A HEXAbulous attitude!

Tata Hexa1Well, it feels very awkward to review a product of group going through upheaval. Even Tata Motors’ stock took a beating in last two days, although it wasn’t that sharp today as it was yesterday. Many things are being said and a lot among that might not be favourable for Tata motors in current scenario.

Rough roads for TATA Motors!

Tata Hexa8But our Hexa has a ‘rough road mode’ to steer one out of all types of pits & trenches in the way. So, will Hexa be a winner for TATA Motors? Well, that will be known only in coming months. But as far as reviews are concerned, Hexa is certainly capable of keeping the mood upbeat in the TATA camp.

It was a big testing last week for Hexa in Hyderabad. From media to bloggers to dealers- everybody had chance to feel this latest arrival in the TATA motors stable. Hexa was well anticipated. It was there in Geneva Motor Show last year as a concept and in the our Auto Expo early this years the product. Hence the interest already generated, the real reviewers (even unreal like me) were eagerly waiting to be on the driver’s seat. That happened finally this October. For me, personally it was the second straight year of reviewing a new Tata car- I can say it two in two courtesy Tata Motors and Indiblogger. First Tiago (Zica at the time of test drive) and now Hexa. But both belong to quite different segments. During Tiago’s launch Tata motors was beaming with recently happened brand promotion deal with none other than Lionel Messi. Hence the whole atmosphere reeled around that. May be Tata needed that energy to enter a tough segment of mid-level hatchbacks. Hexa is quite different. But it is still a first for Tata.

Tata Hexa2Tata Motors has seen it all- best and worst of the market. They had a couple of disasters and a few hits as well. Main thing about Tata is that they never loose heart or drop their shoulders. They had always tried to expand their brand value, either through wide range of products or even acquisitions of other brands like JLR.

Tata Hexa3Hexa is the most premium car till date by Tata motors. And seriously, Tata has left no stone unturned in making this car to actually look like a superbly premium car good enough to attract the premium car buyers. Simply saying- it has got the looks, it has got the attitude and it has certainly got the features. Actually, Tata had that challenge to beat the historical assumption of the market that its cars might have the looks but they miss on finesse of premium cars. Hexa is out there to kill this theory and it might well succeed in this.

Tata Hexa4Hexa has that rich feel- inside and outside. It is feature loaded as Tata itself brands it. And it has lot to do with the various international collaborations that Tata has been doing off-late for its vehicles. Even the car designs are said to be the joint efforts of its all three international teams. We did see much of it in Tiago and trend has continued to Hexa in a lot improved manner. 10 speaker JBL System uses unique technology from Harman and believe me, the music inside the car is something to cherish for. For techno savvy premium users it also has a host of applications for various controls through its ConnetNext App suite. Hexa allows seamless integration of its apps with smartphones.

Tata Hexa5There is a lot more like touch screen infotainment, cruise control, leather seats, eight colour ambient mood lighting, 8-way adjustable driver’s seat, rear sun blinds, reverse parking camera. A lot of these features need more detailed assessment for the readers as how a beast with a 200mm clearance and 19 inch alloy wheels can be a perfect off-road travel partner and similar other things. There are many features which one might not find in other vehicles of this class or even class above.

Tata Hexa6Its about the basic things as of now- Hexa comes with a 2.2L Varicor400 diesel engine. This car comes with variants of 6 speed manual and automattic transmissions. For a person like me, who had rarely driven a automatic variant before, driving in the auto transmission variant was a lovely experience. It also come with super-drive modes- auto, comfort, dynamic and rough road— time to wear your attitude, it seems! A car in the premium segment has to be safe and Hexa comes with a lot in this too, such as  six airbags, ABS+EBD+ESP and Hill hold, hill descent & traction control.

Tata Hexa7Although this fact goes with every vehicle but Tata Hexa can be really used to suit your personality, whatever you are or whatever you wish to become on your drive. But Tata Hexa has as much comfort for the passenger, as it has the thrill for the driver. This wide and long car has six and seven seat variants. Boot space is not big enough but then foldable seats in the third and second rows and even the seat next to driver gives quite a handful options to adjust bigger things. We had two colours for test drives- dark blue and silver grey. There might be more colours later.

As it always happens, we tend to explore similarities and comparisons. In SUV/MUV segment we have seen many entrants off late and therefore Hexa draws a lot of thought in mind of reviewers. From calling it as an advance version of Tata Aria to compare it with Innova Crysta or XUV500 or Endeavour, many verdicts are out. But Tata itself has not placed it in any bracket so far as the prices have not been revealed. Bookings start from November this year (not too far) and first deliveries are scheduled in mid-January. Till then, we have some time to ride on our fabulous experiences. Catch you up with more very soon.

Travelling To Where Locals Go

Brussels-based city maps are conquering Europe.  Some tourists can make do with a selfie stick picture at Manneken Pis, but the younger and more alternative kind want to break through the tourist bubble. Where do you guys from Brussels go for free live shows? Where do you lunch? And should we be more careful now, with the attacks and all?

Brussels1The answer is on the USE-IT city map. It shows the way to metal at Magasin 4, lunch at the Albertina library and a coworking space in Molenbeek. “We’ve reached the point where Lonely Planet doesn’t do,” the map makers say. “Those guides are sparsely updated, and they lack those nice tips on how not to stand out as a tourist. For instance: don’t order a waffle with whipped cream and four kinds of fruit, because we Belgians don’t either. And perhaps a mitraillete is more of a Brussels dish than mussels with fries.”

Brussels2The Maps for Young Travellers were first created in Ghent, and since USE-IT moved to Brussels in 2008 (headquarters are at Galerie Ravenstein) the virus has started to spread all over Europe. By now, 41 cities have joined the network, and their number grows fast. USE-IT Brussels has an info desk too, where more than 20.000 visitors drop by per year. They get fresh advice from young Brussels volunteers about nightlife, or they go on a walking tour together along the Anderlecht supporters’ bars or the new genital graffiti. Everything but Manneken Pis.

Brussels3The USE-IT maps now also appear in an app for iOS. Still, the paper maps won’t fade out, not even when roaming costs go down. “Paper is still doing well for travellers. People want to get that overview over the whole city, and a small screen doesn’t suffice. Besides, they prefer to pull a paper map out of their pocket instead of an expensive phone,” says Nicolas Marichal, USE-IT’s editor in chief.

This week, all USE-IT initiatives from the whole of Europe are joining in Brussels for the 2016 European meeting, supported by visit.brussels. “This city will always remain the epicentre. Our info desk and our maps still serve as an inspiration to most startups in the rest of the continent. And we absolutely wanted to get everyone here again, even if only to show how this city has not become that infamous hellhole in March 2016,” Marichal concludes.

A thrill named Hexa

A new dawn!
A new dawn!

It is certainly going to create a sensation. It has got the looks and it has also got the attitude. It is going to interest a lot many thrill seekers. Tata Motors can expect to have rolled down a winner in Hexa. Well, still time for a detailed experience (some might call it a review), but till then here is a video to have a feel of this fantastic machine on wheels.

Sure to get some limelight
Sure to get some limelight

Watch the video carefully and listen to what expert from TATA says about this beast. It is feature loaded with many firsts in the segment. Watch how it uses the traction control to steer out the vehicle from pits as deep as 20 inches; how its sturdy body balances itself on a surface tilt of 23 degrees (unbelievable); and also how it manoeuvres itself to clear a surface as challenging as melting ice. It also comes with a unique ‘hill descend control’ feature to top those creepy steep hilly slopes. It has got many firsts in moods and modes- lot more to come and till then enjoy this video.

Disclaimer: The publication of this post just incidentally coincides with exit of Cyrus Mistry as chairman of TATA Sons. Nothing intentional.

Sheroes : A monumental zeal of human spirit!

Well, honestly it was always on cards while visiting Agra. Honestly also, the trip to Sheroes Hangout meant for us more than a stopover for a food to a restaurant. Also, because Sheroes symbolises the strength of the human spirit against all odds. We also needed to visit this place to realise the tough times we live in! For anybody coming to this place a restaurant run by women survivors of acid attacks is altogether a different experience. Therefore, I feel that for any tourist coming to Agra this place is a must-visit.


A visit to place like this make you more humble and perhaps more committed and strong. Its a great inspiration. Agra is said to be place for monument of love, but I have no doubt in saying that in Agra Sheroes hangout is actually the real monument of love and compassion. Sheroes is an initiative by Stop Acid Attacks campaign that was founded in New Delhi in 2013. As the idea of this space has evolved from a campaign for acid attack survivors, the ideas of beauty and importance of appearance in society remain the epicentre of discussions and programmes run from here. This is world’s first cafe chain run by female acid attack survivors.

A painting outside.
A painting outside.

Hence, at the helm of the Sheroes Hangout are the women who have fought back for life and survival through heinous chemical burns and are now on a course to define themselves. They are courageous fighters who walk with scars on their skins but not on spirits. They are the real heroes- ‘She Heroes’. There are five of them here- Dolly, Geeta, Rupa, Neetu and Ritu Saini, – all with their different stories and distinctive strengths which give countless others across country a hope to fight and live. They have got the confidence to show their disfigured faces in public but actually they are showing the mirror to the society, that how disfigured its face has become.

The intrinsic beauty
The intrinsic beauty

At Sheroes hangout empowerment of women is embodied in form of a readers’ cafe, an activism workshop, a community radio hub and a exhibit space where works crafted by Sheroes are on display. There are books on the shelf, that you can just pull and read, while you have your tea.

The power of self!
The power of self!

The new wave of feminism evolves at the hangout through critical issues that cripple women and devoid them of equal opportunities. Women here manage the counters, take the orders, serve food, and engage visitors in full delight with their heroic stories of resilience.


Coming to the place, it couldn’t have been better located, right on the main Fatehabad road which is hub of all the tourist activities in Agra and close to most of the hotels. Small but neat place. There is a terrace kitchen on the upper floor. Ambience is just perfect to reflect the story behind the restaurant. The women and support staff are brilliant and humble. Independent of everything else, the food we had that day was best we could have- honey chilli potato, noodles and cutlets with few rounds of tea. The restaurant serves snacks as well as full course meals.

Another unique thing about this place is the pay as you wish concept. No items in the menu are priced. At the end, you can pay whatever you think is the suitable amount. Few might not be comfortable with this, but it works well with the overall idea of the restaurant. Sheroes also has free wi-fi to remain connected while you get involved in books, coffees and hot discussions. Tourists from world over are coming here.

Since it started almost two years back, there had been numerous high-profile visits and various high-idea workshops here. Probably this society laced with hatred needs a lot more.

Sheroes7The women here also sell some merchandise and the income goes for the fight against acid attacks. There is a beautiful desktop calendar, T-shirts and dresses. Make sure to visit here next time you go to Agra. For all those, who are interested, Sheroes hangouts has now also come up at Lucknow.

Hi mate! Shall I join you for the meal?

Watch these two for minutes and you will feel how close these two creatures are to each other. The heron closely follows each step of the Blackbuck. But then, follow more closely and you will notice that heron walks so close to deer because when the blackbuck is walking while grazing it is disturbing the insects resting in the grass, which are forced to fly and then they become easy prey for the herons. How nature has created this cycle!


Well, this is Sikandara in Agra, which is mausoleum of one of the greatest kings Akbar, the third mughal emperor to rule India. I had already done a post on the blackbucks of Sikandara, sometime back after my last visit to Agra. But couldn’t resist doing one more after the most recent trip.


Sikandara has hundreds of blackbucks in the four developed quarters of gardens on the four sides of the tomb of about 24 acres each. Blackbucks have been kept here as this is a walled enclosure within the reigns of the Agra city itself. But once you are inside the mausoleum, it seems to be an entirely different world. There seems to be a perfect symphony of history, heritage and nature.


All the antelopes or the deers here are blackbucks- both male and female. Dark ones are the males and the light coloured are females. They have long ringed horns, resembling corkscrews. Forest areas of Bharatpur are not far from Agra and Sikandara is located right on the Yamuna riverbed with plenty of natural environment in its backyard.


There is no concrete evidence or document relating blackbucks to this place, but people here say that they have been here since beginning. There is also a story which says that Akbar had a very favourite elephant named ‘Hiran’ (which means deer in Hindi). Akbar was very remorseful when the elephant died. So he thought that these blackbucks (from deer family or ‘hiran’ in Hindi) will remind everybody of his beloved elephant as well. Since then these blackbucks were kept here in a protected environment where there is no predator around. Well, as we know that Akbar had himself designed his mausoleum

So have a look at these blackbucks (hirans) of Sikandara.

Besides blackbucks, Sikandara also has a lot of peacocks and parrots. Occasionally, many other birds will also come here to take refuge.


Reflecting the mighty himalayas : Photo of the Day

Reflecting the Himalayas in the Nubra valley of Ladakh. Ladakh is actually lot more than just Leh. The last permissible point in Nubra valley is Turtuk which is more than 200 kms away from Leh. But the highlight of the Nubra valley is Hunder sand dunes near Deskit. People go there for riding the double humped camels. Right close to dunes is the section of Karakoram wildlife sanctuary where you can see scenes like this. Marvellous. Isn’t it!


The dunes, the pool, the forest and the Himalayas! The stillness of water can make or break your photo!


Puja songs from Bengal gave Bollywood many superhit numbers!

Its that time of the year again, considered to be one of the most auspicious one as per hindu beliefs. Durga Puja is indeed the most important event of the year for the Bengalis. Mahalaya was celebrated on 30th September and it is Panchami today, when the six day Durga Puja celebrations actually start in Bengal.

Since it has been traditionally most important time of the year for the Bengalis, it is also the time when just before the Pujas musicians and artistes will release their albums. Such has been the lure of getting hit during the Puja that many singers will even perform during the Puja celebrations with their new releases. The songs released at the time of the Puja were often termed as Modern Bengali songs. Actually this tradition has been there for quite a long, with every leading Bengali music composer following the trend. This tradition was used with such a great effectiveness that Puja albums actually gave some of the biggest hits to Bengali music industry. Many of these were songs, which were released only as Puja albums and not used in any Bengali films. But then among these many of the hits from the Puja albums were then re-crafted and redrafted into the Bollywood into Hindi songs for films. This was also easier because at most of the times in last five decades of the past century, the Bollywood music scene was also dominated by the Bengali composers and singers. As a result, many of these hindi remakes of the Bengali songs actually became super-duper hits in Bollywood as well. We call them remake because the music used to be the exactly same.

The legendary duo of Kishore Kumar and Rahul Dev Burman (Pancham Da) used this to perfection for the joy of both the music scenes- Bangla and Hindi. Many hindi listeners will not be knowing that some of the famous Hindi songs were actually copied from Bengali. Lets listen to few of them in this post.

The first one is a marvellous Bengali song “Aakash Keno Daake…” by Kishore Kumar, which was written by Gouriprasanna Majumdar and composed by Rahul Dev Burman. The song was recorded as Puja album by Pancham Da and Kishore. But once the song was hit, it was adopted in famous Hindi film Kati Patang released in 1970 as “Yeh Shaam Mastani...” filmed on Rajesh Khanna and Asha Parekh. This song was also sung by Kishore and composed by Pancham Da. You can yourself listen to the both songs-first one is the original Bengali from the Puja album and second one is from the Bollywood film.

The second song is “Ek Din Paakhi Ure Jaabe…” The Bengali song by Kishore Kumar was written by Mukul Dutta and composed by Rahul Dev Burman. The song was also recorded as Puja album by Pancham Da and Kishore. But once the song was hit, it was adopted in famous Hindi film Pyar Ka Mausam released in 1969 as “Tum Bin Jaoon Kehan…” filmed on Shashi Kapoor and Asha Parekh. But in the film this song was sung by great Mohammad Rafi and composed by Pancham Da himself. Enjoy the two songs- first one in Bengali and second one in Hindi.

The third one, this marvellous Bengali song “E Jhumri Re Cholechi Eka...” by Kishore Kumar was also written by Mukul Dutta and composed by Rahul Dev Burman. The song was recorded as Puja album by Pancham Da and Kishore. But once the song was hit, it was adopted in famous Hindi film Mere Jeevan Sathi released in 1972 as “Chala Jata Hoon...” filmed on Rajesh Khanna and Tanuja. In the film too this song was sung by Kishore Kumar and composed by Pancham Da himself. Enjoy the comparison- first one in Bangla and second one in Hindi.

Indeed Pancham-Kishore duo used this to perfection but there were many composers before and after them, doing this same thing. Listen to this fourth song. This famous bengali song “Amay Proshno Kore…” by none other than Hemant Kumar (hemant Da) was also originally recored as a modern bengali song (Puja Song). This song was later adopted in famous Hindi film “Anand” (1971) starring Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan. Music for both the versions- Bengali as well as Hindi was composed by Salil Chowdhury. This song written in Hindi by Yogesh and voiced by Mukesh ” Kahin Door Jab Din dhal jaaye…” is considered to one of his gems. Listen to both the versions here-

But adoption from Bengali to Hindi was not limited to Puja songs only. Few hits from Bangla films were also lifted in Hindi films and they in turn went to become super hits in Hindi as well. Like this fifth song. This famous song “E Ki Holo, keno holo…” from a Bengali movie Rajkumari released in 1970, starring Uttam Kumar and Tanuja. This song was sung by legendary Kishore Kumar and composed by great R D Burman. This song was also written by Gauri Prasanna Majumdar. This song was such a hit that it was used in Hindi film Amar Prem released in 1971 casting Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore. This song with hindi wordings – ‘Yeh Kya Hua…’ but identical music was brought to life by the same great singer-composer duo of Kishore & Pancham Da. Lyrics for hindi version were written by Anand Bakshi. Rest is history, this song filmed on Rajesh Khanna went on to become one of the biggest hits, may be bacuase of Rajesh Khanna’s mannerisms. Listen to both of them, you will enjoy a lot.

Interestingly, as soon as such songs will appear, there would be a raging debate that which version was better and Bangla & Hindi loyalists will fight out. But the true music lovers will enjoy the both.

There is lot more and we shall keep the discussion going on, with some more songs next time from other top singers and composers. Till than, happy Durga Puja.


(Please don’t use the text from the post anywhere without permission)

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