Monday, December 14, 2015

The ZICAnalacious Rendezvous

Well, I'm writing this post with a very different mindset-
1. Because I'm pretty much overshooting on the pre-defined deadlines set by my boss (and I haven't even started)
2. Because I have a wedding shoot to cover in the evening and my 35 mm pancake hasn't even arrived from the cleanser yet.
3. Because it was our official book-launch day yesterday, it's called the "SoulCity- Inside Stories from Calcutta", my first publication as an author and photographer...I'm too overwhelmed by the gravity of the moment.
4. Because I have to start packing for my official tour to the North-East and
5. Because one of my research papers on has gone into the reviewer's room for the second time and I am extremely anxious..!

 Scenes from the "Made of Great" Bloggers Meet in Goa: And he watches them sail along
© Sammya Brata Photography
Way too many excuses I see, but that's how it actually shaped up. I still remember that "dreadful call" on the eve of our Goa trip- "Sammya, I think we need your help in submitting a bid document tomorrow; you might need to travel to one of our neighboring states early in the morning on Saturday."
Good Lord! This has happened so many times in the past, and this time it was quite a critical assignment...saying "NO" was perhaps not even an option. Umm...so I decided to resort to my all-time favorite excuse-
"Dear Sir, you are pretty much aware of the fact that I am suffering from spondylosis for a while now; I've been also traveling incessantly due to work. Please excuse me for this outstation travel, it's not recommended by the doctors. Yours sincerely." ;)

Scenes from the "Made of Great" Bloggers Meet in Goa: Umm something brewing in here ;)
© Sammya Brata Photography
And it worked. I do realize that I'm running into the risk of being tracked down and sued by my boss, who incidentally follows my blog...but then at least I'm 50% honest. I've been asked not to drive for a stretch of 6 months at least because of this poignant blight...it's a rather suffocating exercise, but then that's how it is. Anyway, to cut the long story short...with so many "ifs and buts" piling up before the "Big-Fat" bloggers meet in Goa organized by Indiblogger and Tata Motors, I knew that something "incredible", something rather "fantastic(o)" was being chiseled out...it sure promised to be one heck of a ride. My colleagues keep saying that "Goa is my second home" considering the number of times I've been there in the last couple of years...."I think you know Goa better than Calcutta now?" ; and guess what, they are pretty much on the money with this one. Yes, if Calcutta is my "SoulCity", Goa is definitely my muse...there are a hell lot of congruity between the two cities- the people, the heritage buildings, the "doors and windows", the ingrained colors and of course the sense "euphoria" and "freedom"- I have participated in a number of "photo-hunts" in Goa and the experiences have been memorable. I have also stayed in a number of 'exquisite' resorts in Goa and must mention that our stay at the Alila Diwa, was refreshingly different. It's a beautiful property indeed, flanked by a dash of greens.

Scenes from the "Made of Great" Bloggers Meet in Goa: The 'gorgeous Alila Diwa' :)
© Sammya Brata Photography
5 Key Take-aways from the "Made of Great" Bloggers Meet in Goa

1. Bloggers are fantastico collaborators:- Nah, I'm not even making an attempt to draft the 'minutes of the meeting' from our spontaneous "round-table" post-dinner discussion with accomplished bloggers like Arvind Sir, Anindya; I'm stressing on the very fact that bloggers with absolutely diverse genres coming together for such an unique event, is nothing less than sensational. Somebody had subtly raised this question in his/her registration form, and I would like to assert that it was quite a defining moment indeed.  It goes without saying that I'm really looking forward to the 'assorted' perspectives presented in the post-event blog-posts; could actually turn out to be a great case study. The fact that I have personally worked in a couple of recent blogger-and-author-collaborations, made it all the more interesting. It was great to learn that people have actually taken up blogging as a full-time profession and doing pretty well in that respect. I strongly feel that this event would form the basis of glorious blogger-collaborations in the near future.
2. Bloggers are extremely jocular:- I won't take names here, because of the simple fact that I might get trolled by the others (LOL!). I don't know whether the others would agree on this, but from what I gathered, some of the bloggers are funnier in real life than their blogs. And that makes it all the more interesting, you have been following their posts...you have been sketching their imaginary 'portraits' in your mind; and when you get to meet them in person and they 'outstrip' your hypothesis...you are taken aback in ecstasy. Candid interactions are vitally important in such blogger engagements because it allows you to quickly get out of your shell and stitch long-lasting bonds. Bloggers can be talented "Cartoonists" too, we did get to see a glimpse of their talent while performing one of the tasks during the drive. The "Mata Ki Chowki" hosted by our beloved Vinita-ji at the Dabolim Airport was just outlandish, we were almost on the verge of being thrown out of the airport I presume? Anyway Vinita-ji, I'm still waiting for those "prized portraits"...before you decide to put them on Shaadi dot com. 
3. Bloggers love their selfie-sticks:- This is something that I have been observing for long enough and the "Made of Great" bloggers meet in Goa was no exception. Yes, but the number of selfie sticks that we got to see this time around would perhaps break all the possible records registered so far. As a street photographer, I am more interested in capturing unprejudiced, guileless expressions and we got to see plenty of this under those "prized selfie sticks". To begin with, I was rather self-phobic...in-fact I had mentioned this specifically on my Instagram bio (that is pretty much a street-photography based handle); but then I slowly but surely realized that selfies are pretty handy, especially when the days of "self-timered" portraits are gone. Of course, being a huge fan of contemporary "self-portraits", I do feel that the art of taking selfies is evolving with every passing day...do take a look at some of the bus-fies, car-fies, room-fies and beech-fies shared by the fellow bloggers...there's a lot of learn for sure.
4. Bloggers are amazing singers:- Goodness gracious me, this is what I call "endowment"; being a trained classical singer I do realize how difficult it is to stitch those floating notes together into a rather mellifluous track...that too without prior rehearsal. BOY! I have had butterflies in my stomach already...and then we had the company of uber-cool bloggers like Rahul, MaitreniVaisakhi, Vinita who literally blew us away with their crooning skills. Special mention goes to both Cyrus (our host for the evening) and Vinita (popularly known as "BlogwatiG") for their mind-blowing rap-rendition, that was an amazing partnership indeed...you might just grab a decent sponsorship from Indi-Music when in launches in 2050. Also, Mr. Pratap Bose, Head of Design, Tata Motors can easily appear for the Indian Idol auditions next year...there's some serious potential in there. BOY! So much to talk about out here...who would have thought that a blogger's meet could actually turn out to be a glorious rendezvous of thoughts, ideas, vivacity and "flair".
5.  Bloggers are safe drivers:- Well, the fact that we returned home "without a scratch" is proof enough. The last time I drove at the BIC, I had clocked a whopping 240 Km/hr...and once you taste the "raw" charm of speed, it's very difficult to hold on to your horses. Thankfully Roshan (during our Zesty drive in Goa few months back) and Anindya (this time around) ensured that I never get a chance to grab the steering wheel. It's vitally important for the driver to adapt to a rather "alien" machine, and the fact that he has an additional responsibility of being the "carrier" makes it slightly challenging. Thankfully, all the team leads (who effectively turned out to be the chauffeurs- LOL) did a great job in negotiating the bends and loops of the picturesque Goan boulevard. The fact that we weren't fatigued after a 4 hour long drive proved that the driving was exceptionally proficient (and to take away a bit of "pride", the car was brilliant too). I also have this rather annoying trait of halting precipitously mid-way through the drive, just to jump out of the car and take a few street-snaps...and guess what, I precisely did the same this time around. Credit, of course, goes to my two team-mates Avantika and Anindya for bearing with me right through the course! The tasks/challenges that were thrown in by the bloggers from across the country on twitter made it all the more interesting and in turn, presented to me enough opportunities to click photographs- the replenishing appetite of a photo-blogger; always looking around for 'frames"!!


5 Key Aspects of the Tata Zica (ZIppy CAr) that blew me away

1. Looks like Tata had a Fashion Blogger in the Design team - Ermm, no..before you start assuming things, I DO NOT have a soft corner for beauty bloggers...it's just that I have shot for a number of them and I love the association. I think the Tata Zica is substantial level up with respect to it's "seniors" in the family tree; fresh memories from the "Zesty" ride flock in as I write this...ZICA has undoubtedly has the "WOW" factor ingrained in it. It's just the kind of a design that will immediately attract your attention...and as they call it a "young" ...rather a "fresh" variant, it has that alluring charm. As a photo-blogger, who roams around the Streets of Calcutta in search of colors, a generous dose of sunburst orange adds that newer dimension called a "Photogenic creation". The first glimpse of the Zica, when it emerged from the "Depths" of the Locker Room and I had made up my mind- "That's my model for the next fashion shoot". The unique tail-lamps and the horizontal grille add to the splendor; the accessories of a classy model. Now that Messi, the youth icon, is their brand ambassador, there's all the more reason to fall in love with it's "Exuberant design". Rating: 9/10 for the first impression it created on my mind...a photographer & car-enthusiast's unbiased POV.

Scenes from the "Made of Great" Bloggers Meet in Goa: The 'ravishing' Tata Zica ;)
© Sammya Brata Photography
2. Looks like the Zica could be a virtuoso's paradise - Yo, my favorite ConnectNEXT, that's a Tata Signature, makes a glorious comeback in Zica with the bliss of Harman Kardon Infotainment system transforming your ride into a symphonic one. Studded with a series of 8 speakers and surround sound technology, I reckon, this could be the "ideal road-trip vehicle", stack up your play-list with riveting numbers and experience the spirit of on-road euphoria. A special mention goes to the inventive Juke-Car App that pretty much allows you to control the playlist even from the back-seat; this is indeed a boon because people sitting behind often complain that the driver or the person sitting beside has full liberty of choosing what song to play- that becomes quite a pain during long drives. Tada, why should "they" have all the fun? Through this app, one can create an assorted playlist simply using their mobile phones and there you go; the song navigation system is pretty user friendly too...and of course the audio-quality is MIND-BLOWING. We did the acid test by rolling the windows up and switching the audio volume right up-to it's maximum threshold- BOY!! That was breathtaking! The turn-by-turn voice navigation system is another great addition indeed, but at times, it does become a distraction since the music stops abruptly in the process. Rating: 8/10 because of it's impact on a music lover..!!

Scenes from the "Made of Great" Bloggers Meet in Goa: The 'ravishing' Tata Zica;)
© Sammya Brata Photography
3. Every long-lasting relationship needs sufficient "space"- They say, "Do not judge a Facebook Profile only by the Display Picture", you should "step in" and see what's inside. And surprisingly for a relatively compact looking hatchback from the exterior, Zica is extremely spacious inside. There's enough of leg-room (especially for the back-row) in there...that's an extremely critical parameter while judging the overall "comfort" factor of an automobile and the seats are very comfortable indeed. The textile quality (that includes the seat covers) used and the ergonomic contour is indeed gratifying. The fact that Roshan could fit in there and drive for so long, is proof enough (:D). The boot-space (242 L to be precise) is pretty sizable too, now you know why I corona-ted Zica as a premium "the road-trip car". I won't risk dumping my camera accessories in there for sure, but it certainly has enough "space" hold an entire set of archived files stacked in a Government office. Not to forget the abundance of utility storage space (22 slots) inside the car where tea/coffee cups as well as bottles of soft-drinks can rest; they have actually displaced the hand-brake slightly to create this additional and much needed space. You have no clue what a fantastic addition this is. It is also equipped with the 9th generation ABS, for that extra bit of refuge. Rating: 8/10 for striking a balance between the interior & the exterior. Amen!!

Scenes from the "Made of Great" Bloggers Meet in Goa: The 'ravishing' Tata Zica;)
© Sammya Brata Photography
4. Saves more so that you can opt for an extra scoop of ice-cream- For a diesel variant equipped with a 1.05 L Engine, clocking 19.6 Km/L right at the end is nothing less than phenomenal. That is quite a bit of saving considering the regular surge in fuel prices. And considering the fact that we drove at a moderate speed right through the journey, the experience was pleasant. The car is perhaps custom-made to suit the "Rush-hours" in city-life where would need a calm head and amicable patience in order to reach your destination. The car did ensure a smooth and cozy experience in-spite of the occasionally rangy terrain; however the acceleration quotient is perhaps "average" I would say. One thing is for sure, if you are straight out of the sets of "NFS Underground", this is not your type...I think it was a brilliant decision for me not to drive, no nitro-boosters in this one for sure. I'd say, I'm slightly disappointed with the fact that the petrol variants make relatively more sound than the counterparts while accelerating; something that the engineers might need to look at closely. Rating: 7/10 because of the fuel efficiency factor...!!

Scenes from the "Made of Great" Bloggers Meet in Goa: The 'ravishing' Tata Zica;)
© Sammya Brata Photography
5. Looks like it's pretty much "within my range"- I've been good with predictive analysis in college and testing of hypothesis too. From what I deduce, Tata would hold on to their forte of creating splendid fuel-efficient and design-enriched vehicles that are pretty much affordable; analyzing from the point of view of middle-class families, Tata, historically has been their best bait. The car hasn't been launched officially (scheduled to happen in January 2016), neither have the "figures" been disclosed...but from the smile on Delna's face, it's pretty much evident that we are in for a surprise here as well. We have seen how Tata has effectively marketed their path-breaking creations - the Zest and the Bolt, no wonder Messi's entry into the scheme of this has added that extra bit of zing to their latest addition- The Zica. I reckon the Zica would pretty much fall in the < 5 L range; that considering the advanced features and upgrades, is an incredible "WIN" for all us out here- the car-enthusiasts. No rating - it is the benchmark.

Scenes from the "Made of Great" Bloggers Meet in Goa: The 'ravishing' Tata Zica;)
© Sammya Brata Photography
Scenes from the "Made of Great" Bloggers Meet in Goa: The 'ravishing' Tata Zica;)
© Sammya Brata Photography
Scenes from the "Made of Great" Bloggers Meet in Goa: The 'ravishing' Tata Zica;)
© Sammya Brata Photography
Super thanks to the entire Indiblogger crew- Anoop, Vineet and Naveen (and of course Renie who's coaching Brett Lee in Australia right now ;)), the Tata Motors core team- Pratap Bose (Head of Design), Delna Avari (Head of Marketing and Communications), Anand Kulkarni (GM, Vehicle Integration) and our favorite host and dost Cyrus Sahukaar for making this happen. We should do this more often you know, helps immensely in bridging the gap between the brand and it's consumers.

Scenes from the "Made of Great" Bloggers Meet in Goa: On the boulevard of reincarnated dreams
© Anindya S Basu
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