Being an automobile enthusiast my only source for outside information on cars was automotive magazines and baseless thoughts on their cars and other cars by not so informed people around. As a part of being informed on things, I went behind information and I landed on team-bhp.com. This is short note on how I got in, and how it helped me. This may look like some promo for team-bhp.com but it is not.
Men and Cars are natural pairs. Ending up being a car fanatic (Automobile Enthusiast)is quite normal for any guy. There are motorbike lovers, off-road enthusiasts, highway crazy, trucks etc. So within the same set of petrol-heads there are subcategories based on what they love. For me learning driving was a pretty difficult thing as my immediate teacher was highly impatient, yes my dad. And another thing learning driving or being on the steering wheel back home – you will have the ill fate of being subject advice and lectures of people who are either pathetic drivers or who doesn’t know anything about it. Driving license from the Transport Department and the approval to use the car from within the family are 2 things or hurdles which were in front of me then. It was pretty much the same for many I know (I don’t think this is just in Kerala though). Soon after I was certified by the government and rest of the family members, I entered the exploration stage where everyone tries everything with their cars. Not Literally! Looking at my mere 50-60 bhp Tata Indica, my options were less, above all I was not that keen on the famous drifts!, drags! & screeches! (Thanks to NFS Underground). To sum up – adventure mainly comprised long drives within the political boundary of the district. So to become a pro (professional) driver when you manage those crazy maneuvers or you end up doing some superfast overtakes etc. That fun, I too have tried but not too much on my own car, because I was not sure of it, and the car never delivered anything astonishing for such an adventure and I always had a feeling of breaking something. So its more or less low confidence and love for the car I drive. This was back when I got my Driving License may be say 2003-2007 time, those 5 years you start learning to drive, appear the test and then you try solitary drives, fun drives and end up being a reliant driver in the family. Aircraft Pilots get different levels of certification based on the number of flying hours added, likewise at home this certification comes when everyone in the family is quite convinced on the driving skills. So in our small family of 5 I was the next after my dad (Appa) to accomplish the same. Quite an achievement as we are three boys and I was the second.
My Car : Whenever I came down home from Bangalore during my college and 2 years of working there, I made sure that I get out on a drive every day I was at home. Entire family loved these drives, thanks to Muthanga (Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary) which is just at 6 KM from home. And back home we had a handful of options for an evening drive, again Mudumalai in Tamil Nadu and Bandipur in Karnataka were anyway within the 15KM range. Soon after I moved permanently to Cochin, almost a year after our new car, our old Indica became my new partner. It started taking long drive duties again after more than a year. Long drives, hair pins, exposure to Kochi heat, bumper to bumper traffic and of course Cochin is blessed with some of the worst roads we could ever see in Kerala (The statement holds valid even today, 2 years since). This started acting tough on my Indica, still nothing could beat the fuel efficiency of the car.
At the garage: Having taken the car to a service station on my own, I started realising the pains, effort and of course the process of the maintenance of a car. Great way to do it as it was an Indica, visits were to an extend regular luckily spares weren’t that expensive, but my utmost objective was to maintain it in good health.
The Challenge: The biggest challenge I had is when the Works Manager tried to explain the mechanical side – of which, more than 50% of the stuff were alien to me. The automotive magazines that I’ve been reading never helped. In that context, I started searching for spares on Google and that’s when I landed up on one article/discussion online about maintenance of cars, etc. Digging deep into the website, I found this purely utilitarian, unattractive designed, black and red webpage called as www.team-bhp.com. The discussion on each of the forum on each cars, maintenance, technical etc were exactly what I was looking for. It even gave the freedom to ask the most stupidest of the questions I have and I was answered by peers and far more experienced car fanatics and it even helps to tell the works manager at a service center on what to do. Now I go to Kairali Ford or KTC Mahindra with the cars at least once in every month, before I walk in I know what to tell them, as I do an initial research among the users of the same car in tbhp before meeting the service head.
BHPian: I took about 2 months for me to be a member of the forum and from that, I started spending a lot of time on reading the Forum and Articles; Interacting with a lot of people with similar auto interests online, reading on the maintenance, cleanliness of cars and above all the detailed car reviews, like we wish we were told during the purchase. I can easily list down 5-6 features, utilities etc of my Ecosport which I never knew before reading the review on TBHP. When it comes to my XUV500 i found a lot of co-owners who had issues, who had them sorted and also a lot tech features and utilities which I never knew. My trusted partner was The Autocar on car reviews till date. I have been reading THE AUTOCAR magazine for about 7 – 8 years now, now I do not remember the last time I’ve bought one, though I still love reading them, all my car related queries are now taken up by tbhp. Talking about car reviews, I even have a topic under working on car reviews alone. Car reviews across channels, newspapers and auto magazines across Kerala. (I can write on anything here, coz I am not a writer or professional blogger so – no critics!)
Another important change is the urge for long drives, tbhp has a great set of short and long travelogues. My favorite is J.Ravi a 60 year young gentleman (Link to the article : mahindra-xuv500-w8-fwd-my-pet-purple-cheetah.html ) who takes his XUV across India and updates every drive he has taken, that has become some sort of text-book to follow. There are many to add in the list, reading them makes me feel that I am doing nothing and the drives I take makes me look too old the way I treat driving.
I am also an avid follower of www.defencenews.in and idrw.org, because I love reading on Defence, Military, Navy – AirForce both on the Strategic Side and also on the political side, which was quite natural for a petrolhead. I also found a group of articles on various Military Hardware like Fighter Planes, Vessels etc and since it was a forum I found the right place to answer a good set of queries or clarifications I had. On both defencenews.in and idrw.org the comments side are not moderated and it ends up being some sort of Facebook comments on posts. Still, not as bad as what you see on http://www.manoramaonline.com.
Team-bhp.com: Tbhp is synonym for great drivers – car lovers, thought most of the cars with the “Live to drive” or “got-bhp” may not be actually members of the forum as the Stickers can be bought online without being a member.
Though tbhp doesn’t take care of your needs personally, it only gives a platform for us to help ourselves. It also inspired my thoughts by showing a lot of DIY’s from fellow bhpians who save a lot of money and effort by doing so, be it in your car, garage, accessories. Now at office, when it is sunny I make sure that my wipers are pulled up, I make sure that I do not eat inside the car, I demand proper care for my car at the service station, I drive safe on patchy roads, drive without AC wherever possible, ensure that I do 30 sec to 2 min engine idling before running or stopping the engine, very careful in where I park, and of course keep reading tbhp for more updates and things to take care of about the car.
Note : Other than being a member of TBHP, I am no way associated to the business side of the organization. I wanted to use this as a basement for writing more on cars, and being a member gives me more credibility.