Thursday, May 24, 2007

Thunder Trails - Masinagudi

I am not much of a biker, though I own one of the most muscular 2 wheel beasts available in India – The Royal Enfield Thunderbird. I have in fact done a few thousand kilometers of riding in the past. It’s a real pleasure to ride out to the outskirts. When you’re cruising on long, smooth stretches of tarmac, laid back in the amply spacious saddle of a Thunderbird, it’s a pleasure to listen to the whizzing wind and the precisely timed rhythmic thumping of the brute’s 350cc engine. They collide in a passionate entanglement and create soul stirring music.

My most recent ride was from Bangalore to Masinagudi with a bunch of road crazy rubber burners from the Ad fraternity. There were six of us in total and 3 bikes. 2 Thunderbirds and 1 all time favourite Yamaha RX100. We decided to start out early and swore to meet up at town hall at 6.00 am for kick off. But, as is in most cases, we had a black goat in our midst who partied away the night before and landed up at the kick off point 3 hours late. So, in actuality, we hit the road to Masinagudi at 9.00 am on Saturday morning.

The road leading to Mysore is very well laid. Though, at the starting point we had a lot of problems with traffic. Being a weekend every motorist in the city seemed to be heading out. You can imagine how our frustration would have heightened and how much we would have cursed the black goat for delaying our departure. Anyway, by the time we got on to Mysore road, all traffic had cleared out and the only thing between us and Masinagudi was a long stretch of smooth 6 lane highway. The road is absolutely well laid and is a pleasure for biking. The only problems on this heavenly stretch were cabbies. They drive like maniacs, breaking every road rule.

We made a lot of pit-stops on the way and hence our journey was longer than estimated. Nevertheless, we were in it for the pleasure of the ride and enjoyed it thoroughly. Our first halt was Café Coffee Day on Mysore road were we had a leisurely brunch. Next stop was for beer and refreshments on a roadside dabha before hitting Gundalpet. From thereon we only made minor stops to empty our bladders and to smoke. From Gundalpet we entered the Bandipur wildlife sanctuary. This part of the ride I thouroughly enjoyed. The road leading to Bandipur was the worst stretch we had to deal with. There are more potholes than road. But once you reach Bandipur the roads become tamer. The highlight of riding through Bandipur is that you are actually riding through pristine forest. To the right and left of the road you will see thick forest. I was lucky to come upon wild elephants while riding through. I also caught fleeting glimpses of deer and monkeys. The ride through Bandipur took us to Mudhumallai.

Mudhumallai falls into Tamil Nadu limits, hence we had actually done a cross border ride. The ride through Mudhumalai brought us face to face with more tourists. The place was brimming with people. It looked like the forest housed more people than animals. We stopped here for supplies (read booze), then proceeded on to our camping site.

We stayed in tents in a small, well maintained resort called Jungle hut – one of the oldest and most well maintained resorts in Masinagudi. It’s owned by the Mathias family. Jungle Hut is set up on a small clearing in the forest at the foothills of the Nilgiris. The place even has a nice little swimming pool to cool off in during the daytime. The food is absolutely delicious. For more details on Jungle Hut click the link.

We arrived at Jungle Hut at about 5.20 pm, exhausted and famished. We quickly ransacked what was left of the yummy lunch buffet and headed off to check the tents. Once in the tents we unpacked our gear and headed off to wade in the pool. The water was too inviting for us to avoid. As the day grew darker, we settled around one of the tents for a yakaroo session and a couple of drinks. It was loads of fun sitting there in a clearing in the forest just talking and drinking. We occasionally spotted a few wild hare’s bobbing around from bush to bush. It was quite a mesmerizing experience. Beneath our feet there was wild grass and above us a clear star studded night. I even spotted a shooting star. After joking and lazing about there for a while we headed to the bar and then eventually to the buffet hall. Dinner was even more scrumptious than our late lunch. Done with dinner we headed back to out tents, sat around for a while and then headed off to our designated tents to kill the remaining hours of the night.

One little incident that happened before we settled down put some of us in the group at unrest. While we had been at the tents, talking and drinking, we had noticed this security guy come around the camp every 15 minutes, whipping the darkness with his bright torch beam. Out of curiosity we approached him and enquired about his strange ritual. To which he answered “Nothing to fear sir, it’s just a routine watch that we keep. Animals don’t come through the fence, except once in a while a few black bears do cross over to feast on leftovers.” That was very reassuring to hear.

The night was pleasantly cool. We slept like babies. But we couldn’t stretch our slumber hours beyond 8.00 am the next morning. Reluctantly each of us crawled out of our tents which by now had become little boiling pots. We came crawling out like ants running out of a flooding anthill. After we’d done our toilet routines we headed to the pool to chill off a little. A brief beer session and breakfast followed.

It was time to leave this Shangri-La and head back to the concrete jungle. We made better time on the road on our return. The ride through Bandipur fascinated me again. On the whole, the ride back was quite pleasant and leisurely. We stopped outside Mysore at a place called ‘Fishland’ for late lunch. The food was mouthwatering. We devoured some ‘Neer Dosas’, ‘Crab Fry’ and ‘Prawn Curry’. After that it was an almost not stop ride to Bangalore. We reached around 10.30 pm and headed our own ways.

It was an awesome experience for me, riding into the jungle with fellow biking enthusiasts, experiencing the thrills of the road and coming face to face with the wild. Masinagudi is a wonderful weekend getaway about 240Kms from Bangalore. I’d love to do the trip again. But this time around I’d like to do a road trip till Bandipur and then a trek from there to Ooty, which I heard is an awesome experience. I hope at least this time we’ll have a couple of women in the group.
For more pictures click link.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Under Ki Baat 2

Some time back I had posted a blog about how careless and tasteless people are when it comes to their undergarments. In case you haven’t read it yet, here’s a quick link Under Ki Baat. I’d like to show you a comment I got on that blog.

Manish said...
bang on...i handle an under garment client ... any thots on how we can make the men and women more conscious about their under ke brands:-)

I had no answer to his question then. I had just gone out and raised an issue to which I had no solution at all. But recently I came across an ad on TV that set me thinking. It was bold, it was quite wild, the brand wasn’t a very popular one but after the Ad I am pretty sure it’s being talked about by a lot of people. In fact, the other day a colleague of mine had sent me a link to the worst Ads poll by NDTV. To my surprise this undergarment brand’s Ad was one of them. When quizzed about it, the public reacted or rather acted out in genuine horror and labeled the Ad vulgar. Come on people, this is the land of the Kamasutra. What’s the harm in talking about a little sex? The Ad in question here is ‘Amul Macho’. The tagline says ‘crafted for fantasies’. If you haven’t had a chance to feast your eyes on this latest 30 second thriller, then here’s a gist of what it’s all about. This interesting post has been written by a true fan of the Ad TVC Hots & Nots.

Personally I think this is one of the most interesting ads that I’ve seen till date. Maybe it’s corny, but it does its job. I am sure that if you’ve seen it once, you’ll never forget it or the brand ever. That anyways is besides the point that I am trying to make here. I am not here to talk about what makes effective advertising. I am not here to tell you what works for a brand. I am here to tell you that it’s about time someone raised the standards when it comes to undergarments. Undergarments are just as important as any other piece of cloth on your body. Thus, I believe that a good label on an undergarment is essential. That’s exactly what this Ad does for me. The way I read the message in this ad, undergarments are a major turn on for the opposite sex. Hence it is utterly important that you choose them as carefully as you would choose your jeans.

We’ve come a long way from the days when our forefathers used torn off pieces of cloth to make ‘langotis’. We live in a world were there is no dearth of fashionable and chic undergarment labels. Even so we undertake that once in a year or twice in a year trip to a wholesale market like Tirpur to buy undergarments in bulk. Why? Why do people still think it’s a crime to spend a couple of extra bucks on a good brand of underwear? What’s with this whole mentality?

The ‘Amul Macho’ Ad has finally spoken up and stirred up a storm. Its high time more undergarment brands started doing a bit of bold advertising.

After pondering Manish’s question for some time, I had closely scrutinized several undergarment TVC’s. The segment is still very much in the low involvement purchase category. In actuality it has to be high involvement. I think Ads like ‘Amul Macho’ (of course this ad is not for the metro male), and in the recent past, VIP (where a flimsy pantie flys off to join a VIP Frenchie on the clothes line) and Hanez (Tagless comfort) are good examples of how we can raise the standards in this category.

Taking a poke at people, black humour, sexual humour and hints, even downright nastiness are things that I really think can work for this category. We need to use bolder means to create awareness in this segment. Yesterday was all about being macho, today is all about being sexy and desired. A self aware male or female would always dress sexy outside and inside. So, I say we’ve got to make people self aware about their sexuality. That’s how I think we can make people more conscious and careful about the choice of their under ke brands. India Search