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Old 13th October 2010, 19:42   #106
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For the first time in her time under my car BQ has reported an FE under 10 kmpl. This was computed on the reserve-to-reserve basis (low fuel warning light on -> tank filled to auto-cutoff -> low fuel warning light on).

The cycle lasted one week in which BQ was subjected to a higher than usual dose of extreme peak evening city traffic torture with more than one person in the car, so I'm still very happy with the figure (9.68 kmpl).

I'm also starting to love the effect of that tiny blue LED just above the rear-view mirror, in between the two map lights. This blue LED comes on whenever the parking lights are switched on. I noticed the effect only recently (around 3 weeks back) and now I can't miss it at night! I think this is one of the feature differences between the S and V. The product brochure mentioned something like "ambient blue lighting" and when we asked the salesperson he wasn't able to point out exactly what it is. He only had a very rough idea and could describe neither the source nor the effect properly.

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Old 13th October 2010, 19:52   #107
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I thought this feature is there in both S and V versions. In any case, it gives a very good ambience when you are driving in night, especially pitch dark conditions.
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Old 14th October 2010, 11:54   #108
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Its not there in my 2006 S-MT. I can't miss it I don't have it right?
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Old 14th October 2010, 12:13   #109
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Originally Posted by vasoo View Post
it gives a very good ambience when you are driving in night, especially pitch dark conditions.
It was exactly in such conditions that I noticed it - while driving back from the airport via the ORR one night. There was absolutely no light outside the car, and I had also dimmed the brightness of the console lights. The soft blue was just stunning in these conditions.

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Its not there in my 2006 S-MT. I can't miss it I don't have it right?
Hahaha, so true! When I said "I can't miss it" in my earlier post what I was referring to was that it's now very noticeable even when there's lots of light pollution from outside. Basically I now know what to look for whereas I didn't have a clue earlier.

It's definitely not a must-have feature, but is hugely convenient to have when you have to quickly search for something without having to switch on the bright map lights momentarily and then re-adjust your eyes to the darkness after you switch them off.

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Old 19th October 2010, 16:43   #110
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Default BQ's weekend out - I

This one has been on the cards for a while. We wanted to drive down to Bengaluru and back in BQ for a variety of reasons -
  1. Good exercise for BQ
  2. Eat some Corner House ice-cream (we'd been off that stuff for 1.5+ years)
  3. Meet some friends (last but not the least)

We were looking for a 3-day window for the trip and there was one sometime in August. It helped that a grand alum party for my alma mater was planned at that time in Bengaluru. However, Nature and GHMC had different ideas and on the morning of the day of the supposed trip we had knee-deep water outside our apartment building.

The bug lived on, though, and Dasara was as good an opportunity as any, considering the holiday on Friday. The week leading up to that trip couldn't have gone past sooner. Highway rides/drives aren't new to me/us, but definitely new to BQ and we could sense the excitement BQ would have! In particular, the NH7 between Hyderabad and Bengaluru was a known thing, with many good and a couple of bad experiences in the past 5 years. This is a (picture-less) travelogue from February 2009, my second last trip on this road before this one.

Onward (15 October 2010)
Here are the quick facts/summary -
"Start" time/odo/location: 7:45 am/~2791/Gachibowli-ORR junction
"End" time/odo/location: 2:45 pm/~3345/Hebbal interchange

Everything was packed, BQ was full (of fuel) and we were ready to go. Just then I discovered that my faithful DSLR of 5+ years had almost given up the ghost. Of course that was not going to be a show-stopper.

We rolled out at 7:30 am on Friday. It was a pleasant morning and BQ was raring to go, getting ready for the 1200+ km weekend. We hit the ORR at Gachibowli at 7:45 am and reached Shamshabad within no time. There was mild traffic in the city and moderate traffic leading out of the city. This was as expected, courtesy of the slightly late-ish hour (around 8:00 am) and the long weekend. It was just a matter of crossing Shadnagar and the traffic started thinning out.

The plan was that I would drive for 100 km, then my wife would take the controls for the next 200 km, then I would drive again for the final stretch. One of us would eat (breakfast/lunch) while the other was driving, so as to minimize stoppage time. This plan worked beautifully on both the onward and return journeys, by the way. Here's a picture of my two queens on the GMR Jadcherla Expressway at the first switchover point exactly 100 km from home.

The march of the Black Queen (my new Honda Civic 1.8V in Black)-p1050732_small.jpg
I should've pulled over a lot more to the left, perhaps. In later breaks I ensured that the left wheels were off the road (where possible i.e. the road wasn't barricaded) and BQ was completely to the left of the solid white line.

There was this silver Ford Fiesta which was "with us" all this while. At this point they moved ahead. It was enjoyable driving in tandem with the Fiesta. At times it would get ahead, and at times BQ would get ahead. The speeds weren't very high - it was just a matter of each driver doing what he felt most comfortable doing. But there was immense respect to each other all along the way in terms of signalling or giving way. Highway manners at their best. I totally enjoyed this phase.

During this break we also observed a white Cruze speed past. For a second I thought it was our own Avi bhai (mobike008) but the registration number was different.

We reached Kurnool before we knew it. In our last travel on this road (April last year) we saw that 4-laning between Kurnool and Hyderabad was almost done. Markings and barricades had to be put, and there were many diversions. Now it's 100% ready. Here's an example of how the road is.

The march of the Black Queen (my new Honda Civic 1.8V in Black)-p1050737_small.jpg

Around Kurnool we observed a lot of people on the wrong side of the road. This is one aspect that hasn't changed from last year, despite the completion of 4-laning.

We saw the white Cruze taking a break just after Kurnool. Because of the traffic we were moving at a sedate pace here, and we could see the Cruze materialize behind us after a very short while. He followed us for a long time as we were weaving between a bunch of slow-moving trucks. We let the impatient Cruze past when the road opened up. To our surprise, we saw him take an imaginary diversion a little ahead of us at one of those offset median breaks. For a moment we were caught unaware and thought we must follow the Cruze (target fixation?) before we realized and maintained course. That was a funny moment and had us in splits for a while!

I was interested in seeing what the state of the road beyond Kurnool would be. From last year I remember an undivided, rough 2-lane road all the way up to Gooty and a little beyond. Now I was surprised to see the inviting and smooth 4-laned highway continue even beyond Kurnool.

There was a small patch of road outside of Dhone where construction work was still going on. There were two extremely huge potholes here which we didn't notice until the very last minute. BQ's powerful brakes (and the fact that there was no one tailgating us) came to the rescue. On the inside we felt that BQ stopped without any fuss, but onlookers outside were looking at us curiously, with a knowing smile (lo ek aur ...). Or maybe they were expecting to see a spectacle leading to a damaged car and were disappointed at that not happening. We'll never know.

To be continued: I'm having trouble completing this in one stretch despite the fact that Hyderabad - Bengaluru is neither new nor exotic nor interesting by any stretch of the imagination. I will also focus more on the feel of the car itself in subsequent posts.

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spadix
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Old 19th October 2010, 21:16   #111
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Default BQ's (first) weekend out - II

Somewhere on the Kurnool bypass, BQ also passed the 3000 km mark.

The march of the Black Queen (my new Honda Civic 1.8V in Black)-p1050749_small.jpg

After that small surprise with the pothole at Dhone - which luckily didn't result in any damage - BQ continued on her merry way. Just before Dhone is a very hilly terrain. Back in the day there used to be some really sharp, rising and dipping curves in this area. While the undulations still exist now, straightening has meant that the curves are either non-existent or are very gentle now. Safe but not that much fun.

After looking at the road so far, what with the beautiful surface, perfect marking, adequate width, minimum number of diversions (compared to my experience last year which I recorded in that blog entry) I was very disappointed to find that the Gooty bypass was still not ready and we would have to negotiate the busy town with its narrow, crowded and (sometimes) unruly main street. There is a railway crossing a couple of kilometres before we enter the town and as usual it featured a couple of monster speed-breakers on either side. We would've gotten off the road and driven around it, except that there was a deep-ish ditch off the road! So we had no option but to climb BQ and watch her suffer yet another mild scrape to the under-body. Bypass construction work is going on, though, and will hopefully be done very soon.

Some things we observed so far regarding the highway and the traffic -
  1. Lots of people riding/driving in the opposite direction, as noted in the earlier post
  2. Despite the 4-laning, many smaller slow-moving vehicles - mainly Tata Aces, the odd tractor, minibus/mini-truck and almost all APSRTC buses - still tend to occupy the right lane and don't give way, leaving no option but to overtake from the left :(
  3. As always, truck drivers are very good with their signalling
  4. One must be very careful while overtaking motorcycles as they can't make out our honks, let alone the modern silent engines, because of wind noise (this highway is pretty windy at times)
We could comfortably cruise between 100 and 120 kmph when there was light traffic, dropping to around 80 kmph when there's moderate traffic and cruising at reasonable speeds on roads were empty. Most of the time we just stuck to between 100 and 120. The biggest reason is that we're still new to BQ and her manners, despite knowing her for 2800 kms before the trip. Besides, we weren't used to really high speeds as the only car we drove extensively before BQ was an old 800. Finally of course is the fact that our roads can throw up the nastiest of surprises just when we happen to be at our inattentive best.

What charmed us all along about BQ was the poise, smoothness and comfort under all situations (overtaking, cruising, under hard acceleration or braking). Never once did we feel tired or felt the need for a break other than the bio-break or a stop at a toll plaza. It was such a refreshing change from our experience with the old 800 (which served us as well as it could)!

Credit must go where it belongs and I doff my hat to the NHAI for the exemplary job they've done with NH7 at least. Other than the fact that access to the highway isn't as tightly-controlled as I would've liked it to, I'll go so far as to say that this stretch of NH7 compares very well with some of the highways I've experienced in foreign countries (a couple of Autobahns in Germany and the Mass Pike in the US). I felt the road surface was in fact much smoother than some of those roads abroad. This could be because the construction is still new but I'd like to give the NHAI and its private partners credit for now for a very good job done.

Another highlight was the performance of the air-conditioner. Before the trip we were considering getting sun films on the side windows and rear windscreen at least. Even stuff like 3M's RE35 was a bit expensive so I was holding off on it for as long as I could. For this trip, though, we felt sun film could be important because this highway has absolutely no shade and despite the time of year things could get pretty hot in this part of the country. Another consideration was safety. We felt that tinted windows would afford us some security on sparsely populated sections of the open road. I couldn't get the sun filming done for lack of time, and one hopes to not experience anything insecure (touch-wood) but the AC absolutely chilled us even at a setting of 26 degrees celsius (auto mode). Admittedly the ambient temperature rarely went above 30 degrees Celsius, but still, this was awesome performance from the AC. It remains to be seen how it performs in hotter weather in these conditions.

One negative was all of the bug-splat BQ was getting. There were simply too many dragonflies and while most of them would just fly over the bonnet, windshield and roof as BQ cleaved through the air, there were many unfortunate flies that bumped against the windscreen, front grille and bumper etc.

Another potential negative was the wind noise. Tyre noise wasn't much because of the smooth road surface, but wind noise could've been an issue. We tweaked the speed-sensitive volume control a bit and ensured that the OEM audio setup outperformed the wind noise while still not causing us a headache (perhaps the choice of music also played a part here).

I took the wheel again some time after we crossed Gooty, when we hit the 300 km mark in our journey. The four lane stretch resumed and I was left to listen to wife complaining about how I got to drive on the better parts of the highway and she had to negotiate the Gooty stretch and the wayward traffic at Kurnool .

The stretch through this point to Chikballapur was an absolute blur. By now we were getting more used to BQ's manners at higher speeds. The brakes were confidence-inspiring. From our earlier experience of this highway we knew that we had passed the densest portion of the highway. Now I started exploring much higher speeds occasionally while still keeping to a cruising speed (lightly populated/empty roads). Again, these were very short bursts and not sustained stretches of really high-speed driving. I don't think I'll ever get comfortable doing the latter on any public road, however lightly populated.

The stretch between Anantapur and Penukonda in particular is breathtaking in its smoothness and the relief in landscape it offers compared to the flat stretches before Gooty. We were not in a mood to step out and enjoy the scenery and take pictures of it because our goal was to spend as much time as possible with friends in Bengaluru. Maybe next time...

It was on this stretch that I was overtaken by an Audi Q7 (we were already at around 130 kmph) which then stopped a little ahead. We passed the Q7 and didn't see any more of it. The more astounding thing was the Xylo behind the Q7 which totally disappeared from our sights after a while. I'm sure the driver was maintaining these speeds even on curved (gentle, albeit) stretches of the road!

I had complained about some disconcerting steering wheel vibration and beyond earlier in this thread. That was on the ORR in Hyderabad, not the most renowned for a smooth road surface. Moreover air pressure was not uniform in all the tyres at the time. After being on the NH7 I don't think this is an issue anymore. There was very slight vibration, if at all, on only certain stretches of road. I'll chalk these vibrations down to road surface more than anything else.

The rest of the drive was pretty event-less and we hit Hebbal by around 2:45 pm as noted above. We slowed down a bit after crossing Chikballapur and considerably after crossing Devanahalli. Not only was the traffic moderately heavy as expected, but I've also heard that Bengaluru traffic police strictly monitors speeds on the 80 kmph-limited expressway connecting the BIAL with the city.

I forgot mentioning this in the summary bit in the last post, but we eventually ended up taking 8 breaks - 4x toll plaza, 1x fuel and 3x bio. Total stoppage time must not have been more than 20 minutes. Of course acceleration/decelaration hasn't been accounted for.

Once the Gooty bypass is done, the travel time will easily get cut by 20-30 minutes at least. Somehow get rid of the constant fear of coming face-to-face with oncoming traffic in the wrong direction and the sudden appearance of villagers and animals near the breaks in the median, and you're looking at saving an additional 20 minutes at least. I genuinely believe that Hyderabad to Bengaluru can be done by the average driver in well under six hours. The road is that good!

The third (and last - after bug-splat and wind noise) negative was the low-ish fuel efficiency. I was really expecting to see around 16 kmpl but a quick calculation revealed a figure of around 13.5 kmpl. Of course, the car is still very new, perhaps the wind was strong enough to reduce FE a bit, and maybe we were too inconsistent with our speeds. It was a surprise nevertheless, especially considering this is an MT. In-city FE figures of between 9.6 and 10.4 kmpl mean that there's fundamentally nothing wrong with the engine, so we'll just wait for the 2nd free service (due at the end of this month) to get done until we reserve further judgement.

In subsequent posts I'll cover the return journey. Most of the points have been covered already anyway, but I'll talk about cruise control and driving in the rain, and post a couple more pictures and some videos.

Regards,
spadix

Last edited by mobike008 : 20th October 2010 at 17:50. Reason: Please DO NOT discuss high speed driving. Thanks !
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Old 19th October 2010, 22:47   #112
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Hey Spadix, great detail and narration, sounds like BQ got her wings stretched finally, may be i missed that you may have already addressed or yet too, what kind of FE have you been getting.

Best

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Old 20th October 2010, 13:33   #113
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Originally Posted by Motoringlover View Post
Hey Spadix, great detail and narration, sounds like BQ got her wings stretched finally, may be i missed that you may have already addressed or yet too, what kind of FE have you been getting.
Thanks, Motoringlover! There's more to come which I'll finish before the weekend.

I haven't calculated an exact figure using either the tankful-to-tankful method or reserve light active-to-reserve light active method for a couple of reasons, but the indication seems to be around 13.5 kmpl on the highway (AC on 100% of the time, idling during the short 2-3 min breaks with AC on, and a mix of city driving at the ends of the trip and of course in Gooty itself). That seems a little low to me but it'll perhaps get better as BQ gets closer to the 10k km mark and we also become more "efficient" with our use of the throttle.

This is all on regular unleaded petrol without any additives. No strict monitoring of tyre pressure but I fill up to 32 psi once a fortnight, roughly.

Regards,
spadix
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Old 20th October 2010, 16:24   #114
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Prashant, thats a wonderful narration of your trip to Bangalore in your BQ. I can almost feel the itch for a long drive in your last few posts to take the BQ out for a long one and give it a good once over

Nice to know you enjoyed the drive and the time that you took to reach Bangalore seem almost unreal. I am sure most of it is attributed to the butter smooth road and your driving skills.

Thank god, that was not me in the White Cruze. I wouldnt have been able to concentrate on my driving with a black civic bearing down on me in my ORVM

Look forward to rest of the narration soon!
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Old 21st October 2010, 21:41   #115
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Default BQ's (first) weekend out - III

Quote:
Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
Prashant, thats a wonderful narration of your trip to Bangalore in your BQ. I can almost feel the itch for a long drive in your last few posts to take the BQ out for a long one and give it a good once over
Thanks, Avi! We should head out together - you in WA and us in BQ - once and enjoy these super-smooth highways on our cars. I've got a bunch of trips lined up in the coming 3-4 months, starting with a trip to Basara on the 30th of this month. Want to join in?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
Nice to know you enjoyed the drive and the time that you took to reach Bangalore seem almost unreal. I am sure most of it is attributed to the butter smooth road and your driving skills.
Thanks for the compliment, but it's only the former. I humbly submit that my driving skills are non-existent (as you'll find out when we get to drive together!). The road is really that good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
Thank god, that was not me in the White Cruze. I wouldnt have been able to concentrate on my driving with a black civic bearing down on me in my ORVM
Hahaha! BQ wasn't in the ORVMs of that white Cruze for too long. Not by choice or even by design, though. When it did happen, I think it disappeared into a small black dot pretty soon, so I think you'll have no cause for concern .

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Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
Look forward to rest of the narration soon!
And here it comes.

Return (17 October 2010)
Summary -
"Start" time/odo/location - ~8:30 am/~3425 km/End of Hebbal interchange
"End" time/odo/location - ~3:15 pm/~3980 km/ORR exit at Gachibowli
Total # of breaks - 9 (4x toll, 1x fuel, 3x bio/switchover, 1x for tender coconut water in Gooty town); total break time may have been around 30 mins

I've covered most aspects of the road already anyway. The condition of the road upon return is simply the condition of the road in the onward leg, in reverse. That's it. So I have nothing more to add in the form of words about the road itself. I've got a few pictures, though -

The march of the Black Queen (my new Honda Civic 1.8V in Black)-p1050781_small.jpg
This is a beautiful temple enroute. I don't know the details nor did we visit it, but this is approximately an hour to 75 minutes before Dhone. I don't remember if we already crossed Gooty at this point.

The march of the Black Queen (my new Honda Civic 1.8V in Black)-p1050794_small.jpg
Nothing special, and the artsy affect was not planned . The gap between this picture and the last was exactly 77 minutes. There are very clear markings such as this at regular intervals. Big !

The march of the Black Queen (my new Honda Civic 1.8V in Black)-p1050798_small.jpg
As well as electronic message boards such as this. In addition to the usual driving tips and safety messages (such as the one in the picture) they also display important information like emergency contact numbers which one may call in case there's an accident or some other unforeseen incident. Very useful stuff!

The march of the Black Queen (my new Honda Civic 1.8V in Black)-p1050799_small.jpg
A trip in India is absolutely incomplete without sights like this! In Kerala we actually saw an elephant being transported slowly by a small lorry down the ghat roads from Thekkady to Cochin.

I've written already about the relaxed cruising ability, the tremendous brakes, AC, stock ICE and also touched upon the mileage. I'll just talk about the steering and cruise control and throw in the odd video or two.

There is this beautiful build-up of weight required to turn the steering wheel as speeds increase. This is really good, and something I cannot say of the only other power-steered car I've driven (Indigo). However, at around dead-on straight I found a lot more play than I would've liked. It's simply play. Twiddling the steering at dead-on straight doesn't do anything to the car's direction of movement. But the play is just a lot more than I find (or think) is normal. Once you go past the play region, however, steering is responsive but not too light (as already noted) and is very, very direct. You go exactly where you needed and don't have to "guess". I think the sensitivity of the steering system to inputs is just perfect and modulation required (of the driver's inputs) is very minimal - almost zero. It is great fun to drive this car!

While I tried the cruise control for a very brief while (around 10 seconds) on the HCU campus road which I hit in my daily commute, it was on this trip that I tried it out with earnest (and success). I read the manual as soon as we purchased the car, but I had forgotten everything and so I was trying things out as my wife read instructions out from the manual.

I never felt comfortable with the cruise control. Perhaps it was a bad stretch of road for me to try it (the busier sections as we approached Kurnool) and I should've tried it near Penukonda instead where the roads were really empty. I couldn't hold any speed constantly for too long. There would always be a need to brake because of someone travelling in the wrong direction or a break in the median near a village. Besides, I just feel more nervy when cruise control was on. It just felt very odd not to be in control of something.

Surprisingly an auto tranny never made me feel this way even the very first time I used it. That's probably because I grew up on a diet of TVS 50 XL and Kinetic Honda. But the cruise control was very different. I switched it off after a few trials of the various things the manual spoke about.

One surprising thing though was the very noticeable push I could feel even when I increased speed by 1 mph (I hit to the "Accel" switch) in cruise mode. I never thought I could feel a 1 mph/1.6 kmph increase in speed at say 80 clicks, but the way it's implemented on the Civic, that 1 mph increase happens "at once" instead of "gradually" and I was able to feel the "kick" even at higher base speeds. I don't know if this is the case in all cars that have this feature, though.

Finally, just a few quick words on driving in the rain. Because of the depression in the Bay of Bengal, there was moderate to heavy rain throughout the Kurnool - Hyderabad stretch. The rain started a little before we reached Kurnool, in fact.

BQ absolutely loved being driven in the rain. She never felt jittery/skiddy/unsure of herself even at decent speeds, and the wipers do a great job. Great road, new tyres and obviously a safe(r) car (compared to the 800, for instance) should explain this.

For once, the lack of a speed setting on the intermittent mode wasn't missed because of the quantum of rain. Interestingly, the rear windscreen was bone dry for a large part of the way, probably because of the angle of the rain and the motion of the car. Sitting in the co-driver's seat I was also able to appreciate the beauty of the opposed-blade design which I'm seeing now after so many years (uncle's old Fiat 1100 which we enjoyed through the '80s and early '90s, had that blade design).

We finally hit home just before 3:45 pm after some shopping enroute at Kesava Reddy Sweets in Kondapur, with the odo reading 3989.2. Including travel inside Bengaluru city, that was exactly a 1208.6 km round-trip. All in all, a very enjoyable trip courtesy of lovely BQ, lovely roads and lovely weather. We hardly felt any stress at the end of it all, a refreshingly different feeling from our earlier road tips with the trusty little 800.

We will most likely do the Corner House run again in January. I'm hoping to have a similar, if not better, experience then.

Before that, there's a drive on the cards to Basara on 30th October. This is in Adilabad district in AP, just near the AP-Mah border. It'll be around 230 km from home one-way, so it'll be a one-day return trip to visit the famous Saraswati temple at Basar. With 4 people in the car this time it'll be a sterner test for BQ. I'm confident she'll pass with flying colours *provided* there aren't any car-breakers on that road.

One more picture to end this post -
The march of the Black Queen (my new Honda Civic 1.8V in Black)-p1050816_small.jpg
This blurry picture (courtesy of the bumpy Kukatpally section of NH9 near Metro) was taken enroute my parents' place in the evening after our return from Bengaluru. The reason we started so early from Bengaluru despite the fact that it takes only 7 hours is so that we could arrive in Hyderabad in time to visit the famous Dasara Vijayadasami event at Shankarmath (non-locals of Hyderabad, please excuse!).

After the Basar trip BQ should comfortably have hit the 5k km mark in 3 months, satisfying both conditions for her 2nd free service.

I'm running a bit late now to post the videos, so there'll be yet another post sometime tomorrow or over the weekend where I'll post a couple of links to videos we (as in whoever was the co-driver) shot during the drive.

Thanks a lot for reading patiently!

Regards,
spadix

Last edited by spadix : 21st October 2010 at 21:49.
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Old 21st October 2010, 22:33   #116
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Very concise travelogue, spadix. I enjoyed reading it to the hilt! It felt like I was sitting in the car.

I share your apprehensions of not speeding on 4-laned highways near towns because of fear of traffic coming on the wrong direction, or some tractor darting out from a gap in the median.

Going by the total kms munched, I somehow have a feeling that you just had ice-cream at Bangalore and headed back.
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Old 22nd October 2010, 13:45   #117
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Hey Spadix,
That narration was beautiful, its got me itching to do trip of my own. Been putting off the drive to Lonvala perhaps will do it before this month ends.

Well done.

Cheers
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Old 22nd October 2010, 19:38   #118
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Originally Posted by vnabhi View Post
Very concise travelogue, spadix. I enjoyed reading it to the hilt! It felt like I was sitting in the car.

Going by the total kms munched, I somehow have a feeling that you just had ice-cream at Bangalore and headed back.
Thank you Venu Sir! I couldn't have asked for more than giving you the feel of actually sitting in the car!

Bengaluru is a pretty small city, I feel. My jaunt inside the city was as follows -

Hebbal -> St. Mark's Road (via Mekhri Circle/JC Nagar/Cantonment/Queen's Road) -> Koramangala (via Adugodi) -> Indiranagar HAL 3rd stage (via IRR) -> Koramangala -> VM Road -> Koramangala -> ORR near Sarjapur Cross -> Koramangala -> Hebbal (via Adugodi/St. Mark's Road/Cunningham Road/Cantonment/JC Nagar/Mekhri Circle)

So that covered a lot of ground from the Northern tip of the City through the Centre to the South-Eastern tip and then back all the way, and yet it was only around 80 kms. A similar sort of journey in Hyderabad would cover a lot more ground I feel.

And yeah, we made 3 visits to Corner House in the 1.5 days we were there . That's enough to keep us at bay for a few more months.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hiren.mistry View Post
Hey Spadix,
That narration was beautiful, its got me itching to do trip of my own. Been putting off the drive to Lonvala perhaps will do it before this month ends.

Well done.
Thank you, Hiren! You should really take your Civic out on the open road. That's where it belongs and not on our jam-packed, pot-holed city roads.

I remember a quote from a friend of mine who owns a Mitsubishi Lancer 1.8 INVEX. We were discussing Honda City vs. Lancer INVEX around the time he bought his INVEX (around 2002 - just when the NHC was introduced). I was talking about how the City makes for a fabulous, practical car for in-city use and he quipped back saying the INVEX was too good to be a city car .

I feel the same way about the Civic, and with good reason.

Regards,
spadix
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Old 27th October 2010, 15:57   #119
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Default BQ's (first) weekend out - Videos

Here are links to a couple of videos that we shot during the drive. There are more (which you can access in youtube).



This one-minute video will give you a bit of a feel for the road.

Most of it's actually very straight, like in this other short clip -



The shake you see is not due to bumpy road surface but mostly due to an unsteady camera operator .

This longish one was taken in the last stretch when it had started raining -



I like watching those water drops climb up the windscreen. The first time I saw that was on the German autobahn and I couldn't believe my eyes!

Also notice how the rear windscreen was perfectly dry at that time.

There was one interesting, but potentially dangerous, incident that happened just after Gooty which I forgot to narrate.

The narrow undivided 2-lane stretch and lots of heavy and slow-moving vehicles meant somewhere someone's patience had to give. In this case it happened to be a Safari a few car lengths in front of us. Initially he was right in front of us, and then overtook a truck and an auto and got further ahead. That wasn't enough and he tried another overtaking maneouvre on the truck ahead of him. This time however he failed to judge the gap between him and the oncoming auto and had to swerve hard to his left (in front of the truck he just overtook), only to probably find he was getting too close to another truck in front of him, so he swerved hard again to the right.

It was too much for the vehicle-driver combo. He lost control and fishtailed his way to a stop into a small patch of soil off the road to the right. Luckily for him the speed was low (maybe around 40 kmph give or take) and there was that flat patch besides the road whereas just before and after that patch there were kilometre stones and/or trees.

As we passed the Safari we saw a lot of animated hand-waving (literally) going on inside. I don't know whether it was planned move that went wrong or whether they were totally surprised and just didn't know what happened. Either way, I would count us lucky that we weren't immediately behind him (I usually do not tailgate an overtaker).

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spadix
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Old 8th November 2010, 14:26   #120
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Default The first 100 days: 3 months/~5000 km update - Trip to Basar (Part I)

On Oct. 30, 2010 BQ completed 3 months with us. To celebrate it, and also to complete another long-planned thing we drove to Basar and back. This was a 400-km round trip drive, and this time there were 4 people in the car - parents, wife and yours truly - along with some light luggage.

I'll start off with the stats -

Onward journey
Start time/odo/location: 7:00 am/4507.2/Ferozeguda (near BHEL R&D on NH9)
End time/odo/location: 10:45 am/4706.0/Basar (near the Gnana Saraswati temple)
Breaks: 3, didn't track total stoppage time - One long break at APTDC's Haritha highway restaurant around 100 kms from the starting point. There was also one other "break" at a railway crossing around 50 kms further up the road. And finally, the obligatory short bio break.

Return journey
Start time/odo/location: 12:30 pm/4706.0/Basar
End time/odo/location: ~5:00 pm/4909.4/Ferozeguda
Breaks: Quite a few, again didn't track the total stoppage time - One huge break at Ashoka Rock Garden + Lake near Nizamabad, one other break on the highway itself to buy some sitaphal, lunch break at the Haritha restaurant and finally, a very short driver switch break inside the city limits.

The first ~120 kms out from Hyderabad is once again on the beautiful 4-laned NH7. While 90+% of the entire stretch from Bengaluru to Hyderabad is now 4-laned, the stretch to the north of Hyderabad (to Nagpur) is done only up to a little further up from Kamareddi. As expected it was very enjoyable driving on this stretch. Once we crossed Medchal there was hardly any traffic. The weather was very beautiful - 22 degrees Celsius, cloudy but not overcast and windy. It was very tempting to drive with the windows down but that would've meant too much wind noise and things flying around inside the car. It is on such occasions that I prefer I was on the motorcycle rather than inside a car (well, if the car happens to be anything but BQ ). I wasn't alone, however, so I have no regrets.

We reached the highway restaurant at roughly 8:10 am - around an hour after we left home. The empty 4-laned stretch really makes you lose track of both time and distance.

There's another thing it makes you lose track of, too. I'll describe this in a bit.

The APTDC Haritha restaurants across the state are built to the same architectural plan. There's the usual "AC rooms" with roofs and glass windows and a naturally ventilated area with only a roof and no walls (our preference usually, and especially so given the wonderful weather). Near the ample parking space is a children's play area which actually sees more adults than children!

I don't have the pictures from this trip with me right now -- I'll post them in a subsequent post.

Beyond Kamareddi, the road is an undivided 2-lane affair which hasn't changed much over the past 12-odd years! This section of road is pretty rough and features a lot of patchwork, but there are no deep potholes or insane speed-breakers so a steady pace could be maintained, traffic permitting. On the 4-lane stretch the other thing one doesn't realize is the volume of traffic on the highway especially near a major town. There are very few large towns between Medchal and Kamareddi. The 4-laned road accentuates the emptiness. Nizamabad is not very far off from Kamareddi however, and the proximity of these two sizeable settlements and the narrower, rougher, constricted (by construction) road meant that progress was slow on this stretch. It puts the experience of driving on the 4-laned road in perspective. Overtaking maneouvres have to be really carefully planned despite having plenty of power on tap. Another feature of these older stretches of road is the sheer number of blind turns on them. Great for fun, but not for safety in the face of heavy, slow-moving highway traffic. One of the things the NHAI has been doing religiously is to straighten out the highways as much as possible. We may complain about it no end, but from the point of view of a heavy truck driver that's a real God-send.

There is a part of this stretch between Kamareddi - Dichpally - Nizamabad that goes through a forest-like area. I hope the forest isn't entirely cleared for 4-laning and straightening. A certain amount of trees would have to be cut but I hope the damage isn't total and is somehow made up for by afforestation on the outer edges.

We knew about the existence of this undivided stretch in advance and so the "contract" was that both of us (wife and I) get to drive on both types of stretches. My father couldn't take the controls of the car as he's currently been advised by our doctor to stay away from driving for a couple of months. I started off driving on the onward journey and wife took the controls at the restaurant. The narrow two-laned portion up to the 1st railway crossing, with the attendant construction debris and loads of heavy vehicles got a little bit too much for her and I was back in the driver's seat while we were waiting for the train to cross. I took the wheel all the way from Basar to the restaurant on the return leg and my wife drove the final leg on the 4-laned section. Much to her chagrin it started raining heavily during this leg , just like it did on our return trip from Bengaluru where she drove the last 200-odd kms in moderate to heavy rain.

While switching over at this first railway crossing there was a group of beggars that started haranguing us for some money. I just don't like donating alms to able-bodied people and all of them were definitely able-bodied, although slightly old. All at once, I was torn between not wanting to donate, not wanting to come across as a rude guy in a fancy car and somehow trying to get them to leave as soon as possible because their vessels and sticks were liberally hitting the car and I was worried about BQ getting hurt inadvertently. Perhaps I'm very wrong to think in this way, courtesy of my situation as compared to theirs, but their behaviour was pretty aggressive (but not dangerous). My father gave in and reached for his wallet as they were about to leave. They saw this and started running back. In the meantime the gates opened and I'd started to move. All in all the confusion was a bit comical. Dad gave them the money and we drove off.

Unfortunately for my wife, the traffic after the railway crossing wasn't too bad and the road widened considerably even though it was still only an undivided 2-laned one. She could've enjoyed the drive if she had stayed on a few more minutes but she didn't seem to miss it because the usual random town/city-like traffic started to grow as we took the left turn (off NH7 now) at Dichpally and neared Nizamabad. In the town we had to stop and ask for the directions to Basar at a couple of places and it was very slow progress. I wish a bypass is built soon.

On the way out of Nizamabad we saw a rock garden and a lake that had boating as well. We made a note to stop here while returning. The priority was to get to the temple at Basar before noon. As far as we knew, the morning darshan slot runs only up to noon and then there's a 3+ hour break before the afternoon/evening slot begins.

The last 20-odd kms were really beautiful in this weather. It's a flat landscape but there are rich green fields and the railway track almost runs parallel to the road for most of this stretch. I wouldn't want to be caught without shelter on this road in the summer, though! We didn't take any pictures here or on the bridge over the Godavari river just before entering Basar.

We were lucky to easily find a parking slot right outside the temple. It turns out there were hardly 50 devotees in the temple, which to me was very surprising. From my previous three visits to the temple - with the latest being more than a decade ago - I remembered only the heavy, jostling crowds.

To be continued ...

Regards,
spadix
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