This post offers 5 standalone bits of incidents/interesting information, sourced during my current South India tour in Nano.
1. Roses win hearts
As we were heading from Solhapur to Kolhapur, we paid a visit to Pandit automotives, Sangli. We were all welcomed with a small rose each. Usually flowers go waste after the welcome ceremony, but in our case, it served a unique purpose. One of our drivers had his fiancée in Solhapur. Evening time, he cleverly collected the roses from everyone and took them to shower on his fiancée… So thoughtful no?
We’ve an events team which takes care of hotel and mall events in each city. (At each city we visit in our Nano, this team goes ahead of us and does settings in the Mall and Hotels (where customer meets are scheduled) They carry their materials (backgrounds, standees, games materials etc) in a tourist bus and go to the next city ahead of us to do the preparations. As we travelled across 6 South Indian States in past 26 days, this team has paid a whopping Rs 1.5 lakhs for interstate tourist permit alone (for their tourist bus). Though we’re free to move anywhere in India, if you’ve to move in a vehicle, there’s a heavy price to be paid at each state border… (Toll and other expenses not included)
3. Kolhapur’s Mercedes Connection
Though Kolhapur is a visibly small city with non existent traffic signals, poor roads and other facilities, it houses several rich businessmen and industrialists. Apparently several years ago when a Kolhapur Businessman went to Mumbai to place an order for Mercedes Benz, dealer refused to deliver the car to a small town like Kolhapur. This irritated the businessman, who had a discussion with all his peers in town and they together placed an order for a whopping 110 Mercs. This took entire Merc management, including their Head Office by surprise and eventually, Merc’s second showroom in Maharastra was opened here after Mumbai.
Recently another Maharastrian Town is competing with Kolhapur- Rich men in Aurangabad have recently placed order for 115 Mercs, 60 of them E Class. Unfortunately I couldn’t meet any of those super rich businessmen during my trip, but instead I did spot this guy on the roadside counting crisp currency notes.
4. Fraud Mechanics on Mumbai-Pune Expressway
As we were driving from Mumbai to Pune, we noticed several scooter riders riding slowly on the opposite direction, near Lonavla area where uphill journey starts. We’re told about their Modus Operandi- The roads in the area appear to be straight and plain, but are steadily uphill. The slope may not be obvious to the eyes, but the engine of your car will reciprocate with drop in speed. New car owners or unskilled drivers get worried with the sudden drop in engine response and often pull over concerned. These scooter riders who ride in opposite direction scout for such cars and stop nearby offering to help/suggesting that there’s a mechanic nearby. The Fraud mechanics at this makeshift shop near top of the hill will act like repairing the car and charge you 500-1000 Rs. From there downward slope starts and you’ll cruise happily thinking that your car has been fixed, while in reality it didn’t have any issues at all.
5. Nano Carnival and Nano Seal
At each city, we've Nano Customer Meet, called Nano Carnival. Its more of a party and entertainment than a formal meeting. It involves lots of games and entertainment, music and of course buffet dinner. The entry is by invitation only. (Nano customers in that city, and a few FM Radio winners are invited)
Access control is very critical in events like this, (to ensure that uninvited people do not get in) and after verifying the invitation of the Tata Nano customer, he/she and his/her family members will be let in, after putting a seal on their arms. This seal is the basic rubber stamp with Nano logo on it and helps identify that a person's entry has been confirmed.
Regular party goes are used to this mode of authentication and readily extend their arm for the seal. For others this is a new experience and they take it with good spirit. I've seen a few kids showing discomfort towards this and trying to rub it off...
In Mangalore, one esteemed gentleman, who came pretty late to the event, almost got ignited when the guy manning the door touched his hand to put this seal. "What is this? What are you doing? I'll write to Tata Motors!" was his reaction. The poor guy, who was a college student,working part time for an event management co in Mangalore (to which Tata Motor's event management co Shobiz had sub contracted) was taken aback. The gentleman was eventually allowed in without the seal but I am still wondering what text would have gone into his letter/mail if he were to write about this to tata motors!