Friday, February 20, 2015

Long Distance Car Drive in India (Self Driven), Vital Tips.

When I commenced writing this post a thought came to me, why would some one believe in the tips I give, unless I can prove that I have credentials to back them up. In order to ensure that the readers have faith in what I say, I decided to list some of the journeys I did, driving my car and with my family being my co passengers. They are:-

1998 - Mumbai - Shirdi - Aurangabad and Back - Premier Padmini Non AC - 708 km
1999 - Mumbai - Pandharpur, Hyderabad, Vijaywada - Visakhapatnam- 1354 km
2000 - Delhi - Nainital - Ranikhet & Back- 696 km
2002 - Delhi - Bikaner - Jaisalmer - Jodhpur - Jaipur - Delhi- 1656 km
2003 - Delhi - Haridwar - Dehradun - Musoori  - Delhi- 585 km
2007 Jamnagar -Bhuj - Lakhpat - Koteshwar - Naliya - Jamnagar - Tata Indigo AC -  983 km
2008 Jamnagar - Okha - Porbander - Somnath _diu - Junagarh - Jamnagar- 793 km
2010 Hyderabad - Nagpur - Pench - Jabalpur - Indore - Jalgaon - Shegaon - Hyderabad - 2259 km
2014 Delhi - Naseerabad - Chittaur Garh - Udaipur - Eklingaji - Nathdwara - Mount Abu - Abu Road - Ambaji - Pushkar - Delhi - 1581 km

Well, the list of journeys is becoming boring. Let me get to the Tips. I also must acknowledge that some of them have come from some one I had met way back in 1998, who had traveled from Jammu to Quilon (Spelling may not be right) in Kerala in his Maruti car along with his family.

Let me start.


- Make a detailed programme day wise for the whole trip

- Pack your bags according to the programme (wildlife sanctuary needs different cloths and ranikhet different though they may be close eg Corbet). Don't forget playing cards etc.

- Take individual medications (for whosoever has such need).

- Study paper or e-maps and familiarize  yourself with the route.

- Organise your Binoculars, Camera, writing Pad, pen etc.

- Update and stock a First Aid Kit.

- Don't forget Sunglasses and Caps.

- Keep emergency eatables -Dry fruits and some Dry food, etc (Biscuits, Namkeen, etc).

- Stock of Drinking water, may be six bottles of drinking water to be replenished as required.

- Some blankets etc if children are small, they can sleep on the rear seat.

- Pick up some luggage which fits in between front and back seat to convert back seat into a small bed (applicable for people with small children).

Preparing the Car

- Get Car service done, if due.

- Remove things which would not be required on the trip from boot as well as the car.

- Check Tyre state and get the pressure checked in all tyres including spare tyre.On long drives, it is recommended to keep tyre pressure two points below recommended by car manufacturer for avoiding Tyre bursts on highways and expressways (when Tata recommends 27 PSI in for all tyres of indigo, most taxi people keep 40 PSI, a sure recipe for tyre burst).

- Check Lamps, Engine Oil, Brake Oil, water in Windshield washer tank and coolant in coolant tank.

- Check documents (RC Book or Certificate, Insurance Papers, PUC and On Road Assistance papers). Put xerox copies in the car dash board and original in your wife's purse. Also put a spare car key in her purse.

- Check tools (Jack, must check that it works,  spanner for wheel, Tow sling if you have one, Battery Jumper wire set to start car from other cars battery, battery operated compressor, etc).

- Keep a five liter empty oil or some other container in the boot for picking up emergency fuel, if needed.

- If  using navigator on mobile, better to buy and fit a mobile holder on front windshield. There are GPS navigator apps available for smart phones which are useful if net connectivity is not available on highway, down load and install (I use Navfree but that is my choice, you should use what you like).

Loading the Car

- Load systematically with First in - Last out principle.

- If you have Director type chairs (folding ones). tent, etc keep them as well, if opportunity presents you can sit and have packed meal etc on the road side.

- Put some eatables and water in the cabin and and balance in the boot.

- Paste a stick pad chit on the Dash board Giving Name, age, medical issues if any and blood group of all he passengers. Also write a emergency contact number on this chit (don't put emergency contact number on rear windshield or front windshield, it can be misused).

- Have your selected music CDs or music on the pen drive (if your car deck can take inputs from USB drive, my 8 year old set does not) available in the car. FM stations are available only for a short distance from from major cities.

- You seem all set, Happy driving.

During Driving

- Maintain steady speed and enjoy the drive.

- Keep yourself hydrated and take as many breaks as required. Don't make it a race on the highway or race against time (I have done so and let me tell you, there is not much fun, you miss so much of scenery on the road). One can fell drowsy post meals or during driving. If that happens don't continue driving, stop and rest

- Keep at least one hr spare for every 100 km of drive in your planning and utilise it even if you are making good speed of advance on the road.

- Keep a sharp lookout on the vehicles behind you (needless to say, vehicles ahead are anyway in your vision) for detecting, if some unwanted elements are following you (they are good at detecting cars form out side of the area). This is not to get scared, just be mindful and if being trailed, take help of nearest police station or post.

- Some people enjoy night driving but I don't and I also do not recommend night driving, one may end up doing it when there is no alternative but that should be exception. Most accidents on the road happen during dawn and dusk (eyes take time to adjust to changing light) and in the night due to driver fatigue (your or others) or sleep or both.

- Agitations, Bandhs and Hartals are common in India. When a break is taken on some Dhaba or tea stall, generally inquire about road conditions and general conditions ahead. Must also hear the local FM station news which could be a good source of information, also of local events happening at your destination.

- Keep someone reliable informed of your full day by day programme of travel before hand including start place and time, end place and likely time, etc and set up a time after the end of day's journey where you should call up that person and confirm safe completion of the journey. 

- Have a safety time, if you don't call up by that time, that person must call you back and check.

- Have fun on the road.

Post Drive (for that day)

- Check car including all the tyres. 

- See that you have parked it safely and hand brake is applied.

- See that lights are switched off (else battery would drain out).

- See that car is locked safely.

- Clean the car in the morning including Windscreens.

- Check Engine and other oil levels.

- Replenish wind shield washer tank. 

- Happy second and other days of driving. Have fun.

Post Journey

Must share your experience with others (blogging is a good medium for that purpose).

Hope readers find it useful. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

TraveLore: Roopkund - A journey beyond imagination - Preeti's Blog

TraveLore: Roopkund - A journey beyond imagination: Not all those who wander are lost – J.R.R. Tolkein As we walk over the lush meadows of Ali Bugyal (refer picture above) with no s...

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Coast Guard and the Burning Boat, A Non-existing Controversy Blown-up

A non existing controversy has been blown up by The Indian Express using some talk, at a CG function, of a CG DIG, about this boat. I am getting convinced that there is a axe being grinded some where by some one, may not be IE itself.

I was listening to The Indian Express correspondence speaking to channel News X. He stated that the CG ship was 2 km away, why would terrorists blow themselves up. May be he thinks that CG ship is a foot patrolmen of the police who was two Km away and the thief has all the time to escape. Only in that case his comment has some weight, else this statement is laughable. First of all two km for a warship is hardly any distance to cover. Also two km looks to put the boat into well within the capability of the ship's weapons.
It looks to me that he has never sailed on a warship and experienced the fire power of a warship, even if only of CG.

I am given to understand OTO Malera 76 mm is the main gun on CG Ships. I checked up wikipedia at The gun is fully automatic, fires 120 rounds per minutes (two rounds per second) and has a effective range of 8 km (max range 16 km). With 8 km effective range, is a boat at 2 km required to be scared or not? Let us imagine standing at the other end within the effective range of this gun and imagine it firing at us. Any one would be scared. The IE correspondent stated that why would the terrorists blow themselves, they would put up a fight. Fight with a warship of CG with only the kind of arms terrorists seem to carry?  It is like a street urchin fighting a WWF wrestler. It can happen only in fantasy.

At two km, the CG ship, even if doing a speed of 10 knot (18 km per hr), would cover that two km in less then 10 min. That is yet another reason to get scared and I hope CG ships have better speed. Finally, if what the CG officer has claimed is true, the nation should be extra proud that our forces are not only on guard, they are also very accurate in using their weapons.

How is there so much of doubt being inducted in a perfect interception case based on firmed up intelligence inputs? I guess dreaming of a boat with its name and shape when she is leaving a foreign port and not an Indian port is impossible for anyone without having mystical powers. Only if someone on the foreign shores, having a score to settle with the owner of this boat, ends up giving intentionally wrong input, then a Innocent boat will be caught up in the action but we still can't blame CG for it.

The media is gaga over why there is not more transparency in defense matters. This is an operational matter, do we want transparency and what do the media intends to do with the inputs it gets, if transparency does com-in in operational matters. I can only say that the defence of the nation is not an issue similar to funding of political parties where transparency is desired.

I have pasted link to  my  blog on this matter when similar issues were raised earlier. To me it still looks relevant:-;postID=5052141184469818725;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=10;src=postname 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Our Police Deserve more Respect from us.

First it was Charlie Hebdo shoot out in France. Charlie magazine has been a target of Islamic terrorist for many years. Guarding any person, organisation or area, round the clock, day after day is a difficult task. Police forces have to be alert 24x7 while the initiative of when to act and timing of such act are the great advantage the attackers have. Despite difficulties, since it was a known target, the protection provided could have been better. In that case, some gunmen come, shoot at will and get away may not be surprising for a random target, however, when the attack on a target known to have been marked,  goes through with impunity, becomes a cause of worry.

Similarly, a cafe in Copenhagen hosting a free speech event has been attacked. It was known that the event will have discussions on free speech in some of the religions. Lars Vilks, a Danish cartoonist already under threat was present. The value of attack on such object for attackers is high because it gets them what the crave for  the most, instant and global publicity. Marginal credit is due to Danish police and intelligence who had taken some measures and were guarding the venue and did fire back,  unlike in Paris attack. But the fact of the matter is, gunman (as it is being told that it was one armed person who carried out the attack not two as was thought initially) could reach the venue unhindered and could execute the attack shows the inadequacy of the preparations by the guarding forces.

On the other hand, India has faced terrorists of all hues for many years. Sometimes, who is or what is on target of one of the fringe group, becomes known through intelligence but most times the attacks are without warning. Also the sheer array of lunatic groups acting against our country is an added difficulty.

Indian police have managed the security and protection well so far. That too with police modernisation not progressing, manpower shortages and too many guarding assignment (it can be acutely evident in Delhi).

They seem to sanitise and hold a area which contains probable target. They seem to be concentrating on stopping the attacker well away from his objective. Extremely difficult task but they are at it and have managed it well.

It does inconvenience all of us. We (including me)  grumble about it. Excessive searches of attendees of an event,  road closures and Bandobast, etc. Well we grumble but if something happens and attack goes in, we also are vocal in criticising them.

Let us, for a change and against our ingrained beliefs which may be right or wrong, accept that our Police forces, despite severe limitations, are doing a far better job compared to many other forces across the world including forces of advance countries. We may continue grumbling but let us also be truthful and give credit to our police forces, who, with limitations and with probably one hand tied behind their back for various reasons, are doing a very great job.

They deserve much more Respect (capitalization is intentional) then we accord to them,  at least on this issue. Let us recognize this fact and look at the man on bandobast or frisking duty, closed up for hours in the heat or cold, with the due respect,  without any prejudice  to our right to indulge in our national pass time,  'grumbling'. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Congress, BSP loose vote share, BJP looses election, very interesting cause and effect

AAP has won frightening majority. It is their moment of glory and rightfully so. The celebrations on their part is in order.

However, as a student of statistics (and I hated the subject for many years in the early career of mine) I decided to do some math.

A simple analysis of a very simple data made me give the unusual title to my blog. Let me show you that data. See the table below (rounded off to nearest 0.5 value) :-

Party      vote share    vote share  Change
                 2013              2015
BJP             33%              32%              - 1%
Cong          25%              10%              - 15%
BSP            5.5%             1.5%             - 4%
Total loss                                              20%
AAP           29%               54%             +24.5%

Not counting the vote share loss of independents and smaller parties which could amount to the difference between Cong + BSP loss (and also 1% loss of BJP) and AAPs gain, the data is clear, AAP has gained on the cost of loss of Voter confidence on these two parties.

My Inferences are as under:-

- AAP has gained votes not on the cost of BJP but it is own the cost of Cong and BSP.

- BJP's loyal Voter has stayed with it.

- AAP's landslide victory is real but may not be due  to unpopularity of BJP. It is primarily due to irrelevance of Cong and BSP (63 of Cong candidates have lost their deposits, imagine the residual relevance of a national party).

- Despite having their vote share intact even BJP looks irrelevant as 32% vote share has translated in to just 3 out of 70 seats.

- BJP needs to follow basic principle of marketing, retain old loyal voters but garner newer voters rapidly, unless it can device division of votes among other parties.

- Sheer size of AAPs Legislature party indicates chances of management challenges.

Many other possibilities may be there but as of now these inferences look adequate.

Monday, February 9, 2015

AAP at helm in Delhi. They need to deliver

I am at it again. AAP has won Delhi. It is not simple win,  it is a win of a magnitude which has not only surpassed all exit polls (so the pollsters need to refine their model), it actually surpassed (and may be surprised) the AAPs own estimate.

While the euphoria in AAP camp is justified and would last for some time, the magnitude of win should really worry AAP. The faith of people is absolute and thus any failure on AAPs part will be beyond redemption.

Promises can capture people's imigation, particularly those who are downtrodden and desperate. They put faith in those promises and vote. Generally promises are forgotten soon. But in this case if that happens, it is the masses that would be crestfallen.

Beyond euphoria is what lies for AAP. It is the deliverance on promises like 50 % fall in electrical n water bills,  Jan Lokmat etc.

If they don't the frail heart of millions of poor who put faith on AAP will be broken. AAP,  please walk the talk,  please, please for the sake of those who have put everything in what you promised. Amen.

PS -  With the decimation of BJP in Delhi, it is time for them also to walk the talk at centre if they have to gain relevance. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Bed Roll for RAC passengers in the Indian Railway - Important Information

A few months ago I boarded a  train along with my wife as RAC passengers (I think Mumbai - New Delhi Rajdhani Exp) in one of the AC class. After some time in the journey we started feeling cold in that compartment due to ACs chilling effect.When I contacted the coach attendant who is to disburse the Bed rolls (no more rolls any way, remember the bedding our families carried many years ago on trains, the word bed roll originates from that bedding) for a bed roll, he refused saying "Mujhe RAC passengers ko Bed Roll dene ka Aadesh Nahi hai, मुझे आर ए सी पैसिंजर को बेडरोल देने का आदेश नही है ). It was a funny situation where we are felling cold and were not able to get blankets from him.

After some time, we got our berths and got the bedding but I felt that those who don't get their berth confirmed and remain RAC, what must be happening to them. I choose to take recourse to RTI and filled a RTI with Railway Board on this matter. I had to do that because what happened to me was in 2014 and to my horror I found a Railway Board order of 23 Sep 2009 which mandated issue of a Blanket and a bedsheets to RAC passengers in all AC classes except AC Chair Car where provision of Bed Roll does not exist. Hence I wanted to get it from horse's mouth, so to say, and the latest.

Thankfully RTI power worked (may be normal query might have also worked, I don't know). Railway board has replied and affirmed what has already been stated in the Railway Board order of 2009.

I am putting RTI reply of the Railway Board and the link to the circular of Railway board to that effect in this blog for the benefit of RAC passengers so that they have a comfortable journey even if they do not get a berth. It may be worthwhile to keep at least the copy of Railway Board circular if the traveler is a RAC passenger.

Link to Railway Board circular

Happy journey to all RAC (and could not be confirmed) passengers.