To be honest, when I applied for the Tata Motors Made of Great Drive event, I was not sure what to expect. The only thing that prompted me was the location – Goa, blissful Goa. Now who refuses a chance to register for a blogger’s meet at Goa. Right? That too by Indiblogger! IB meets are always Amazing. Yes, amazing with a capital A.
When Saurabh from Indiblogger called me in the middle of a busy workday, boy was I glad I answered that call. See, when I am having a crazy day, I do not answer phone calls from numbers that I do not recognise. I suppose it was my Fantastico sixth sense that made me answer it. I confirmed to him that I was available on the weekend this drive was scheduled and also told him that I could not drive. Was he sure he needed people like me? Saurabh chuckled and said that would be no problem. The next thing I know is I am getting congratulatory messages from bloggers on twitter. It was almost midnight and after a long day of work, when I checked the short listed bloggers, my fatigue vanished and I was jumping up and down on the bed with my toddler 😛
The next morning, I looked at the list and realised that out of the 60 bloggers shortlisted, I recognised a few names but did not really know anyone. So, I did what any communication freak would do, decided to connect with all of them and put out this tweet
— Anks LifstyleProBlog (@LifstyleProBlog) November 26, 2015
Turns out, this was one of the best things I did for this trip. My idea was to get to know fellow bloggers and also share information, logistics etc. In the 10 days leading upto the event, this group had about half the bloggers and thousands of messages came pouring in every day as we got to know all about each other! By the time we were ready to board the flight on 5th December, we felt like we had known each other for ages. Going by the hugs at the airport, I knew this was going to be a fun weekend.
After an uneventful flight, we were greeted at Goa by Naveen from Indiblogger. This is where I had a disaster. Turns out that I had not charged my camera battery properly and happily left my charger back home. Naveen offered to charge my camera battery with his charger when we got to the resort and packed us off in buses and cabs. I got to share a ride with Ankita Singhal and Anita, both lovely ladies. The 20 km ride to the resort was over in a jiffy as we talked about blogging, our lives and what the event held in store for us.
When we stepped into Alila Diwa resort in the Majorda village, the only word that escaped our lips was wow. It was a tastefully done up property, combining modern luxury and ethnic Indian elements. Our first activity for the day was… to hit the beach!! Yes, the welcome letter they gave us actually said business can wait. Let us hit the beach first. How cool was that? Between arrival at the resort and departure for the beach I managed to speak to every blogger carrying a Nikon DSLR and checking if I could use their charger. Turns out that my camera is a 1950s model and no one had a charger I could use. By the time I was in the car on the way to the beach, I had accepted that I would not have a camera on me this weekend and would have to rely on cell phone pictures and other bloggers for pictures. When I entered my room, I was greeted by the chirpy Ankita Singhal. I suppose both of us were equally delighted to find ourselves as roomies and chuckled at the fact that someone got a kick out of pairing the namesakes together.
As soon as we hit the beach, I went into the water. As other bloggers networked, clicked selfies and jumped around the beach, I spend moments of heavenly solitude that only the soothing movement of the sea waves and the silence of the sea brings me. The sounds of the waves is silence of the sea for me and one of the reasons I love being on a beach. Anyway, coming back to the event. Five minutes into the water and my blogger buddies were hailing me out. So I stepped out of the water (with a promise to be back soon) and enjoyed watching a game of beach football.
Back at the hotel, we were asked to freshen up and join everyone for an interactive session on blogging. Anoop from IB led this talk and we heard blogging stories, talked about collaboration and then teamed ourselves up for the big drive the next day. We were put three to a car and once the registrations were done, we mingled around chatting with bloggers and meeting people up. Soon, we were asked to join the Tata Motors team for the product presentations. Those of us expecting a regular conference room with a screen and chairs were in for a surprise as we found ourselves in a locker room with bleachers and lockers for each blogger with their name on it! While we explored the room and clicked selfies galore, in walked our coach for the event – the effervescence and witty Cyrus Sahukar. The locker room interaction with the brand started off with Delna Avari from the Marketing team of Tata Motors. She is the woman behind the Tata Motors – Lionel Messi association and one of her achievements is getting Messi to say Namaste India! This was followed by a session by Pablo. I kid you not, Pratap Bose who lead the design team is called Pablo over at TML. He talked about the various design elements of Tiago and took us through the journey of a car when it is a sketch on paper to a clay model to a finished product. He said that the Tiago, zipped through this journey in a mere 36 months! Anand Kulkarni who led the engineering team wrapped up the session by giving us information on the various features of the car which were incorporated keeping the comfort and the driving experience of the end consumer in mind. Post this, they unveiled the Tiago in style! We got to view the car up close and even interact with the team that made it. The bloggers had tonnes of questions about the car, its making, features and even the design elements which the team took pride answering. I felt like we were witnessing a labour of love and not attending the Tata Motors Tiago Pre Launch event.
The locker room activity flew into a cocktail dinner which was accompanied by a karaoke session. Several bloggers like Rahul Prabhakar, Anita, Vaisakhi and Maitreni Mishra belted out numbers from the 70s and the 80s but the one that took the cake was BlogwatiG’s Duet rap with Cyrus Sahukar on Ice Ice Baby! Oh what a rendition it was 🙂 After a series of English numbers, us bollywoodias were screaming for the desi item numbers. Unfortunately, the DJ did not have a selection of Hindi karaoke and we ended up choosing one song to dance to. So yours truly chose Saturday Saturday and drove the junta to the dance floor to wrap up the party in style! Even Pablo joined us for the dance and his parting shot to me the next day was that next time we will have a disco 🙂
The music had ended but none of us were in the mood to end the party. So we moved over to BlogwatiG’s room where we assembled for a secret santa gift exchange and a book exchange! A few of us found a cozy nook by the pool side and chatted away till 2:00 am. This is where I really got to know some of the bloggers up close. Heena, Zainab, Vaisakhi, Ankita, Pawan, Anindya and the best part was meeting Prasad of Desi Traveler. For a celebrity blogger, i found him extremely humble and down to earth.
We were woken up at the crack of dawn by our wake up calls at 6:00 am. Don’t snigger! In Goa, 6 am is an unGodly hour and deserves to be called the crack of dawn. We dressed ourselves in our shiny Messi jerseys as we geared up for the drive up ahead. At the briefing before the drive, we learnt that every car was going to be individually flagged off and would be followed by a support car in case we needed anything! Each one of us was briefed by the Tata Motors marketing team individually. They explained the route and the features of the car. I was especially keen to try out the infotainment system and the awesome surround speakers the Tiago boasts of. Anand and Krishna were in my team and they were the most chilled out guys in the entire event! I had fun getting them to do the challenges that were coming our way during the drive. We interviewed strangers, had them clock selfies with the car, danced with the car as a prop and even sat in the boot of the car! Here are some mad, crazy moments we had during the drive.
While I am no car expert, I have been driven around in cars enough to be able to comment on the features. The Tiago was quite comfortable. Even though it is an entry level hatchback, it boasts of ample boot space, more than enough legroom and conveniences like cup holders, mobile charging point and even a glove compartment that can be turned into a chiller bin! The cherry on the cake undoubtedly was the Harman Infotainment system. We loved the surround sound experience during the drive. I can imagine that with its modern look, all the cool features combined with the trendy SunBurst Ornage colour the Tiago comes in, will be an instant hit in its segment if TML gets its pricing right.
We came back from the drive and hung around the resort till it was time to go. There are a few things I want to mention about this whole experience –
- This was my first blogger’s meet outside the city and I went without any worry knowing that this is an IndiBlogger event. A few people had logistics challenges but I have no complaints. The planning was meticulous. There was a visible effort to make this meaningful for the bloggers too. All the women were provided drops home after reaching their respective cities on Sunday night
- The attention to detail in the whole event was amazing. The drive kicked off in the morning right after breakfast and we got back to the hotel to have lunch. Yet, they had snack boxes in each car for munching during the drive. We checked out of our rooms before the drive. The team had reserved 3 rooms that the bloggers could use to change or generally relax in after the drive. The Tata Motors team was interacting with the bloggers and ensuring that we had a good time.
- The best part of the event was the time I spent with fellow bloggers. We did not lose a second of fun. A group of us played antakshri in the resort Even at Goa airport, as we waited to board, we sat down on the floor and chatted away to glory. BlogwatiG shared gyaan of life in her inimitable style and we called it Mata ki Chowki. This trip would not have been fun without you BWG, Sid, Doc, Anky, UK, Zee, Vee, Ani, AK, Anita, Pooja and all the other bloggers who I connected with. My heartfelt thanks for the good times we had and the friendships we forged…
To end it, I am sharing a video that captures a few Fantastico moments of our drive!