now we knew that the temperature will drop like a stone once sun sets. And we had many members with just a T-shirt, like Louis. He was in panic too, his Swift was in Munnar town in some street, and he has to get back to Cochin same day to attend a family function next day. He was about 350kms away from where he was expected to be that night.

Srini and his wife decided to return to Bangalore via Kodai right away, they had already checked out from Munnar. Rest of us decided to drive to Kodai and then to Munnar same day. With that determination, we started waiting for Shahnawaz, Jammy and rest of the gang to join us. Meanwhile, many local Jeepers provide us with directions to find our way back to Munnar.

After about 15-20 minutes, nobody else has come down. Meanwhile Louis is thinking of taking a bus/taxi from Kodai since he canít imagine travelling an open Jeep all the way back. And he needs to get back fast. So I tell Shakir that weíll regroup in Kodai and mine and Sandeepís Jeep leave for Kodai. Meanwhile Rajiv is without a Jeep, Vinay took his Classic from lunch point back to give lunch to Mahindra Service team. We never heard from Vinay or even Shahnawaz who was originally part of first group since lunch. So Rajiv hops on to Sandeepís Jeep. Many Jeeps are going to Kodai, many Jeeps pass us fast on the way, the offroading Jeeps from Munnar can be easily recognized since none of them have removed all the Mahindra stickers from the previous day. Initially roads are not good, and it gets better later.
As darkness falls, so does the temperature. Driving/riding the open Jeep to Kodai in a winter night is no joke. At least my wife and I had a shell jacket and Louis back there had no jacket. My fingers were freezing and I was having difficulty gripping the steering wheel. I was promising myself that the first thing I look for in Kodaikanal is a pair of gloves.

We eventually make it to Kodaikanal after 45kms of drive. And we get Airtel signal after a long while. Louis has numerous missed calls from his wife, so he calls and assures her that he is well and has not become some statistics or headline of any local cable channel.

As we see a bunch of roadside shops selling warm clothes, we stop and my wife starts shopping, it helps she is fluent in Tamil unlike me. Louis meanwhile jumps off and goes looking for a bus or taxi to Munnar. After looking around for a while, I park in a big empty parking lot next to the main road. As I park, I find Suresh Stephan taking the next place. I again rush off towards the roadside to finish the warm clothes shopping, but they neither have gloves or monkey caps, which was disappointing.

Meanwhile I see some more Jeeps/Gypsies coming towards us and I direct them all to the parking area. But some guy in the parking lot was asking all of us to leave for some reason we couldnít understand. Instead, more and more Jeepers were coming in and parking. There was no news of Shahnawaz or others, nobody new has joined us, and we have strong suspicion that they must have all returned the same way much earlier instead of getting trapped in Tamilnadu.

Then I go across the road to Meenakshi Bhavan restaurant to look for rest room for the wife. While there I also find a huge parking lot. That would be a great rendezvous point. So I run out all the way to the earlier parking lot to ensure all the guys come to new parking lot. Then Sandeep Bhat calls up and I tell him to come to the same place. Soon we all enter the restaurant and have some heavy dinner. Soon Sandeep Bhat comes heavily decked up with gloves and monkey caps. Since I too need it, I go with him to pick up the same items for myself and wife. So I buy two pairs of everything we need to survive the late night in the open topless Jeep. Some like Suresh and Vijaykumar have decided to stay back in Kodaikanal since they had all vacated the rooms back in Munnar.

Shakir and rest of us make our plans. We decide to form a strict 4 vehicle convoy maintaining same order all the way. Each should keep the front and back in view, slow down if somebody falls behind and drive in the speed of the slowest member, etc. And Shakir will be in the front since he is most familiar with the roads, and also has the most powerful set of headlights that can light up a cricket stadium. Then we suit up, gloves, monkey caps, jackets and some even applied cold cream to all exposed skin. It was like we were almost on a mission. I could hear one of that Armageddon sound track in my mind.

Just before 9PM, we all started out of Meenakshi Bhavan in the decided order. All the guys staying back wished us good luck and good bye. As we got on to the road, to our surprise we found a whole bunch Kerala Jeepers hanging around right outside Meenakshi Bhavan, we waved as we moved along. I guess this was the group with Jayesh that went back to the trail sweeping for stragglers.

We maintained a very tight formation all the way. The Tamilnadu highways are of very high standards, we hardly ran into any speed bumps or pothole in the highway stretch. That is simply unthinkable in Karnataka. We filled up diesel in Theni just to be sure. In less than 4 hours we were back in Kerala and were racing towards Munnar. The weather had become pretty warm after getting down from Kodai, and it started to get cold again as we as started climbing towards Munnar.

Suddenly I notice a loss in engine power, my eyes quickly scan the gauges and my heart sank at the sight of zero oil pressure. Without a second thought I pulled over to the side. Shakir was way ahead of me and didnít realise I had stopped. The Jeep and the Gypsy behind me stopped and came around to check out. We were in the middle of a forest in the ghat section, and the time was around 1AM. After opening the hood, other Jeepers are able to determine that the oil pipe connecting the oil filter to the oil pressure gauge is cut. Emanuelís dad who turned out to be very handy with the mechanicals, quickly tightened the oil pipe and connected it back as a quick fix. But I had lost all the oil in the engine, although I had stopped very quickly after seeing the problem. I had no spare engine oil, although I had diff oil, brake fluid and coolant. Then Emanuel produces 1.5 liters of Gyspy engine oil. At this point I am ready to accept coconut oil if it works. Sandeep bhat meanwhile is proposing to tow my Jeep. But everybody wants to try the gypsy oil first. We pour the oil and start the engine, the oil pressure is back at 2, I give some pedal and it rises to 4. Houston, we have a live one here. We are good to go, if we drive slowly back the resort.

Right here, this shows the importance of riding in a convoy. I was not technical enough to understand this problem, let alone quick fix it, if I was alone. I had the torch and tool box, Emanuel had the engine oil, his dad and others had the expertise to utilize all those to do the quick fix. An extremely serious problem that could have stranded me in the middle of the night was resolved in a jiffy due to team work. Slowly we started off and couple of KMs later we find Shakirís Gypsy stranded on the road side. His electrical cable had a burn out and headlights wouldnít work, they were in darkness except for the powerful floodlights. They had almost repaired the problem by the time we got there. Once his lights start working, we start off again and finally reach Ayur County at 1:20AM and say our good bye to Rajiv, Emanuel and his dad who stay in another resort.

By now we have received news that Shahnawaz and rest of the gang have returned the same way and reached back. So we had nothing more to worry about. It is a pity that we couldnít spend more time with Jammy and gang, we didnít realise it was going to be such a short meeting. Next day morning we have to leave immediately for our long drive back home. We both are covered with thick layer of dirt and grime. Then we are in for a fresh shock, there was no hot water in the bathroom, the water heater was out of gas and it canít be rectified until morning. We somehow manage to take bath in ice cold water and crash to the bed at 2AM.

To Be Continued.
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Old 2nd February 2009, 08:34   #45
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One word Sharat - AWESOME.

Thats the experience you guys had !
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