Issue with travel bug & middle class is, its not easy to balance the expenses that easily to manage multiple journeys at short durations but this time I was to make an exception. Its not been long to the journey to Manali and I was already itching to another journey to hills.
Month of August since last many years been unique to set continuous holidays for professionals and usually the time when its hard to avoid the temptation to go out. I guess half of Delhi goes empty from professional considering the number of options around Delhi to go out. This years these been four days means it was hard to sit back home.
Before buying car in 2012, my first long car journey to any tourist destination was Nainital only with Sister-In-Law & her husband & daughter. That was the first time when I experienced the fun of travelling long distances in car & being on your own to decide the schedule than being dependent on Trains etc. In that impromptu journey, we didn’t even had hotels booked in advance despite of being aware of unprecedented rush. Those rains many waterfall at every 10km distance in hills, thrill of greenery all around & top of that I wasn’t on driving seat either .
That time, Pankaj (Sister-In-Law’s Husband, couldn’t find English word for the relation yet) was superman driving through those twists & turns and Hyundai i10 best suitable car to our need for such tours as I was coming from driving bike for last full decade. During the majority of journey, I kept on thinking that when would I be able to drive in hills this way confidently.
Later on, after buying own car, I gradually raised the bar by first to Jaipur from Faridabad, then Mussorie from Faridabad and last Manali from Delhi but those imprints of driving in Nainital Hills during Monsoon refused to die down. It was the time to take the challenge heads on, by choosing exactly the same time, same season, to drive to Nainital from the same place, only missing variable was absence of partners in crime and we had to go for the journey alone means me, wife and kiddo. Same time it was customary to write about the experiences of the last journey before overwriting them in coming weeks, so I finished the post about Nainital journey 2011 based on photos and memories available of that time in my mind.
After writing about my recent 600+ kms self drive trip to Manali and the first hill drive of mine, I felt it would be gross injustice if don’t write down my experiences from the most beautiful journey of mine on hills even though I wasn’t on the driving seat back then. Today I feel I should have written about my Nainital visit, which left a spark in me to come back to hills by self vehicle again and again. But its never late to correct the mistakes. This article would try to revisit those memories and beautiful weather of that time…
Its often been said that “The plans for best journeys often happen to be impromptu than being long on preparation side”. Something like the same was the case with the Nainital visit. Before that particular journey, only public transport been the enabler for us for journey as bike was never suitable for longer distances considering law & order situations in India. But this time, as sister-in-law had a car and was living in Gurgaon (40kms away), a plan for a short trip on biggest holiday for professional class (mid of august when one festival gets clubbed with weekend & Independence day) in recent years was hatched between two sisters. Despite of plans, it kept on being flip-flopped till last day and when we left from Faridabad that particular day, then we didn’t even had bookings of any hotel in Nainital or around.
Nowadays, when I start for a long journey, then I make a point of leaving the house as early morning as possible, but as I said, that particular journey was against any rulebook. Sister-In-law arrived at our place by some 0730 hrs and despite of all efforts, we were on course of journey (after getting tank & tires filled) by 0845 hrs only, completely unaware of what awaits ahead on roads….
As I didn’t knew driving then, so the burden was all over poor Pankaj and it would have taken a lot of toll to just come out of city on a day when almost entire city was looking like going for the route on vacation. We took the first break at an unknown place to wash our faces etc by 1045 hrs and covering even first 100kms had taken more than 4 hrs and a gigantic jam greeted us over Garmukteshwar due to narrow bridge which was catering both side traffic coming towards it from 4 lanes highway.
Last travelogue of mine was about the longest trip of mine in which I referred about the first hill drive of mine which was Dehradun-Mussorie from Faridabad, I guess I should detail that trip as well for Readers.
Till that time, I haven’t had any experience of hill driving even when I wanted to, having my first long car journey memories from Nainital 2011 with sister-in-law family. I had to choose that which place would be safer to drive on hills and would be within roughly 300 km radius from Delhi/ NCR. I zeroed in for Dehradun – Mussorie, not because of any blogs or recommendations but only because of the fact that I had an office branch in Dehradun. The initial plan was to drive up to Dehradun, till where it was supposed to be driving in plains and then to decide from there for Mussorie, if was doable.
But all of that was a plan, what if I face any trouble en-route? I got that covered with two of the friends who got along with me (though none of them knew how to drive but even then its better to have helping hands in case you need one). The date chosen was around our wedding anniversary which was January 26 and the period when we travelled was January 25-27, 2014.
When you make a plan for any trip, especially when its first of its kind then its hard to wait for the moment and same was for me. After counting of days, finally the day had come and learned from earlier mistakes, this time, I took a fine sleep before rising up early. I along with wife and kiddo, who was just one and half years old left the house in Faridabad by 0430 hrs though waiting for other two participants made us a little back on the schedule but I guess we were ready to move out of Delhi by some 0530 hrs or so.
Early morning helps you to cut through from the city traffic but looks like it wasn’t enough with that particular route with so many trucks in the way, but still we managed to reach till Muffarnagar by 0745 hrs and first stop was Vaishali Vaishno Punjabi Dhaba. That would be a distance of some 130 kms in roughly 2 hrs & 15 mins, which must be called an achievement considering the kind of foggy weather, I was to face in the way. We must have spent roughly 15-20 mins there for tea etc and then drove ahead.
When you are reviewing an entirely new product about which you never knew anything before, nor you would have reviewed any sister product of it to understand part of things, then it becomes absolute necessary to give it undivided attention and comparatively longer period of use to understand the bottlenecks & possible issues that may start nagging over time. Because such issues can never been checked during two three weeks period as product remains comparatively new.
I should thank Gionee on this part that they allowed me to retain the unit for a longer while to understand it and to put it in real world use (I kind of forgotten that it’s a review unit and sure gonna miss it hard as it became part of life).
I remember the time when I was to review a keypad phone while my own phones been all touch phones. During entire period of review, I restricted myself to use the touch phone to feel the essence of living with that particular keypad phone. Same was the right thing to do when it was about an entirely new brand.
So how did Gionee Elife S5.5, which is sure a marvel on hardware front and head turner wherever I go, fared on software front? Did it performed at par with iPhone 5S or Nexus 4 which I had? Does it produce images worthy of 13MP camera? Does the battery sails through day? Does the glassy build survives in long run?
A number of questions which I intend to answer in the rest part of blog….
Brother in Paris, one Sister-In-Law in Disney Land Miami with family and another been to Goa recently, Parents in Haridwar Camp, one colleague going to Srinagar… it looked like almost everyone around was roaming one place or another during the summer except me sitting back and planning for the longest self driving trip of mine till date, from Delhi to Manali (roughly 600 km one side).
Thing with we tech savvy people is, we overload ourselves with information on the routes, places etc months, weeks before the actual date comes and I wasn’t different either. It was just two years before, when I started learning to drive the car for the first time and bought one for self.
You can imagine that how big leap forward it was within two years that once a hesitant learning driver now tempting to drive on one of the toughest route leading to Rohtang (though that didn’t happen at the end as I got the cab on reasonable fares & decided not to take any risk). But it wasn’t sudden but gradual step by step evolvement by driving roughly 70 km/ day in this while.
After nine months of buying the car, the first big journey of mine was to Jaipur from Delhi at around March 29, 2013 and then next big journey was to Vrindavan by November 30, 2013 covering Taj Expressway at peak speed. Then the main confidence building journey was drive to Dehradun-Mussorie-Kempty Falls by January 26, 2014. In short, I was prepared.
Yes! Its again been long, since when I wrote last time, but I hope to make it up again with a detailed review of the product, about which I talked out in last blog post, the slimmest phone in the world right now, Gionee Elife S5.5. Slimness is obvious introduction, but trust me, this review would make you learn really a lot about the product and slimness would be just a little part of that.
Let’s know the brand first….
Brand Gionee: Preface
If we look at landscape of phones or more precisely smartphones, then sometimes it looks literally unbelievable that what has happened within less than a decade. We seen how less relevant conventional calls and messaging have gone in last decade, we seen how outdated non-touch phones became in a short period of time and we seen once towering personality of phones, the Nokia, going out from even top three manufacturers from once 80% market share. Same happened around prices of smartphones, which risen up with unbelievable rise in smartphone specs and crossed even cost\ capabilities of desktops even.
In high priced game of HTC, Samsung, Apple etc, players like Micromax, Karbonn, Xolo etc also tried their bit, but even if some of their products succeeded a bit or offered a valid alternative, the difference between premium products and their products was always visible even by single look at product. But then, Gionee entered into the market. Trust me, you need to read further and see this product in action to know why I feel a strong endorsement for this particular product. It definitely helped me in enlightening myself about the new players, the bright future ahead and I expect it would leave the same effect on you as well, that never write anything off, the landscape has changed in past and can change again.
Before starting the review, one should have a look at my earlier two posts 1 & 2 to have an idea about the company and why it galvanizes hope even in early interactions. This is a company, who entered in a market where “china” was literally synonym with duplicate, mediocre, unreliable etc (Might not be true for all in reality but the common perception) and rather than bending own ways to handle the market perception like many other competitors, decided to take it heads upon over itself to change the entire landscape.
Be it kind of products finishing/ logo etc, be it bold & unprecedented market strategies, be it kind of blogger interactions, be in unique Tier 1 retail relations, Gionee seems to be combining all the good parts of their competitors like Nokia, Apple, Samsung and Huawei into one and its definitely seem to be getting it right till now at least.
It might have been just few hours of landing on the land of beaches, the royal treatment had made us forget about the real purpose of the event that was the launch of the world’s slimmest mobile phone. Trust me from hospitality to dinner\ lunches\ breakfasts to raw energy to the aura, we had seen nothing in slim format till that moment. Everything was that fat and royal.
We had already taken breakfasts so it was time to join the hall for the launch event.
As the invited guests were in two categories, media and retailers, so we were given the badges accordingly and also given pedometers to signify the health conscious slim model. The sitting arrangements also placed the bloggers and media guys in the front seats while retailers were given a backseat.
We played around the pedometer a little as well and @Kalpik came out as a winner who was able to reset the pedometer successfully while most of us been struggling with that part.