Yamaha

Yamaha

THE FANTASTICO ROAD TRIP WITH TATA TIAGO

We’ve had an ongoing love affair with cars and open roads. To be honest, there are very few things that hold as much appeal as the classic road trip that takes us away from the city. Needless to say, we take every opportunity that comes our way. The idea of soaring through the tarmac and leaving work behind is always a welcome change; especially when leaving work behind to go on road trips is part of the job. Yes, life is pretty much perfect.

As life would have it, such an opportunity did come by when the good folks from Sipradi Trading Pvt. Ltd, Tata Motors offered us an opportunity to take their newest offering, the Tiago, out on a spin. This was around the time half the population of the Capital headed towards Mustang and flooded social media with their journeys. We had something different in mind. This is the journey that took five best friends all the way to the culturally diverse city of Janakpur in a trip of a life time where friendships were renewed and stronger bonds were built. And we did it all in the new Tata Tiago.

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THE DEPARTURE

There is always someone on a road trip who ends up completely ruining the schedule, and our group was not any different. Waiting on someone outside their home isn’t the best way to start an epic road trip, but that’s how things unfolded for us. And sure as a gun he received an earful for his tardiness. Brushing aside the delay, we set out to our destination for the day: Bardibas in Mahottari District. If everything was to go according to plan we would reach Bardibas by 6pm in the evening. So we had packed all of our stuff and put it into the boot which was more than capable of accommodating our entire luggage.

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In fact, for what looks like a pretty compact hatchback the Tiago could comfortably seat all five of us with room to spare for some ukulele playing as well.

THE JOURNEY TO BARDIBAS

Once we got rolling it seemed like we had passed Dhulikhel and were cruising through the BP Highway in no time. With the weather in its best in months the entire mountain range was clearly visible making for a scenic vista for the drive. The sun was shining bright and the smooth tarmac made for a cushy ride on the Tiago. We remember saying the Zest was the best offering that Tata Motors had of yet, but the way the Tiago was performing it seemed well on its way to dethrone its sibling.

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Powering the hatchback through the straights and turns was Tata’s renowned Revtron 1.2L petrol engine. While the Zest and Bolt received the same engine, they ran on 4 cylinders while the Tiago ran on 3, making it more responsive and fun to drive.

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What we were really looking forward to was the drive through the twists and turns of the BP Highway that would lead us to Sindhuli. A driving haven for car and motorcycle enthusiasts all over Nepal, the hairpin bends and scenic beauty was just what the zippy Tiago needed to come to life. The handling is fun too and the steering feels well weighed even at triple digit speeds. This hatchback remains stable at high speeds and body roll is very well contained.

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The sunburst orange of the Tiago stood out perfectly on the tarmac and we couldn’t help but admire how good it looked. Its distinctive style comes from its large swept back headlamps and oversize mesh-type grille on the front face. It is one of the best designs to come from Tata and definitely one of the best amongst competition. And there are many interesting design elements and that further get highlighted once you step inside the cabin. Equipped with Harman™ infotainment system, we made sure our playlists kept the drive fun and preppy.

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For lunch we stopped at a roadside eatery where we refueled with a hearty roadtripper’s lunch: daal, bhaat and masu. And lots of it. It has become a sort of tradition for us at AutoLife to make sure we eat enough food to get us noticed by bystanders. We’re not quite sure how that habit stuck on but 3 additional  helpings per person and more than 6 servings of fried potato crisps later the job was done.

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On the flip side, we then had to practically roll over to the Tiago without hinting towards the fact that we had over eaten, which we most definitely had. Again, we’re not sure why we’re like this. We don’t stop eating when we’re full, we stop eating when we get noticed.

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Proud and well fed, we realized we were falling behind schedule. The photography stops lasted a little longer than we had planned, but to be honest this was expected. Luckily, we weren’t really in much of a hurry. Before long the sun was starting to set and a few hours later, our lunch had finally settled down.

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Which meant it was time for a tea break. We needed a short respite and the cozy setting of the road side  tea house seemed like the perfect place to relax. The friendly people there served us some terrific tea and omelet as we watched the last rays of sunlight disappear from the skies to be replaced by the shimmering stars.

AT BARDIBAS

It had been 2 hours since we stopped caring about our planned schedule. It was completely dark by the time the lights of Bardibas appeared far in the horizon. The number of houses increased and the busy junction at Mahottari signaled that we had finally arrived at our rest point for the day.

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We checked into a nice place that went by the name of Pawan Mithila Hotel. After the long day of driving we were famished, despite the colossal lunch. At this point we would like to explain another one of our quirks. Our theory dictates, the food served at a hotel is inversely proportional to the niceties of its lodging facilities; shabbier the place the more authentic and flavorful the food and vice versa. Applying that theory we were pretty much expecting a clean, posh and boring dinner at the swanky marble floored hotel. But we were pleasantly surprised to be served one of the best thakali sets we had ever had. Guess that theory went to the gutter fast.

After guzzling down our food, mandatory second and third helpings included, we headed to bed with plans to head off straight to Janakpur early next morning so that we could explore the city…

AND THE BANDH

…. However, the next morning, a nationwide bandh was put into effect. That pretty much halted our progress and it looked like we had to spend another day at Bardibas. Sadly, it wasn’t the most exciting place to be in after you’d been there for more than 3 hours. But because there was a bandh we decided to make the most of it by exploring.

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We left the Tiago at the hotel and headed to Ratu Bridge which was approximately two kilometers away on the popular electric ‘city safari’ vehicles. A walk through the jungle and splash by the river later we decided to head back. The bandh would be over by 5pm and we were going to head out to Janakpur that very night.

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We walked back to our hotel and put our packed luggage into the trunk and headed off to Janakpur. On the way we stopped to take a few photographs and we had the misfortune of meeting some unfriendly locals. Drunk and groggy, they decided it was a good idea to slander us with names which we felt were strictly reserved for the purpose of identifying their mothers. Understanding that they were already operating at full capacity by stringing words into sentences AND putting one foot in front of the other at the same time we tried to get things under control. We politely explained to them that we were from the media and were only doing our job. Adamant to avoid a tiff in the middle of the road we ultimately had to show them our Press Cards before they left us at peace and went about their daily routine of, what we presume, is sifting through cow manure.

Long story short, despite the bandh and inebriated drunk divers we managed to reach Janakpur at night in high spirits.

THE JANAKI MANDIR

As soon as we arrived at Janakpur we checked into the nearest hotel and parked the Tiago to go out in search for a place to have dinner. We didn’t even unpack because we also wanted to visit the beautiful Janaki Mandir; to do that we took a ‘city safari’ again and asked the man at the wheels to take us there.

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The day hadn’t involved too much of driving but the incident with the unruly locals had brought along some negativity. However, once we reached the Janaki Mandir, things looked up. The beautiful palace, dedicated to goddess Sita, is one of those places that have a way of putting you at peace. All five of us took in the liberating spiritual vibes of the beautiful temple and contemplated our own personal thoughts. Although we don’t identify as a spiritual and religious group, this was a quiet moment that really helped us get in touch with a very different side of ourselves.

MOSQUITOES, FAULTY AIR CONDITIONING AND UNEXPLAINED ODORS

After an hour or so at the Janaki Mandir we went to have dinner at a nearby restaurant that was considered the best my many locals. The restaurant was called Nawarang and the food surpassed our expectations. It is definitely a place we recommend. However, the trip was going to take a turn for the worse.

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Comparing the hotel at Bardibas with the one that we stayed in at Janakpur would be like comparing a mutton ghosh biryani at the Hyderabad House with a poorly prepared plate of cold chicken fried rice at a generic café. The beds were extremely uncomfortable, and the air conditioner was not working. There was a pungent odor in our room that remained unexplained and the mosquitoes were relentless. But we were pretty tired and didn’t see a point in looking for another hotel at 10:00pm in the night. And we suffered.

THE JOURNEY BACK HOME

Having mosquitoes buzz into your ears the entire time is a terrible way to spend the night. Unsurprisingly, the mood of the group was quite sour. It was apparent that we needed a hearty breakfast to brighten up the mood.

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Off we went on our Tiago to go in search of some local breakfast that would hit the right spot. After a brief search we found a local purely vegetarian sweet shop that also served breakfast. Referring to our theory of the relation of food to infrastructure, the scruffy interiors and rickety wooden stools looked promising. And we were not disappointed. We stuffed our faces with a towering pile of puri, tarkari, daal fry and some of the best julebis we ever had. Yes, we had oil dripping down our wrists and there were ants crawling over the sweetson display but the breakfast was out of this world.

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And we needed a heavy breakfast because we would be heading all the way back to Kathmandu that very day. It’s a good thing the Tiago is such a comfortable car to travel in. Sure it is a little snug for five people who love to eat as much as we do but we’d like to think that it helped us strengthen our bonds.

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On the way back we hit the same spots for food. We had a quick tea break at the same roadside tea house and let our breakfast settle in. For lunch we chose the same restaurant where we had lunch the day before. Let’s just say the people at the restaurant were very happy to see us.

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All in all it was a splendid road trip that really helped us escape the daily grind. Furthermore, the trip proved that you don’t have to follow everyone else to have a good time.There might be very few people who would go to Janakpur without any religious intentions, but we were amongst the minority and we are certain we made a good decision.

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But more importantly we got to do it in what we believe is Tata’s best offering yet: the fantastic Tiago. Sure there are things that you could niggle over about its performance on the highways but there are so many strong points that outweigh the cons. A road trip isn’t perfect without a good vehicle to drive in,but lucky for us, this trip was pretty perfect.

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