|1st December 2009, 00:11||#1|
Senior - BHPian
Offroading event in the city of joy - Kolkata chapter's first OTR report
Malcolm Gladwell's famous book "The Tipping Point" tells us that there are 3 kinds of people needed to start off a revolution. The Maven (the pundit whose knowledge on a topic surpasses everyone around), The Connector (the guy with all the contacts) and The Salesman (the guy who sells the idea of the revolution to everyone around). When the 3 meet, a revolution takes place.
Our little "revolution" story starts off when The Salesman met the Maven. This was not their first meeting, but as cherished as ever. They were at the Maven's house, chatting over some delicious tea and jalebis. Here's how the conversation went:
Salesman: Sir, you're so well known to the country as the ultimate authority on Jeeps. You travel everywhere, teaching off-roading and handing out jeep tips to anyone who asks. You have told me about people in Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi and many other places - who have flourished under your wings. Most of these people are also Bhpians. Why is it so that we never get to hear of your students in Kolkata?
Maven: Well, thats not entirely true. I do have a team here. Its small, but they are a dedicated bunch. And I have my sons.
Salesman: Yes, but how come we don't hear of OTRs you organize here? There are solitary people who take advice from you, but where's the group visibility?
Maven: You see, I won't disagree that people here are slightly more lax than other cities. Someone has to take the initiative to get together people and make an OTR worthwhile. I'd love to organize something on a group level. But get me the group first!
So the salesman promises the Maven that he'll get him a group, and leaves. Over the next few weeks, he keeps calling up the Maven to organize an OTR. (He still has no idea where the group will come from). Maven answers his calls with patience, promises him something will come up, but nothing surfaces.
Finally, one Friday evening, as the Salesman is coming home from office, the phone rings. Its the Maven.
Maven: Are you aware that we have a community called Jeepthrills?
Salesman: Yes sir, of course. Why?
Maven: Well this Sunday we are organizing a Jeepthrills OTR event. Its a workshop (as opposed to a full scale excursion) since we'll be doing basic offroading, and want to teach new people. Would you and your "group" care to join?
Salesman: (Whooping and hollering internally but maintaining a most civil demeanor on the call). Of course sir. Just give me some time. I'll get together a few people and come to your place on Sunday.
The Salesman then takes stock. First up, his wife. She had been to the Maven's place earlier, took interest in everything related to jeeps, and had a lot of respect for him. She was also interested to actually go offroading.
Second, his friend and colleague Joseph (NOS Power). The guy had accompanied him during his first visit to Maven, and was an equal fan of all things jeep.
Third, the young designer Ayan. Brilliant sketch artist, eager to learn, one who had bugged him to be taken to the Maven's place one day.
Err, umm, that makes 4. Who else?
Not having any other option, the Salesman calls up the Connector, Bhpian Planet_Rocker. Tells him to inform everyone that an OTR event is being organized. Planet faithfully does the same. The next day, the salesman goes to work as well, calling up all the Kolkata bhpians he has numbers of.
To cut a long story short, the much looked forward to OTR happens on Sunday. Except The Salesman's usual 4 suspects, only 1100D turns up to form the group.
(At this stage, you must have figured out that the Maven is UBS, and the idiot salesman is me). On with the event report then. The first OTR report from the Kolkata chapter of Tbhp:
The day starts with the group gathering at UBS' house in Liluah. Its a not so chilly winter morning as NOS Power, Ayan and 1100D reach by 8.30. The only man in the group who has to bring his wife along reaches, naturally, an hour late.
The place is chock a block with activity. Seven Jeeps have been lined up, and Pavan and the other mechanics are rechecking the rides to see everything is in order. There are guests other than the 5 bhpians, some of whom are also going on their first OTR. UBS and his 2 sons, Adi and Vidyun, are overseeing everything.
Here's a pic of the 6 beauties intended for the OTR. Left to right:
1. Rani, a petrol Willys and one of the oldest in UBS' stable.
2. Raja, another petrol Willys and UBS' lucky charm jeep. This one has only HT tyres and is used regularly, but UBS says his OTRs wont be complete unless Raja accompanies him on them.
3. The famous 1942 Willys that did the Great Arc Rally. This one is a tiger, kitted out with a powerful winch and a lot of OTR equipment.
4. Another petrol Willys. I think this one was just called "HIM".
5. The ex army 550. I completely lost my heart to this machine. It was fully restored, with new MRF Sandgrip tyres and a snorkel. I felt like a million dollars just sitting in it.
6. The ex WHO MM. They call it "WHO"
7. Another govt MM that was functioning as the support vehicle.
You can see UBS addressing (L to R) Anirban in the green shirt, Joseph, me, my wife Sanchayata (completely hidden behind my girth) and Ayan. The guy on mobile walking in the foreground is Pavan, UBS' trusted mechanic.
Raja, the lucky charm Jeep
Raja and the Gung Ho jeep
Also accompanying us were 3 most interesting ladies. First, UBS' grand daughter, the cute 4 yr old Mahi. Second, Mrs UBS, the most charming hostess one could come across. Third, UBS' mother-in-law, the 82 year old "Nani".
Anyway, so once the crowd had gathered and checking completed, UBS asked us who wanted to drive which jeep? It was like children in a candy store getting to choose their favourite.
Anirban succumbed to the charms of Rani. Joseph and Ayan chose the WHO jeep.
I was in love with the Army MM550. I firmly declared I would drive it. UBS warned me that the vehicle had a clutch problem (hard as a rock) and wayward steering, but I was steadfast. So what if your loved one has a few blemishes?
In the leftmost car, UBS with the 3 lovely ladies in his life. Next car, yours truly and his truly. Third car, NOS Power and Ayan.
Anirban driving Rani. Seated next to him is Hemmings, a Bangalore Jeepthrills member who was part of this workshop.
Adi all gung ho on his favourite Jeep
Vidyun just checking everything is in order (or was he just searching for his goggles? lol)
So the convoy set off. We had strict instructions to keep the order and not to overtake. Thats what we did, sticking to Joseph's tail and seeing UBS stick to mine.
Driving the MM was a delight. The rock hard clutch and steering were giving my muscles much needed exercise (why don't they design steerings that need to be operated with the belly? I could lose some serious weight). The commanding driving position made me feel like a king. People were overtaking us, then turning around and giving us awestruck looks. The car was the star, or was it?
Our first stop was a Dhaba outside Dankuni. This belonged to Ghanshyamji, a fellow jeeper and one of the nicest people we met. He had recently bought an MM and done it up for OTRs. As we sipped chai at the Dhaba, his monster rolled in.
Vidyun checking out Ghanshyamji's ride
Most interesting was the smoothness of the engine, and the funny seats. Also this was the first time I was seeing JK sandgrips in the flesh.
At the dhaba, we had a briefing session on offroading. UBS warned us not to show josh, and be wary of mother nature. He designated Adi as our captain for the day, and told us what kind of stuff we were about to encounter. The 5 of us listened like kindergarten children.
(I have pics of the briefing , among many others, on my other camera. Will put them up tomorrow).
Some pics of the cars at the briefing site.
Anyway, from here the convoy proceeded towards a village in Baidyabati. Traffic on old Delhi road was nice, and I could finally sense the MM talking to me. The convoy proceeded at a slow pace, the snarl of the diesel and the tyre noise settling us into a lull.
At one place we stopped to buy water and refreshments. This was at a stall just off the highway. The inquisitive locals came to ask us what was going on. UBS promptly told them that we were shooting for an action movie, the vehicles would be used for stunts, and my wife was the heroine.
We finally reached the OTR spot by about 12 in the afternoon. It was a small hillock beside a shallow river, across a bridge.
The first course was a Supari khet. A narrow steep path went down into the khet, took a snaky route. You then had the choice of climbing up via the same path, or make a full circle and come up via a steeper, broken path (I think 1100D has a very good pic of the latter slope).
Captain Adi and Hemmings go off to recce the route
They stroll around a bit down there, then decide its all safe for the newbies, and climb up again
This is followed by all of us taking our jeeps down there. UBS and Adi marshall the whole event with an iron hand.
I am at the wheel of the MM. In front of me is a 25 foot slope. I cant see the ground beneath. It will be my first descent.
UBS instructs me at my first climb down. "Have faith in yourself, and faith in the machine. Put it in 4L, engage first, and roll down with no pedals pressed. The car will take care of you"
I do that. The grin on my face is unbelievable as the car completes the descent with no drama.
10 mins later, I'm lined up for the ascent. By this time everyone has decided that I have to take the latter (steeper and broken slope). Adi hollers in my ear "Aniket, just put the car in low, gear in 2nd, and give it full throttle. Its not so difficult as you think"
I take a deep breath, look at the climb, and zoom off. The MM executes a perfect climb, and in no time I'm back on level ground. I let off a whoop. I'm an offroader now!
(Unfortunately, the supari khet stage didn't last long. The owner got wind that we were playing in his turf, and he shooed us out) On we were to stage 2.
Stage 2 really wasn't for the newbies, only Adi and Vidyun showing us what the jeeps are capable of.
We were standing on the river embankment. The river, shallow as it was, was a good 60-70 ft below. There was a small mud island in the middle of the river. We first sent a guy to recce on foot. He climbed down, walked across (water level was really low) and went on the island. Then Vidyun climbed down with Rani.
Drove across the water
And went on to the island
Satisfied, he turned around, gunned the throttle and made a dash to climb up. The jeep climbed up about 20ft, then slipped down below. Another attempt, and same result. It was actually the soft mud at the edge of the river that was taking off all the momentum from the wheels of the jeep.
Vidyun surveying the situation
We knew then that we would have to winch him out.
(to be continued)
|1st December 2009, 00:43||#2|
Join Date: Nov 2007
Thanked: 1,641 Times
You guys are a blessed lot, getting to learn from the master himself. Excellent narration. Please post up the rest without soap opera style pseudo-suspense breaks
|1st December 2009, 10:38||#3|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Jun 2006
Thanked: 3,993 Times
Last edited by 1100D : 1st December 2009 at 10:48.
|1st December 2009, 10:54||#4|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Nov 2009
Thanked: 110 Times
Very good. COngrats for doing a successful off road event. Now the description is enough(cannot wait to see the off roading). Can you please post the remaining of the pics.
|1st December 2009, 11:14||#5|
Senior - BHPian
Stage 2 (Continued)
I left you yesterday with Vidyun and Rani strangled in the water. The Great Arc Jeep (I will keep referring to it as the gung ho jeep) was brought into service. Adi controlled it, while I was made to sit in the rear to act as ballast (I'll never hear the end of this ).
We all watched and learnt the art of winching. Vidyun's car slowly climbed up.
There was a roar from the crowd as he made it to the bank
At this point, big brother decided that if little brother could do it, so could he. So Adi took Hemmings, and went rolling down with the Gung Ho Jeep.
Same round trip on the river bed, same charge up the bank, same slipping down! So now we had the 2 and the Gung ho jeep at the bottom.
Whattado? First they tried using the Gung Ho's winch, and tying it to a tree nearby.
Adi used all the power of the Gung Ho's winch to pull himself up. Just when he was perilously close to making it..
..disaster struck. The winch wire snapped! It recoiled in the air with a bzz, like a cracked whip. Thankfully no one in its range got seriously hurt.
Adi hurtled down the slope into the river bank once again. Now he seemed truly stranded.
Much to my amazement, no one in the team lost their cool. This was all in a day's work for them.
The rani jeep was brought in. Its winch tied to Gung Ho's bumper. In addition, the torn winch rope was tied to Raja's bumper. Together Raja and Rani pulled out Gung Ho from the river.
It was an amazing feat of patience and coordination. We learnt a lot from the winching lesson.
By the end of stage 2, everyone was tired and it was time for lunch. UBS and my wife Sanchayata handed out lunch to everyone.
(I have to urgently go somewhere, so shall end now. I promise that the story will conclude by today afternoon)
|1st December 2009, 13:22||#6|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Oct 2008
Thanked: 860 Times
Terrific write-up as usual!
Ghanshamji's newly restored mint green MM550 was the best to drive.
Even the MM540 that Joseph and I drove to the site was awesome.It even had a retrofitted AC with a SuperKing blower!
@1100D-Remember the ride back in the LHD Willys?! What an experience.
|1st December 2009, 13:52||#8|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Nov 2004
Thanked: 1,865 Times
Reminds me of the first time we went there in Jan 2006. The place hasn't changed much.
Nice to see the OTR scene kicking off in West Bengal.
BTW - Can you guess why the winch cable snapped? and why the winch line, was hooked back onto itself and why wasn't a tree-trunk protector used on the tree-trunk.
Please use a damper/blanket/tarpaulin on a live cable, we guys in Chennai have come very close to similar disasters.
PS - Safety First
|1st December 2009, 14:30||#9|
Senior - BHPian
Post lunch, everyone was getting restless. For a few hours, we were given a free hand to try out the terrain, on any vehicle we wished.
Off I went trying out every car, over a brief pre-determined course. First up was Rani. I was amazed by how light the steering of these Willys jeeps was, almost like power steering, and the silence of the petrol engine. Did a brief tour, then came back.
Next up was Ghanshyam ji's machine. Very well done up, smooth engine (for a diesel) and stonking off road ability. I did a few gentle climbs in 2wd mode!
Next up, my "own" MM550. Tough steering, even tougher on off road. But killer torque.
Ayan enjoying the drive. I was riding shotgun.
Get out of my way, ya morons!
Living on the edge
The back of beyond
Following the captain's jeep
Joseph beached himself while climbing a harmless looking rock. It took so many men and UBS at the wheel to get the car unstuck.
Last stage, most difficult, and most entertaining, was to climb a 12-15 foot, 60 degree earthen wall, and climb back again. Sorry, but the pics do not convey how steep the wall was. Some of us had to use all fours when climbing.
Captain Adi shows us the way. Look at the relaxed body language.
Anirban does a cool climb
Ayan is one of the first to do the descent, look how easy he makes it look
Joseph gets into the act. I was marshalling at this stage, and his body language was one of ease.
My wife Sanchayata deserves a special mention. So far, she had just stood there, watching the boys bully the jeeps around. When we came to this climb, UBS specifically asked her to do it in the MM. She was scared as hell. I had to sit next to her, give her a lot of pep talk. UBS also gave her a lot of advice in his usual soothing demeanour.
Ultimately she went for the jump. Put the car in 4L, 1st gear, gave it too much gas. The vehicle flew up in the air halfway through the incline, then landed with a thud. We were lucky that we did not lose control. Of course, from outside it looked spectacular.
Upon completing the jump, Sanchayata quickly steered it to safety. The crowd of villagers, which had gathered, burst into applause. "Heroine" had just completed the stunt!
Sanchayata completing her spectacular jump
At the end, Pavan tried to get Raja to complete the climb. But Raja had 2wd and HT tyres. Pavan tried his best, but everytime the car just slipped down.
Then UBS came on. I dont know how he did it, but Raja did complete the climb!
It was getting dark, so we had to bring an end to the proceedings. The exhausted but happy crew lines up for a photo shoot.
On our way back, Rani (now driven by Anirban and Ayan) kept breaking down. The culprit was kachra in the (long unused) fuel line. But Pavan and team were available ready in the convoy, so everytime we stopped, they did something to get the car moving.
We reached back at 6 in the evening. All of us were exhausted, but this was to be the beginning of many OTRs. Kolkata chapter had opened its OTR account!
(All thanks to UBS for organizing such a wonderful event and sharing his cars. Also thanks to captain Adi for sharing some of his pics with me).
|1st December 2009, 14:53||#10|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Aug 2007
Thanked: 424 Times
You guys had good fun, and congratulations on starting regular off road activity in WB.
p.s- That Snorkel is anything unlike i have seen on any other jeep that is on green MM550
|1st December 2009, 15:05||#11|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: The Nilgiris
Thanked: 119 Times
Predatorwheelz, awesome report and a good bunch of pictures. Of course I would have love to see more. Its great to see the master UBS in action. I really envy you guys.
Hope to see more events happening. predatorwheelz, this should further induce you on the Nomad project, all the best.
|1st December 2009, 15:11||#12|
Join Date: Jun 2004
Thanked: 75 Times
One word for this event "Awesome".
Didn't know off roading was this easy (of whatever we tried our hands on).
Thanks to UBS sir and his sons and Pavan for making it look so easy for us.
@predatorwheels, I did not even drive "Rani" anytime throughout the event so thats certainly not me who got stuck with it on the rock.
|1st December 2009, 15:16||#13|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Feb 2006
Thanked: 227 Times
Good report with bit too much masaala in the first thread.
Finally the West bengal offroading is kicking. Congratulations to UBS and all of you. Very good begining on first OTR.
Wishing the gang to become bigger and bigger every time.
|1st December 2009, 15:38||#14|
Join Date: Jan 2005
Thanked: 25,682 Times
That's a great report PW. Must be a great experience to get your first offroad lesson from the grandmaster of Jeeps.
I only person I can recognise in the pics is Adiraj, he has thicker beard since I met him last year.