Thursday, June 24, 2021

An Indian motorcycle: saved by a British ghost

<<Based on a decade old true story from Mumbai days..>>

From archives: One of it's mud rallies
There was a mild 'klunk' when I had driven over that particular pothole - one more abuse added to the billion shocks my poor machine had withstood. Sometimes it was the poor roads, sometime it was me venting out my anger addressed to rest of the world unjustifiably directed to the machine.

Though it had taken more than its share of hardships, today I was a bit worried for my bike.

And as I parked - the proof was there. The security guard came running to point out a trickle of petrol left in our trail. He shouted - 'Sir ji - kabse bol raha hoon. Nayi lo, ye bangar ko de do. Dekho khatra kar rakha hai iss building ke liye..' (been telling you - get a new one; this one ought to be scrapped. This is dangerous for the building/ society). 

 The words hit me hard. 


When you love someone or something, you are so lost in that journey of love that you would fight wars to protect them. But today, I was hit hard…. And was tired.. somehow I was not able to fight his words back..


Humbled in the parking

A sense of helplessness engulfed me. Looking around - my old love was humbled by a Hayabusa, a KTM RC 390, a Kawasaki Z 650 and a modest Yamaha R15; a BMW 3 series nearby. I saw the security guy's point - an aging Bajaj Pulsar 200 was not exactly glamming up the scenario, but now it posed a fire threat to the whole place itself. Hence his sharp words.

My casual analysis pointed to a fuel tank rupture. But I was tired because of all what the bike had been through:


Maybe Mr. Manohar (our security personnel) was right, maybe I had abused it more than it had to offer. Maybe it was time for it to go..

 Suddenly there was an alarming chill in the air... and I felt.. 

Something ….

something different..

I ran the facts again, it was a hot Mumbai evening, the security guy was sweating.. But yet, the chill was growing from a meagre nuisance for me to an intolerable ache in my body.. Increasing every second..

While the body took its pain, the mind seemed to be in a precarious state as well. Some hazy hallucinations came up. Something like flashes of an airstrip, view of the sea from a high altitude, and a union jack…

I never believed in 'Possession', ghosts or such mumbo jumbo that those cheap novels harped about.. Until NOW….

Of course we don’t like the idea of someone being in control of our body.. 

The hallucinations became more strong. Forget Call of duty, this was way more real than a first person video game simulation. I saw a whirring fan, with dozen of instruments, experienced a negative g-force effect of climbing an air pocket, and a thud with sounds of wheels over a long tarmac..


The helmet was taken off as the gentleman swung across the ladder to get off his airplane. We were at the Gravesend Royal Air Force airfield and the uniform name tag read 'James Harry Lacey' and with little knowledge of the emblems, I could not make out the rank. The mark on the aircraft he alighted meant that he was already a flying ace, downing at least 5 enemy aircraft. The aircraft seemed like one that I had seen in a book or a museum, but I could not identify it yet.

Suddenly, there was shrill of sirens. No mistaking the sirens - they were warning for an impending enemy air raid.. 

Sgt. Lacey's RAF 501 squadron 
Lacey could not believe it. He had just finished a sortie and thought his 501 squadron had pushed back the Luftwaffe's (German Air force) squadron over the English Channel. Pushed them back to France.. Or so it seemed.

Evidently, that was a decoy. The real attack was coming now! Lacey thought for a while. Logic and protocol demanded to abandon the aircraft and make a run to survive.

The future was pretty bleak. A quick fact check:

  • Regardless of what that ol' bloke Churchill said over the radio, Dunkirk had proved that the once mighty Britain was now embracing a retreat objective, going back from an offensive strategy.
  • It was an open secret: Unless it got help from some allies (those Yankees perhaps?), the days of Royal Air Force and Britain were numbered. Luftwaffe ruled the skies now. Hitler had deployed 2600 fighters and bombers, to best Britain's meagre 640. With France having fallen and most of Britain's European allies seemed to be following suit, it was only a matter of time before the Royal Air Force (RAF) would succumb with its dwindling number of aircrafts. General Goring and that funny moustache guy's Blitzkrieg strategy seemed to be working well, and our dear Lord Dowding for once seemed to be turning out a sod.
  • Having finished a sortie and some intense gunning, his aircraft was already low on fuel and ammunition. The starboard wing had taken some fire sometime back and he had not yet checked the degree of damage.


Wait.. I shook myself hard.. Why was I seeing all this? Experiencing things from history? 1940s perhaps.. The severity of emotions I felt made me convinced that this was not a movie, but a reality I was experiencing from a different era.

I remember the chill rising again, Manohar (our security personnel) looking at me in astonishment - as if he had seen a ghost, and when my mind could no longer battle on, I succumbed.

Sgt. Lacey looked around. The orders were clear: abandon the airstrip, it was too late to scramble aircraft to form a defense for the onslaught of enemy fighters. Not to forget the Junkel bombers, which were surely bringing up the rear to create havoc on the airfield once the frontline fighters had done their job. It was a no brainer- abandon your aircraft and try to save your lives.

That feeling that Lacey had.... It seemed way too familiar for me... Well yes! - it was exactly the same mix of despair & helplessness what I was feeling like moments ago!

Lacey fared better than me in getting out of that pit of pity and indecisiveness. He put his helmet on and made a dash for his Supermarine Spitfire.

Jump in the cockpit and start up the engine。。。

Move all the wheel blocks。。。

There's no time to waste。。。。

A war hero: V12 Rolls Royce Merlin engine

The Rolls Royce engine roared to life and he turned the rudder to direct the aircraft towards the empty patch on the right.

Got to get airborne before it's too late..

The sound of the German aircraft changed from a buzz to roar, and he could see with his naked eye a formation of BF109s nearing in. Machine gunfire followed and he sadly saw them strafing the parked RAF fighters. 

Next, that notorious shrill sounded. His fears were reality now, it was those menacing German Junkel bombers going into a dive.

Soon enough, the first set of bombs exploded. The airfield was being annihilated into nothingness. 

Too late for Lacey to change his plans though. The speed rose and he pushed the throttle to maximum and pulled the lever. The aircraft rose from the ground!


I was back in our time. Mr. Manohar was still frozen looking at me as if I was phantom. While I could see things, a new reality dawned to me: 

My limbs would not respond to my brain signals!  

I had no control.

However, the feet started moving to a jog. While I was not in control, someone else was clearly operating my body deftly. Now, my life seemed a movie: one which I could watch and experience, but without any control over the script.

Good God! It was possession indeed. My body was in this ancient war pilot's control!

I saw helplessly as my hands started pushing the bike, and the legs started moving, to a run now. Out of the gate, to the road and to that slope. After gaining some speed, Lacey made my body jump on the moving bike. With some momentum gained..

Clutch>>> Gear 2 >>> Clutch release

 The engine sprang to life!

Smart egg - this Sgt. Lacey.. I see he avoided electric start and chose the momentum jump start method. Sans electricals, there is one lesser way to catch fire indeed. But what were we trying to do here? He still wont give me control of my body and was gunning the engine - increasing speed. I grimaced: with a leaking fuel tank and a revving engine heating up, the bike and I were essentially a Molotov cocktail bomb - waiting to explode any second on the road.

As if he had heard me, Sgt. Lacey raised one finger to my forehead, picked up a drop of sweat. The bead of sweat was bent and put on the engine bay. I saw that the drop did not sizzle into steam, it flowed down. 

Point taken - engine was not that hot. Not enough to boil a sweat drop, perhaps not enough to set fire to the fuel trickle it was subject to. Yet…

The bike and I were gaining speed. The engine was being gunned well, though never reaching the redline, and upshifts being moderated at 4000 rpm; perhaps to optimize heat generation and speed generation.

As a mere spectator, I marveled at how my body and my bike were being driven swiftly with precision, under the command of Sgt. Lacey. Seeing the skillful operation, my mind (my own in this case) wondered why the spirit of a British flying Ace was out trying to help me here? As if a neuron of my brain connected with that of Sgt. Lacey’s, both the minds opined on the following:

  • Both of us had an indescribable love for our machines. We trusted them, and they trusted us.. Logic parked aside, this was a unique relationship of pistons, cylinders, and neurons.
  • From a British ace swearing by his hand built Rolls Royce engine on a British masterpiece: ready to battle the technically superior German; to an Indian retaining his Bajaj machine as against that Japanese & German onslaught, there was a lot in common. I was particular happy to possess an Indian machine with an indigenous engine, built in my country, by my country(wo)men.. We both had superior competition, but still chose to stick to our country: being patriotic, in our own ways.
  • Clearly, both of us were willing to risk it all for our machines. While Sgt. Lacey decision making was immediate, an external (or inter-dimensional/ ghostly) push was needed in my case. Live to fly, fly to live. Do or die..

As I was contemplating the situation, another challenge accosted us. A massive traffic jam could be seen ahead at the Saki Vihar road. Our engine was still heating up, ready to set fire to the fuel and a traffic jam would not just increase the heat, but also have ample of other live human beings - being risked with a makeshift bomb made of a heating bike and leaking fuel.

I was losing vision again.. from the present.. And gaining vision and senses:  Of the British air, from another era, flavored with war scent of bombs, gunfire and aviation fuel.

As British as one can be:
the Supermarine Spitfire

The Spitfire was in the air, increasing distance from the bombarding at the airfield. However, the sound of the Rolls Royce 10 cylinder engine that was not the only one to be heard. There was another. Lacey turned around. 

BMW powered FW 190: Nazi markings et all
Sure enough, at his tail was a Luftwaffe fighter! No mistaking that wretched turbocharged radial BMW 801 engine. Deutschland seemed to producing more of these Focke-Wulf 190 than what the Allied powers could shoot down in a day.

Though a rare phenomenon, I could sense fear building up in Lacey's blood. The chances were weighed, and they weren't bright - No Sir.. He was alone, low on fuel and underpowered form an engineering standpoint. If he went into a dive with the engine on, the negative G-force would flood fuel to his carburetor, choking and finally stalling his engine, while his enemy's turbo charger would have no such problem and dive in faster to gun him down.

Blimey.. To hell with it. Our dear mate 'logic' should take a back seat for a while..

He shut off the engine and commenced his dive. His nemesis from the Luftwaffe followed and as expected, was gaining on us. The FW190 started strafing, but we narrowly escaped.

1,030 hp Rolls Royce Merlin powered Spitfire,
with 1,530 hp BMW powered Luftwaffe on tail

Now Lacey pulled the lever fully. I cringed upon experiencing the massive organ crushing G-force as the aircraft swerved hard right. While the German FW190 claimed supremacy in horsepower, it was not was not the same case in agility, where the tables turned in favor of the British Supermarine Spitfire . Bracing the extreme centrifugal force,  Lacey completed a loop and was now successfully at the side of the German. The hunter had become the hunted! Why, he could also see the Hornchurch airstrip! As the war trumpet, he pressed down his guns at the German.

Poof.. I was back from the World War II and was now seeing my body mounted on the speeding Pulsar 200. Having just witnessed Lacey's tactics, a chill ran through my spine as I looked in anticipation what he was about to do to address this traffic problem ahead.

Sure enough, my wrist opened the throttle opened fully to gain as much speed as we could;
and then I saw my other finger hit the engine kill switch. Just like the Spitfire and Lacey, the bike and I were coasting as illegal speeds, with the engine shut off (See - Lacey did think about not putting innocent people in danger) towards the traffic. I was a tad scared considering my worn out tires and the limited grip they could offer but by now, I had faith in Lacey (and his spirit). 

That is the queer thing about Trust: Once one has won it, he/she could persuade the other bloke into anything, however absurd it may be.

And this is precisely what Lacey played on with me.

This time, I parked inhibitions aside, and let his spirit take full control of my hands and watched in awe as we leaned, swayed, bent the motorcycle - snaking nimbly through the crowd comprising of cars, motorcycles, autorickshaws, cycles, hawkers and everything else that Mumbai traffic has to offer.

As I was approaching the end of the road, the workshop was in sight. I was also beginning to sense control getting back for my limbs. The mind and the body were getting reconnected now. With a cold shiver, I witnessed a sight from the other era: the aircraft landing safely on the Hornchurch airfield and Lacey's victorious grin. Also an emotion of goodbye. 

Since I had control over my body again, and the workshop was 100 m away, I mustered all my energy and shouted: "Uday bhai! ***censored** tank phat gaya! Bachaao; aag pakad sakta hai".

{Help! Ruptured tank- fire risk!!}

Petrol tank's end of life

If Kimi Raikkonen or Lewis Hamilton were watching, they would boil in jealousy to see the speed and sincerity with which Chandru and Uday heard my voice and ran to tend to my machine before I could even fully stop. Within seconds, my pit crew had taken over and dismounted the fuel tank, flushed the residual fuel and dumped the ruptured tank. Few minutes later, we were discussing if the fuel line and valvetrain could be augmented, to push more fuel; to make the bike go faster. And other things that could be repaired & augmented- now that the bike was at the workshop waiting for a new tank. The new tank;  of course, could be scavenged at a fraction of the cost from the notorious chor bazaar.. 

Roads or not, we keep going
Moral of the story:

  • Love your machine well, and it will love you back…
  • Heavens forbid, if the spirit of  Squadron Leader 'Ginger' Lacey pays you a visit, tell him to go easy on the clutch, lest like me - you end up with a slippy clutch after his aggressive drive..


PS: In an era where new, manufacturers introduce faster models every month, a special thanks goes out to Uday, Anthony, Ganesh anna & Chandru: who managed to keep this Pulsar 200 one of the fastest machine on the streets for a decade.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Phebe: mysteries unraveled..

On HuangShan>>

Pre -read reference: 

Shoo: make (a person or animal) go away by waving one's arms at them, saying “shoo,” or otherwise acting in a discouraging manner (source: Oxford dictionary)

Caveat: It's been a while that we've hit the club scene and maybe that’s why we may sound so excited here

We were so out of sync that we realized we were humming 'wheels on the bus' while starting off from the hotel. Phebe was chosen for the sole reason that it was near to the hotel and thought we'd be getting back quick. No there is no mis-spelling here, kindly refer to Sona's picture here.

Once we got to the place, I was a bit skeptical. The place was huge; even from the outside. The car park was envious: A Lamborghini Urus, funky Beijing BJ 40, Cadillacs, Porsches and even a couple of heavily modified Japanese humbled our VW cab.

We darted in and started posting our enquiries: was there an entry fee? Could we see the menu please? (fact of life - always be prepared on what your bill in going to be) and so on. The petite lady would have none of it and shoved us inside. The interior was a different world. A lot more than what a Saturday party place should be.

The smarty lady led us to a table near the DJ, where many ladies were already seated. With a couple of shouts, she shoo-ed them away with sharp words. In a manner that would make a shepherd and his sheep grimace. She installed us at the table and started talking to us.

However, I stood my ground. I would not yield without seeing the menu and being apprised of what a drink/ table would cost. I shouted, she shouted, and all of our words - regardless of the language, were drowned by the music. The smarty girl finally yielded and decided to hand us over to the master Shifu and the manager - Mr. Bin

A suave chap, he had us impressed with his stylish moves with his phone and with sign language - he managed adding us on text. Presto! Now we could type and communicate over translator! After some communication a short menu appeared out of nowhere.

The situation was summarized as follows: the table that had been allocated to us (after shoo-ing those ladies) was a good one and we ought to order from that specific menu - with a minimum order being for couple of grands.

I revolted vehemently. I explained my life's mission statement, my budgetary policy and expressed by willingness to exit and head to Liyang street pubs.

But our suave Shifu Bin would have none of it, he took us to another 'tavern' table which offered a different menu. Once we got here, he mouthed an earful to another group of youngsters seated - who hurriedly vacated the table, rushed to the stage and started dancing. This phenomenon of shoo-ing people was getting strikingly peculiar. Sona later solved this one, but more on that later.

So for now we are at a new table and a different menu was summoned magically from air by Bin. The menu had something that was in line with what would not dent my retirement fund and I requested for two pints. Now, Bin was not convinced. He almost got cross at us at the prospect of two measly beers - they could only get one so much happiness and offered us a peculiar deal: for 20% more - we could get a 12 beer pack and a gigantic platter. This time, I got concerned about HIS financial model and bottom line; but took the bait.

We glanced around: The DJ had switched this time and people were gathering near the stage for another showman who was taking over. Guys and girls - all of them were having a good time, and we were also settling into the mood.

As I got my eyes back to our table, I found another slim debonair guy staring at me. Bin had disappeared. The new guy's eyes conveyed a mystical determination and never left mine. I tried to look around but I could still feel those new set of eyes drilling at me. When I realized I was not going to be able to shake it off, I found the courage to look back in his eyes. Our eyes met. Without leaving his gaze, he pulled out a pint, opened the bottle and poured out in two glasses. His job, and stare done, he glided away into the dark.


As our eyes were adjusting to the dark and quirky lights, and we were getting a better feel of the place. Everything was likeable. The debonair glided in again, emptied the bottle and opened another one with that stare.  

For a while at least things were fine. Next, a towering and well-built figure appeared. No mistaking that uniform - he could have been from security or from an official authority. 

He politely waved us to step out and we knew at once that this was not one of those situations to bargain or argue.
In my life's journey, I have been in trouble amply; and consider myself a decent judge of deciding on when to run and when to comply with the authorities. The voice inside today leaned to the latter

Once outside, we were explained that in the mayhem of (a) we trying to figure out about the place and (b) the manager's concern to settle us in, we had skipped the security and the COVID-19 code check protocol. So we held out our devices and tried to get our government codes. Tsch tsch.. The club acceptable one was the provincial health code. Now came the problem: this particular one was not designed well for foreigners and we struggled to fill the online Hanzi form.

After a while, we realized we were not getting anywhere. We then flashed our hotel key - requested the security Shifu to call our hotel to fetch get the codes (which they already had from our check-in). 

Well, as per his process document, this was acceptable as an exception, with the following conditions:

  1. That we fill up a physical form and declaration, giving the details of our passport, train details, train time, hotel details, Shanghai address and our genetic codes.
  2. Protocol also stated that we be given fresh masks lest our masks carry infections from elsewhere.

Lambo Urus & Beijing BJ40

For point #2, the macho fellow headed to his macho SUV - a modern day red Beijing BJ40 (not a fan but impressed by this barebones Humvee look-alike) and fetched two fresh masks. He made sure we disposed our old masks carefully in the designated bin in front of him. Now we could head back.

As we got back, the scene had changed again. The color theme was different and music had switched from English to local and club mix. Seeing us return, some youngsters meandering on our table were shoo-ed again by the debonair and we found our next glasses already readied. 

The dance floor in front of us was a bouncy one (no kidding - a springy one indeed) and the people were filled to the brim and dancing in sync. Behind us, there were people standing on the platform above our heads and dancing. (Think of the YMCA moves done by Hard Rock Café staff on higher platforms/ bar counters). Some were moving to the music, some with fancy Chinese fans : an amazing blend of tradition and modernity.

This time, a woman manager of a different kind came by and shouted scathingly at two ladies dressed in red at the platform dancing behind us. They immediately got down and drove off to mix with people.

Now Sona hypothesized - some of the crowd could be hired. By Jove! It all fit and as the point drove home - I started seeing around with new lenses: One particular category - I could place as students, being called in to drive up the cool factor. One group of ladies in red, were clearly there to spruce up the glam factor and possible companionship for patrons. 

As it struck to me, one of the red lady appeared next to me. A drink went by and I could still feel someone behind me. I hugged Sona tightly to make a point and stayed there until the threat passed.

We did not know the time, but our debonair guy made sure we were never without a drink and kept the other round ready - to avoid any blasphemous scenario of we being kept waiting for a drink.

Between us, we have seen some places and could list some common factors between Vegas & Amsterdam, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore & Brussels, etc. However, this was an experience phenomenally different from what we had ever witnessed.

Maybe we have been away from the scene for a while, maybe we are getting old. But there is no point thinking about the reason of our excitement.  Phebe will remain an unforgettable place.

More on HuangShan:

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Exceeding expectations - HuangShan

Well we are used to this - where an institutional advertisement objective somewhat meets our emotional requirement. For instance, I am a big fan of the big yellow arches.

When I see a Mc Donald's advert, it instantly makes me happy, for I know I will be able to try it our soon. It is usually to my taste, comes at an incredible price.  However, there is an important expectation management for each one of us when it comes to advertisement vs. reality.
Over years, our minds have become tuned to accept this norm - of settling and being satisfied with something lesser than what is advertised.
The Economics curve intersection of expectations and supply perhaps?

With this mindset, when we saw the pictures of Huangshan (yellow mountains) - over the internet, the station, at the hotel & each time, we dismissed them. We were looking forward to be happily content with a pleasant impending future experience - a fraction of what was being picturized of course.

And the moment we boarded the cable car , it all went wrong. For once, life had thrown a surprise - no words, no pictures do justice, it is just the experience. 

This was way beyond expectations..

For the logistics description, bear in mind the order: 

  1. Reaching Tangkou village

2. Bus to cable car or elsewhere (multiple options-> Yungusi or Ciguangge)

3. Cable car to peak (two options)

For phase 1, we took the hotel car to reach the Tangkou village. 

The bus ride is again a scenic one and the driver was clearly under an oath to keep the vehicle in higher gear. Hence he did not stop building momentum on the straights (few) and when hair pin u-turns (plenty) came up ; like Goliath with his slingshot, he tried to hurl us around with all the centripetal and tangential force he could muster.

At the destination bus station, we were happy with the cloud cover, the mist, & the flora, and walked lazily to the cable car station. 

Ticket here again. Complex transaction, with two adults, 1 baby and 1 senior citizen ticket purchased at the right price ( I hope).

Once we boarded the cable car, it kept climbing and climbing. Lost in clouds, we actually lost sense of time! 

All that white - reminds me of: My fav drink! Shaken, not Stirred please..

Up there, there are plenty of hiking places. You could spend hours or even couple of days. As for the peaks to choose - I'd say not to bother if you are visiting for the first time. You cannot compare it to anything you would have seen; so experience whichever you like.. 

Summarizing the unique bit: 
Phase 1 (Tangkou): we had started at ground zero a couple of hours ago with clear view of mountains 
Phase 2: Post bus-ride had ascended to a misty place to meet the clouds 
Phase 3: Post cable car, we had finally ascended above the clouds!

For sure - Every minute will present something unique here.

On our way back, we did stop at the Hot Springs. This was a casual exploratory bit with the idea of visiting a natural hot spring. Our Mandarin illiteracy got the better of us. 'HuangShang Hot spring' turns out to have hot spring - yes; but this is actually a hotel that has developed this area and charges a separate fee for entry here. While views are spectacular, do plan visit here with the right mindset - time and dress for dip in your preferred spring (milk based, tea based baths, etc.) 

At edge of the world

We decided to stay at HuangShang downtown as against Tangkuo village for the following reasons:

- We had a baby traveler

- A vegetarian amongst us

- We are only at HSK 1.5  level (Mandarin beginners)

Based on Tangkou experience, we can now say Sona and I could have stayed here. Though do note that we struggled immensely to conclude:

Complex transactions such as:

- Communicating that we are tourists

- Buying water

And more so with highly complex transactions such as:

- Buying a ticket as a foreigner (fact alerts henceforth)

- Replying to the ticket vendor on her query on specifying our destination 

- Specifying that my mother 'bu chi rou/不 吃肉' (does not eat meat)

- Canceling our ticket to Hot spring and rebooking again

- Modeling the correlation between Credit Default Spread (CDS) of Belgian sovereign and that of a Congo based oil producer (gibberish alert)

Tip: If you do not read Mandarin and still want to stay at Tangkou, please buy a map at the airport/ station, befriend someone there and try to finalize your itinerary - mark the same in the map in clear big circles (in red/ pink/ fluorescent green, etc.) very well to show later around in Tangkou/ ticketing areas. Jokes apart, people are very helpful, and you will eventually get by. English and Tripadvisor will be of little help of course.

A big factor for us was the Crowne Plaza Huangshan. With a baby and a vegetarian amongst us, we had decided to stay near the city as against the Tongkuo village. Crowne Plaza rewarded us phenomenally:

A splendid property, grand swimming pool, lavish breakfast, IHG club benefits galore. Personal tit bit: This ranks 1st or 2nd in my experiential ranking (Nope not the Marriott, not the Ritz Carlton; the first place for me would be reserved again for the Crowne Plaza - the Bahrain financial district one with its squash court)

Oher things to do (near Downtown HS):

Tunxi ancient street: 

We went with an open mind and all of us were really very happy. We went expecting the same ol' China street as is with any town, but soon realized each one has its own character. The food, artifacts and everything else at Tunxi was way different from our earlier experiences..

Mark my words: Babies are a great way to bring nations together 

Liyang street: (Linyang Lao)

This was one of the most spectacular affair of our visit. This features in one of the bottom 'to-do' list at Trip Advisor and turned out to be a hidden gem. A mix of medieval Europe, Oriental mysticism and fun in the air - I personally guarantee happiness for you here..

Cafes here will surprise you with their antiques and quirkiness.

The clubs deserve a separate mention , and Phebe adventure is out here..

Sona & Shubham's adventures @ Phebe!!

By the way, did I not mention babies are social magnets?

Monday, April 12, 2021

Searching for the God of Thunder..

The condo we live in offers pretty good views; and the builder has been smart enough to install glass panes that are robust to withstand typhoons - something that nature has been hurling with ferocity at Shanghai over years. The typhoon withstanding ability of the glass is also complemented with a pretty good insulation which keeps out the horrific wind screams, occasional shipping air horns from the Huangpu river as well as the revving of Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Mclarens (my personal favorites) by enthusiastic drivers around.

I like it this way - the peaceful way. The way life should be : A man/ woman ought to be at peace, ready to pursue his/ her area of interest. Of course, the household chaos may drive you nuts; but as an option - I love the idea of living in a home which insulates external cacophony. 

Li'l Soshu: Rain rain go away

The glass does a good job - I see big ships bleating their air horns; I have witnessed relentless winds outside. However none of that is allowed to seep in and peace within our home is upheld.

However, there was one thrum that managed to wiggle through the insulation and creep into the home every morning. The thrum was powerful enough to cause minor vibrations in the glass as well!

Could it be Thor? Nah.. Avengers always spar aliens in US or western countries (barring that one off Wakanda battle). For some reason, none of the bigger issues like alien invasion, lost nuclear arsenal, demigods attack, etc. seem to affect Asia . 

Day after day, I tried to track the source by applying the science of logical deduction. 

Here are my findings:

  • Ships: I see a 200k + tonnage ship bearing a Dutch flag - maybe it was bleating its air horn. Or its motor could have been too powerful. The next day there was no big ship or even li'l boats. The thrum was still there. So ships are not to blame.. 
  • Screeching winds? I have cycled back in screeching winds to enter our home with absolute peace. Windy day or not - that thrum comes in at 7:50 am. Nope, weather was even worse in the Fall & Winter evenings.
  • Ghosts: Nope - I have heard that the way HK & Shanghai's real estate prices have moved; most of ghosts have migrated west to more affordable places in New York and Paris (Numbers courtesy: Statistica)

The question plagued me for months - pushing me further towards insanity. More so because I somehow loved that modulated thrum and how it rose. The fact that I did not know what I loved sounded bizarre.

The answer struck me when I saw this green outrageous machine and loved the sound of it - The Mercedes Gullwing- AMG. If you are a motorhead - you would understand the art of correlation - about cornering with the same family of chassis, listening to the same family of engines revving, etc.. In my case, the latter was a sudden connect.

Sure enough, I darted the next morning - right at 7:50am. 

The thrum yes, an AMG engine - maybe, visuals - no.

Failure to identify.. However, I'll live for tomorrow.

The next day, clouds and winds played havoc. Though could not hear them inside. Then that thrum livened. I looked frantically.

Yes there it was!

Don’t see it?

Look again… Does that red square help?

Yet again.. Let me zoom it a bit for you..

And some more (the max my phone can zoom)

You see that pale golden dot - the one dwarfed by a Lexus van? That's the culprit: The Mercedes AMG G 63. a.k.a. the 'G-wagen'

Look at the pictures above again to get an idea of the distance. Bear in mind the insulation job of the apartment as well. And now think about it - how Mercedes and AMG manage to beat the ships, distance, winds and insulation to greet me!

So forget Thor. Yield to the thunder of that 4 L V8  spooling those Borg Warner twin-turbos.
The real God of Thunder is the AMG M-176 V8 engine on that 2 ton Mercedes beast.