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Old 17th June 2007, 03:37   #1
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Hi folks,

At the outset, let me state that my username doesn't really mean much. I'm not a big fan of the Edsel, though I'm interested in its history. For that matter, I'm interested in all things concerning automobiles. I work as a writer/editor in Bombay, and mostly cover business and technology. I hope to drop by sometime if you have regular meetups in this city. I live in Andheri (West).

I have been a lurker here for some weeks, but that's partly because I don't have a four-wheeler driving licence yet. I hope to get one soon though. I currently own two Enfield Bullets (a 1989 Std 350cc and a 2002 Std 500cc), and someday I hope to complete my "fleet" with a second-hand Gypsy (preferably white, late-1990s, soft-top.) Or even a Mahindra CJ would be nice...

However, practicality has led me to consider buying an old Maruti 800 as a first car on which to cut my driving teeth (so to speak). Advancing age has brought with it nagging ailments such as a bad back and mildly arthritic knees, so I don't bike as often as I used to. Solo trips that I did on my Enfield a decade ago such as Delhi to Bombay and Bombay to Goa are but a distant memory now. :(

Yes, I know it makes far more sense to buy an Alto or Wagon R, but I really need to find out if I can handle driving in a city like Bombay. So I'm looking at a sub-75K M800. I'm not too confident because I've had less than ten hours of practice at the wheel so far and I still manage to stall my friend's Wagon R at stoplights. *embarrassed* Another reason to look at a used car is that I don't have covered parking, and will therefore have to leave the car under a tree at the mercy of the birds.

Once (and if) I get the hang of things, I intend to retire the 800 and go in for a better car. My budget then would be in the region of 4-5 lakh, so I'm not exactly considering a Landcruiser. But that Gypsy would be nice... especially since I also harbour dreams of eventually investing in a little cottage a couple of hours from Bombay, with a telescope, a shelf full of books, some bottles of wine, and an internet connection for company. All right, I'll be magnanimous and allow the wife to visit on weekends.

Thank you for reading this far. I've been checking out the BHP forums and it's been a voyage of discovery. I hope to contribute something constructive to the discussions here, even if my knowledge of cars is limited.

Cheers,
Hari
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Old 17th June 2007, 12:03   #2
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Welcome to Team BHP, @Edsel. Are you a freelancer or are you working with a publication?

Don't lose heart with the driving bit - you are trying too hard perhaps. Just relax and make the car do your thing. You must have put in a zillion miles on the Bullets, but wouldn't have ever had to think about controlling the vehicle. It's that feel you need to get in the car.

Try this sometime: Go to a field or anywhere where there are no other vehicles to disturb you. Try driving just with the clutch - yes, try to move and control the car *without* putting foot to the gas pedal (and DON'T worry about stalling). You should be able to get the feel in the left foot what you had in the left hand on the Bullet. Once you are able to do it at will, you will never think about it (and will never stall at the lights). If there is a slope, even better, 'cos you will get the funda of half-clutching (holding the car steady only with the clutch).

Cheers!
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Old 17th June 2007, 12:32   #3
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Welcome Hari that was a fantastic read! I really enjoyed reading your experiences & future plans, will you be magnanimous enough to also invite a few bhpians to your cottage? I'm sure many Mumbai members would be very willing!

Have fun on the forum & looking forward to seeing you around here.
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Old 18th June 2007, 21:54   #4
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Iraghava, the cottage plan isn't just wishful thinking; it's just waiting for an opportune moment. And of course, BHPians are invited, especially those who enjoy beer, conversation and a barbecue - not necessarily in that order.

DerAlte, I was with Economic Times for four years but am currently working freelance. And it's true I don't think twice about the clutch or gears while riding my Bullet because I've got used to it. However, while learning to ride my bike in the late 1980s in Cochin, the traffic was manageable. Things are different now in Bombay. I doubt if I can find a deserted field in congested Andheri to practise my clutching/declutching. :(

Which reminds me... how do I go about buying a sub-75K M800 in Bombay? I'm not bothered about the absence of ICE or the overall appearance (minor dents and scratches are okay) but the engine and suspension should pass muster. Especially since I'm six feet tall and weigh 105 kilos. As you may guess, my size will ensure that I don't hold on to the 800 for very long!
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Old 18th June 2007, 22:27   #5
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Hi Edsel
Welcome aboard. It's a good idea to learn driving in a cheap second hand car. I did exactly that. Got all the regulation dents and then went for the new car and got some more dents. Welcome to the world of dents. By the way I have a 1979 Bullet.
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Old 18th June 2007, 22:51   #6
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Interesting intro from a writer. Welcome to TBHP and do join the fun!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Edsel Rulez! View Post
Advancing age has brought with it nagging ailments such as a bad back and mildly arthritic knees, so I don't bike as often as I used to.
Welcome to the club, but...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Edsel Rulez! View Post
But that Gypsy would be nice...
This is not a good idea if you have a bad back.
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Old 18th June 2007, 23:39   #7
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Hi Sudipto, thanks for the greeting. What you said makes sense; I'm on the lookout for an old used car that will help minimise my losses in case things don't exactly go splendidly. I don't intend to keep it for longer than six months, or a year at most. My weekly usage will be 100 km or less, mostly in the city. The problem is finding a fairly reliable car that won't break down in the middle of my morning commute. I believe a 1997 M800 for around 60K would be just the thing... what do you think?

Steeroid, "bad back" was largely a euphemism for a numb posterior, which occurs during long rides say, nonstop six-hour dashes to Mahabaleshwar. This, along with stiff legs, are more to do with the inability to shift my position and reluctance to take hourly rest breaks, rather than a slipped disc or something serious. I've been a passenger on long trips in a short wheelbase Mahindra in the ghats of Kerala, and I didn't feel fatigued. Of course, there's a limit as to how much off-roading my back can take. Half a day's ramble in the western ghats is fine. The Raid de Himalaya is perhaps being a little overambitious.

Cheers,
Hari
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