As it generally happens with planning a team outing, for things to fall into place, one would have to move heaven and earth, along with a few side quests on the way. This one, for a change, was pretty straightforward though. What better way to bond with the team than a road trip, right? And since we had the Force Urbania at our disposal, it just made all the more sense, so we huddled up the boys, grabbed our bags and set out for Udvada via Daman, because, why not?
The day started pretty early for Kaizad and Kurt as they were picked up from Pune well before daybreak. I was told that Kaizad went right back to sleep right after he settled into his seat. Manaal got on at Panvel and then they came to pick up Tirth and myself from Thane. I spotted the Urbania peeking over the top of all the traffic all around it and quickly walked in its direction, because, for all I knew, I would reach it before it reached me. Now that we were all on board, we attempted to map out our trip in detail, so as to cover as much ground as we could on the trip.
We sat and discussed the proposed itinerary for as long as our varying attention spans allowed for (it wasn’t too long), after which everyone was back to doing their own thing. This was probably the result of not having Pablo and Kartik there to crack the whips and keep us in line, I mean, what was one to expect of a bunch of free-range clowns? Initially, though, the whole idea was to use this time together to sit and brainstorm ideas for our 25th Anniversary issue, as well as story ideas for all the new upcoming monthly themes.
Before long we had arrived at a mandatory stop for every biker, Hotel Ahura, one of the iconic waypoints along the Mumbai-Gujarat highway. Stopping there for a more than welcome breakfast of keema, akuri and pav, we were all pretty appalled when Tirth decided to go ahead and order himself a dosa. Well, to each their own I guess (and truthfully speaking, it wasn’t like I didn’t order myself a lassi everywhere I went). Once we were done with breakfast, we were on our way once again, leisurely gazing at the sparse traffic that we were a part of, for once, not in a tearing hurry to get anywhere.
The highway wasn’t particularly exciting, save for the few exotic sightings here and there (make of this what you will), and with the Urbania, the journey felt quite comfortable. It wasn’t too long before we got off the main highway and made our entrance into the sleepy little town of Udvada. The towering arches that stood there to welcome travellers were something of an elegant premise of what awaited us. We got a brief history lesson on how the town came to be, from our in-house bawa, Kaizad, after which he made a beeline for the Iranshah Atash Behram to offer his prayers.
We then went to the Zoroastrian Museum, which wasn’t too far away, but as luck would have it, the place was shut. The board outside stated in bold letters, ‘Tuesday Closed’, and we stood there scratching our heads, wondering what to do next. Having decided to roam around the town a little, with the intention of spotting a bawaji polishing his car so that we could start up a conversation, we went around for a while, but again, it didn’t seem to be our day. The streets were quite empty, and so were most of the houses, almost like they heard ahead of our arrival and instantly went into hiding. Ouch. The only consolation was the terrific homemade ice cream that we chanced upon and unabashedly wolfed down.
Anyway, we then decided to head on to Daman, where we were to spend the night, and explore the quaint little town before nightfall. We headed to the Fort of Daman, where the Urbania seemed to draw a lot of attention and turn quite a few heads. Truthfully speaking, travelling like this does tend to get to our heads, like a feeling of unwarranted importance. Quite the ego booster, I say! Getting back to our adventures, we explored the French-town-esque setting, after which we headed to the lighthouse, which, upon our arrival seemed to be crawling with visitors. Managing to find a spot to sit down and take in the sights and sounds of the place, we sat still and watched the sun slowly drop down into the horizon.
With a long day of travel and quite a bit of exploring completed, we made our way towards the hotel and freshened up before reconvening to discuss a few ideas for the upcoming Anniversary Special issues. Still, hungry stomachs don’t really enable productive brainstorming, so we decided to put a pin in the discussion while we fuelled up. A hearty meal was followed by lengthy discussions on topics across the spectrum of things with engines and wheels. No better way for a bunch of auto journos to bond, eh? As the day came to a close, it seemed to me as though it were a bunch of childhood buddies on a trip rather than just a group of people who work together. The essence of Motoring had infiltrated us all.
The next day started early for us, as we made our way to the black sand beach, quite the picturesque setting to finish our discussions and planning for the whole year of excitement we had in front of us. Not long after, we retraced our steps back to Udvada, where this time around, we ran into quite a few residents who seemed pretty interested in the Urbania. Perfect! I struck up a conversation with the objective of understanding whether the Urbania could be a vehicle worthy of earning a spot in a bawaji’s garage. After a thorough inspection of the vehicle, they seemed to be open to the idea of owning one, especially for someone with a big family who would like to travel in style and comfort. Finally, validation!
Having achieved what we set out for, our band of zanies bundled back up into the Urbania and set a course homeward. Looking back upon the trip, maybe it was just what we needed to get the ball rolling to prepare for the new year ahead of us, filling us with enough enthusiasm to tackle just about anything. So better strap in and buckle up, because there’s a lot of exciting stuff that we have in store and the team is raring to go!