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Old 18th June 2007, 14:22   #1
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Default Hilarious account of a trip to Kufri

The month was early November and the year was 99. My wife and I were on our way to Kufri in a nicely broken in Daewoo Cielo Nexia (5000 km). Our first long distance travel on our own, in a car. I won't tell you how I managed this vehicle but it wasn't mine. Someone gave it to me in Delhi and his driver dropped us off near the exit of Delhi at around 2 pm and told us: follow this road straight and you will reach Chandigarh. I was supposed to return the car without any major dent after the trip.
So off we went. Those days I didn't have a mobile. And I don't think roaming etc was available also. I was used to a rickety old Maruti 800 and that too in the lanes and bylanes of Calcutta. So this four-laned highway and a new Cielo was a new experience to me. The speedo never dipped below 100 and frequently touched 130. Finally when Chandigarh was about 50 km or so and the sun was about to set we stopped for some tea near a roadside dhaba - our first stop. The guy told me to push the car a bit behind so that his shop's front wasn't blocked.

Sure thing. I must oblige the fellow. I got into the car and looked at the gear knob for the first time. Ooops. The reverse gear is not quite where it is supposed to be. In fact it is to the left of first gear and the line marking it from the neutral point is slightly curved.
So I pushed the stick in that direction - even with a swoop to trace that slightly circular path. Nothing doing the car moves forward - meaning it was in first gear. I tried some ten times. Profusely sweating. Nervous. Even if I oblige the dhabawala for now by going forward, what am I supposed to do if I get stuck somewhere where I need to back out?
Monisha assured. Don't worry we will push the car back.
So the last leg was driven very carefully. The road was just a two-laned highway and whenever I spotted a stationary truck I was overtaking it with lots of space left in the front. No way do I want to get stuck in a place where backing out might be the only option.
Somehow we managed to reach this hotel in Chandigarh (where we were booked in advance) without any need to back out. But I don't want to get in. No way can you park a car in a hotel without knowing how to engage the reverse gear. So a brilliant idea flashed through my mind. Leaving Monisha in the backseat of the car and after parking it outside the hotel I went in to check if my booking was confirmed. The car was facing a wall and whoever drives it has to reverse it first. They said yes sir, you are booked. Where is your car? I said it's parked outside could you please get your driver to bring it in? I am too tired to go now. The valet appeared. Took the keys from me. I followed him silently at a distance, just when he was about to enter the car I came from behind - "wait wait I have something in the car that I need." I sat on the front passenger seat. He started the car and reversed it immediately. I watched the process intently but couldn't understand what exactly he did. So now I asked him casually - show me how you did that? He showed - simple. You hold the knob between your fingers palm facing up, push the knob in a bit with your thumb and pull the other half up a bit and it is reverse. Hoooooray. Now I know it.
Next morning we started off for Kufri. Confident that now I know how to reverse a Cielo. One of the front page news was yesterday Shimla had its first snowfall. I had planned already to bypass Shimla and a friend had told me to turn right after Solan and reach Kufri via Chail. This way you don't have to go via Shimla.
It is a lovely picturesque road. Almost like a private road. Virtually no vehicles. A bit narrow but lovely. When we stopped for lunch in a small restaurant we overheard them discussing that the road ahead of Chail is closed due to heavy snow. Our faces paled. First reaction was let's go back to Shimla. But then we reasoned that if we find the road is indeed blocked then we can always turn back from there. Cross the bridge when you come to it.
We had enough time in our hand. We kept going on and on. Finally after Chail we started seeing snow. Initially only near the bends and that too on the side of the road and in the shady parts. Finally we realised we were actually driving on hard snow. At least two feet deep. There were deep tracks for the wheels like in village dirt roads. For about five km I drove on that scary road but along the track made by drivers before me. On second gear. My brain said I should not go for hard braking. But since there wasn't a single sole on the road there was no question of using any brake and I was driivng probably at 10 kmph.
Finally we reached Kufri. It was white all around. Although Shimla got its first snow yesterday, this region had seen the first snow much before that. Anyway, there was no problem with locating Kufri Resort. It was bang on the road. On your right hand side. And I stopped near their gate. The gate was wide open but a steep road inside - covered in god knows how many feet deep snow - was staring at us. You have to climb straight up - a very short distance of perhaps 50 feet and then turn sharp right for another fifty feet or so.
Those who have seen this place without snow may not be able to understand how dangerous it was looking especially to a first timer. I was really scared. I was wondering what happens if the car can't negotiate that bend and starts sliding backwards?
I spent some ten minutes there. Completely stationary and pondering over various things in life. Finished two cigarettes. Talked to my ego. Explaining it "beta - walk this short distance up and let the resort driver take care of the car". But Mr Ego told me very firmly, "look at those tracks on the snow. Umpteen number of people have driven on this snow before you. You still want to walk? What a ridiculously coward guy you are."
Finally Mr Ego won. I drove up. First gear. And the car and the tyres obliged pretty fine. I mean nothing dramatic happened and heaved that proverbial sigh of relief.
I parked the car in the portico and never even looked at it for the next four days.
While coming back, the resort manager offered to help me with a driver. But Mr Ego politely refused the offer. I came back without any worry or any drama.
Another old lesson learnt first had - it is good to be cautious and even be fearful. But only for the first time.
Sudipto
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Old 18th June 2007, 14:37   #2
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Good going Sudipto Da. Even ive never driven on hard snow or rather Ice. I know it can be very dangerous and unnerving but you made it, thanks to Mr. ego huh? Also now you'll be more confident driving in such conditions. So where to next time, Iceland? Ki Bolo?
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Old 18th June 2007, 14:48   #3
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Hilarious bro, all of us have been in similar situations, not necessarily in cars but in other walks of life. Good read.
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Old 18th June 2007, 14:59   #4
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reversing a car i to faced a problem when i first drove a octavia now i know how to reverse it
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Old 18th June 2007, 15:06   #5
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Quote:
Ooops. The reverse gear is not quite where it is supposed to be. In fact it is to the left of first gear and the line marking it from the neutral point is slightly curved.
So I pushed the stick in that direction - even with a swoop to trace that slightly circular path. Nothing doing the car moves forward - meaning it was in first gear. I tried some ten times. Profusely sweating. Nervous.
I can imagine your plight.
I am sure you must have felt like Archimedes when you figured out how to engage the reverse gear.
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Old 18th June 2007, 15:06   #6
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WOW. some experience there!
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Old 18th June 2007, 15:09   #7
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I remember when I first drove an Astra in UK. I was planning a 3 point turn and suddenly in a middle of the road I was stranded trying to reverse the car. Traffic was pilling up on both sides of the street. Fortunately I managed to figure out the button that allows you to put the car into reverse which is beyond gear 1.

Last edited by DieselFan : 18th June 2007 at 15:12.
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Old 18th June 2007, 15:18   #8
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Cielo reminds me, i took my friends car(Cielo) for the driving test. did find the reverse gear pretty confusuing but made sure i was comfy with it before i go for the test. luckily dint do any goof ups when i was asked to reverse by the inspector
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Old 18th June 2007, 15:52   #9
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Ohh my God!! This is the first time after reading your post I realized that some car's do have a typical reverse....I thought all the cars from Alto to BMW have a similar manual set of gears...

Nice experience Sudipto da...

BTW, How to reverse the OCtavia? how is the reverse different to that of Alto? (Sorry for ignorance, never sat in an Octavia so far !!)
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Old 18th June 2007, 16:00   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akroy View Post
Ohh my God!! This is the first time after reading your post I realized that some car's do have a typical reverse....I thought all the cars from Alto to BMW have a similar manual set of gears...

Nice experience Sudipto da...

BTW, How to reverse the OCtavia? how is the reverse different to that of Alto? (Sorry for ignorance, never sat in an Octavia so far !!)
Its simple you with your hand pick up a small knob(i call it that its with the gear shift cover below the gear knob you just pick it) and then slot the gear it vola the car goes reverse

maybe someone can explain it more clearly
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Old 18th June 2007, 16:12   #11
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Haa haaa haaaa... that was one heck of a story sudipto da. somehow reading it on the screen makes it all the more howlarious.

Abhi... its like a ring. over which sits the gear lever cover. when you want to engage the reverse you lift this ring with the webbing of your fingers and then engage the reverse. otherwise the lever won't fall into reverse. its kind of a safety device. even the verna has the same kind of reverse, and the Palio as well. indica on the other hand has a funda where in the reverse never engages when the car is moving. similarly the gear never moves from 5th to reverse. every car has its own way to prevent accidental reverse engagement.

Last edited by Zappo : 18th June 2007 at 16:16.
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Old 18th June 2007, 18:13   #12
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V-16
I am torn between Sangla and Bangalore in October/November. Can't make up my mind. But unless something really hilarious or unusual happens on the way you won't find any post from me about the trip. Given that both these will be along GQ I wonder if anything interesting will happen which will be worth writing down.
I have one other interesting story to share about our trip to the Dolma Elephant Sanctuary near Jamshedpur, which I will do after a few days.
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Old 18th June 2007, 21:31   #13
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That was a pretty cute anecdote
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Old 18th June 2007, 22:31   #14
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It was good fun reading it. It indeed is difficult driving in snow.

I took the car rental at Denver 3 months back and it was my first stint driving in snow. I landed there at 9 pm and went straight to the rental agency, even when I saw that it was snowing. I had to travel 30 miles to my hotel. GPS helped me very much, but the problem was that it was snowing so much that I could not even see the road properly. GPS asked me to take a particular exit. I came near the so called exit and just looked there. But where was the exit? I could not even see any road there. I faintly saw the green board and assumed that that was the exit I had to take. But where is the road? Again, an assumption based on the geometry of exits in general came in handy. But the Ford Focus was a boat. I had no idea where I was going until I came to a point which looked like a parking lot. I finally was able to figure out where my hotel was. It was an hour of snow and darkness for the first time in my life. I really enjoyed that drive.

On a hilarious note, I read that some thieves in Delhi had stolen someone's Palio and were being pursued by the police. Upon intimation by the chasing police, another police vehicle came right in front of the Palio. Thieves had to reverse the vehicle, but could not figure out how on the earth they could do it. They were finally caught when they tried to run away after abandoning their stolen car.
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Old 18th June 2007, 23:02   #15
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i got to commend you on trying that steep slope without quitting, that is what real courage is & not in over speeding & bettering some time records.
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