Info - Up and Close Bharat Tour - 2




Up and Close Bharat – 2021 – Part 2




On the way to Pithoragarh - UttraKhand

Travel, Car and Driving –



Travel and Driving


Fundamentally I always drive without getting into racing or any such ego related complications. It is a very determined decision. For me, driving never should involve emotions.


I have realised that City driving, Highway driving and Mountain driving are completely different things. You can have experience in one, still you will have to get experience in others. I think on highways, truck drivers are the best drivers – Most patient and disciplined they are. [ Although they tend to drive in the wrong lanes!] Tourist car drivers’ only aim in life is to go ahead of everyone. I also observed that many private car drivers’ attention is divided between enjoying the moment and driving – thus less focused on traffic and driving. Apparently, I managed well, as I didn’t get even one scratch on my car in the entire journey.


Anticipation of the traffic is a very important factor in safe driving. The modern invention of Indicators has not reached to many people, so your judgment and imagination is important. A trick my friend had told me ages ago has come in handy all the time to me – “Look at the front wheels of the truck and then you exactly know where it is going!” In case of a questionable road, I would simply stop and wait till some other vehicle would pass through that patch and then follow.



Evenings I had to drop my speed between 50 to 70 due to cows, buffaloes and their shameless owners loitering on highways. They are the most dangerous animals for traffic. Second troublesome animals are the dogs. They love to chase and some die in that adventure . But they can harm the car substantially, in case of a collision. Third most dangerous criminals are the humans coming wrong side and wrong way. I regularly encountered jeeps, tractors and at times trucks coming in opposite direction, and in several cases, they were even driving in my fast lane [ next to the divider].




Endurance –


Initially I could drive for 4 hours and I would be tired. Eventually my endurance increased, and I could drive comfortably for 11 to 13 hours a day without getting exhausted or fatigued. I had not done any practice drives for that. [I had not entered any competition for “How many hours I drove in one day”, and am not interested in boasting about it or any other thing for that matter]. Also, I drove only in day time. As I would wake up early, I would feel sleepy around 10 30 -11. I would then stop and take a nap. Didn’t drive in sleepy conditions.




Maps and Dust - Spiti Valley - Himachal Pradesh


Maps


I had downloaded all the necessary maps and saved many locations of interest. Yet, I would ask for directions to truck drivers or locals, when leaving the highways. I would save routs for tomorrow’s driving, so that I could use my brain instead of depending completely on maps brain – which doesn’t suit Indian road conditions in many situations. For S Cross, I found out that starting the car, letting the phone connect to the system on Bluetooth, and then attaching the cable worked in stable connection for 99% of the attempts. Keeping a spare cable too helped. [ Due to lockdown the shops were closed]





At Chang La Pass - Ladakh


Car -


Taking care of the car is highly important for me, so twice a week in flat lands, and on alternate days in the mountains, I would check air. I would investigate any noise coming inside the car. All such noises were basically created by my luggage. Car had nothing to do with those. All petrol pumps have toilets now, and 90% of them are well maintained. I would refill the tank when it would remain about 1/3rd. Petrol pumps are a good place to make local enquiries about good hotels and better roads etc. I would get the car washed once or twice a week.


I saw many brand-new looking cars having different issues. Most common was that the brake pads needed replacement. Thankfully I didn’t have any issue with my car. Carrying a powerful air pump is a great idea. In case of a small puncture, you can fill the air and reach the repair shop in case.



I shall stop by telling you one fact -



To be honest, I can’t even fill air in the tyres. Understanding anything else about the car is beyond me. I am writing this not because I am stupidly proud of this fact, but to tell that you don’t need to be expert in car maintenance to travel in India. People are nice everywhere, and they come and help you. In worse situations there is an all India help line for Maruti. Other car companies might have the same too. Obviously having knowledge about the car will come in handy for sure.



-Milind Date



More about Mountain Driving in Part 3.

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