• Buddha Blues

    As a child growing up in the ‘80’s India, I had the privilege to visit the fair ground and make loud demands for small earthen figurines. These were miniscule statues of great people, all dead, and therefore deemed fit to be gods as well as toys. They included Ramakrishna and his wife Ma Sarada, Netaji Subhas Chandra, Mahatma Gandhi, Radha-Krishna, Charlie Chaplin and Buddha.

    I knew who Buddhadev was. He was made of plastic, a delicate blue in color and entirely hollow. I stored coins in him by removing the white cap just below the lotus on which he sat. When I shook him, the coins would jingle pleasantly. I don’t remember who gifted him to me.

    Periodically, I bought illustrated books with the coins. In time, it included ‘Buddha’, ‘Angulimala’, and ‘Jataka Tales’ from the Amar Chitra Katha series. Angulimala, the outcast who killed people and wore a necklace of their chopped fingers, who turned Buddhist, and got stoned to death when he came back to town to beg for alms as a monk – was my

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  • The Ford EcoSport has been an object of infatuation since it broke cover at the Delhi Auto Expo in 2012. It basked in the limelight for a year and a half for three reasons – an unconventionally attractive design, the 1-litre EcoBoost petrol engine and the sub-Rs 10 lakh price tag. In a sign that the wait is finally over, Ford has recently conducted the pre-launch test drive for media in Goa.

    I know most of you have already seen the EcoSport in-person as part of Ford’s pre-launch campaign and formed an opinion about its design and features. But does the 1-litre EcoBoost engine pack enough punch to take this urban SUV to the top of its game? Read on to find out.

    Design

    In appearance, the EcoSport is unmistakably avant-garde. The front end features a large, ‘gaping fishmouth’ grille flanked by slim headlamps and big fog lamps, reflecting Ford’s global design language. Two bold lines on the bonnet flow onto the roof, highlighting the car’s aerodynamic prowess. I particularly liked the

    Read More »from Road Test and Review: Ford EcoSport
  • The Calendar Poet

    Rabindranath Tagore is our National Poet, just like the peacock is our national bird. He wrote our National Anthem, the ‘Jana Gana Mana’, and we sing the first stanza only because it’s too long for anyone else to remember. He also wrote ‘Amar Sonar Bangla’, the Naitonal Anthem for Bangladesh. He opposed the Partition of Bengal. He was the first Indian to win a Nobel Prize. This happened because he translated ‘Gitanjali’ (a really fat volume of poems) so others could read him in English. Basically, the translation (which isn’t very good), got him that prize. The British made him a Knight (so grown-up people could also call him ‘Sir’ and not just his students), but he renounced it to protest against the Jallianwala Bagh massacre by writing a nice but rude letter to the Viceroy. He wrote it at night because he was an insomniac anyway.

    Click here to read Tagore's letter to the Viceroy >>

    In his late teens, Rabindranath fell in love with his sister-in-law (who committed suicide). He had a

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  • This one’s for the enthusiasts. If you wonder how on earth a 1.2 litre engine is going to impress an enthusiast, digest this: the new Polo GT is powered by a turbo-charged direct injection TSI petrol engine that develops a mighty 105PS and 174 Nm of torque, offering better performance than the discontinued 1.6 litre Polo. Those who cribbed about the Polo 1.2 being underpowered and the 1.6 being defunct would both find solace in the new Polo TSI.

    Design

    We love the Polo for its classic, sober design and there are not many changes that make the new Polo different from its predecessor. However, on the exterior, the new Polo TSI gets headlamps with black finish, GT badging on the front grille, new alloy wheels and GT TSI badging on the boot lid as well as the C pillar.

    The interior gets a more serious makeover that reflects the car’s sportiness. Seats get a new black and grey fabric combination and are supportive, too. The steering wheel, gearshift knob and the handbrake lever are

    Read More »from Road Test and Review: Volkswagen Polo GT 1.2 TSI
  • Narendra Modi making the announcement that shocked the media.Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Narendra Modi dropped a bombshell as he announced his exit from the prime ministerial race leaving both his supporters and opponents stunned. The out of the blue decision of the Gujarat chief minister has left the BJP's political opponents Congress in a tizzy as they now don't know whom to attack in the run-up to the upcoming general elections in 2014.

    Modi, when asked about reasons for his surprising move, said he is just not satisfied by Gujarat's development and he wants the state to become more prosperous than the United States of America and Europe combined, and it will be only then that he will be mentally ready to pursue the bigger role.

    Despite its top performing chief minister quitting the PM race, the BJP heaved a sigh of relief as it feels it can now attack Congress without any fear of any retaliation. A BJP spokesperson said that the party at present can relax and not worry about being accused of being communal. "The BJP can now go all out

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  • Hyundai is on a roll. It has recently achieved another milestone of 1.2 million i10s sold across the globe. What better way to celebrate this accomplishment than with a special edition i10. Called the i Tech i10, the special edition comes with a host of new features.

    The i Tech i10 can be distinguished by sporty ‘i Tech’ body graphics outside and dual tone red and beige upholstery seats with red dashboard and door armrest inserts inside. The most beneficial add-on is the rear-view parking camera with electro-chromic function on cabin rear view mirror, which is a first-in-segment feature. It also gets a steering-mounted Bluetooth device. The special edition i Tech i10 can be yours if you shell out an extra 15000 rupees than the standard i10.

    Well, the celebrations didn’t end there. Hyundai organized a cross-country drive called ‘i Drive India’ to showcase the durability, performance, reliability and fuel efficiency of the i10. Selected automobile journalists got a chance to spend two

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  • Indica has been an important car for Tata. Ever since its launch in 1998, the car has evolved into a capable and practical hatchback that always stayed on top of sales charts. Now in its latest Vista D90 avatar, Indica has shifted the goal posts to another pitch. Powered by a specially tuned Quadrajet diesel engine, the new Indica is a completely different animal that delivers 90PS of raw power. However, does it live up to the hype? I recently spent two days behind the wheel of the D90 to find that out.

    Design

    Tata has thrown in some new design elements that reflect the sportiness of the car. However, the new bumpers and an aerodynamic rear spoiler seen in the pictures are not part of the original D90, but a body kit that you may purchase from the dealership. What come as standard are just a contrasting roof and the D90 badge at the rear.

    When it comes to the interiors, the D90 receives major changes. The Manza-inspired dashboard looks pretty neat and thankfully the centre-mounted

    Read More »from Road Test and Review: Tata Vista D90
  • Rahul Gandhi's average speech at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) was slammed by his critics and even by some of his admirers, rather secretly. In an attempt to save face, the Congress party, surprisingly, has shifted the blame on Rahul's speech writers.

    A source within the Congress stirred the hornet's nest when he informed the media that writing an ordinary speech such as this takes a lot of guts and is the work of a "himmatwaala" (courageous one).

    Taking cue from the source, the media immediately rushed to Bollywood filmmaker Sajid Khan, who recently has been censured for his latest film, Himmatwaala and its outrageous dialogues.

    On Friday morning, a frustrated Sajid Khan was seen eschewing a number of media personnel surrounding him outside his Mumbai house, pestering him with a number of questions about Rahul's CII speech and its relation to his film.

    There was only one question that the reporters were constantly shooting at Sajid - "Did you write Rahul's speech?"

    "Yes, I

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  • In the past couple of years, the Indian car industry introduced us to a series of new segments. Needless to say, the sub-4 metre segment emerged the most popular, thanks to the tax benefit it enjoys. But the carmakers’ desperate attempt to cash in on the lower tax rate left us with a handful of mediocre designs that were merely squeezed up variants of existing models. Finally, we have in the market a well-thought-out, a well-sculpted sub-4 metre sedan -- the Honda Amaze.

    And that’s not all. With a 1.5L i-DTEC engine that’s exclusively developed for India, the Amaze marks Honda’s entry into the diesel segment. That fact itself makes the Amaze recognisable in the already crowded diesel segment, but has the Japanese carmaker got everything right with the Amaze to win the lost market share back? Let’s drive the Amaze to find out.

    Design

    If you thought the Amaze is just the Brio with a boot slapped onto it, hey, you were wrong. Although the front half of the car is identical to the

    Read More »from Road Test and Review: Honda Amaze
  • The Indian government has come up with an interesting proposition to form a new state ‘Baniya Pradesh’ for the ever-increasing number of banned people and groups in the country.

    Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde made the stunning revelation in a press conference. “In the view of growing number of people getting banned in the country, the Indian government is mulling to form a separate state to maintain decorum in the country,” he said. “We have decided to send such a prohibited population to this new state, which, if formed, would be known as ‘Baniya Pradesh’. Let these banned men and women exercise their Freedom of Expression here, thereby ensuring peace and order in the rest of India.”

    The Home Minister admitted that the Indian government has been meek in acting against the morale police in the country who have been announcing bans left, right and centre. “However, with such a new state formed to represent banned people, we can ensure that there is peace and order in the rest of

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