Day 0 : It’s a start!
The trip began rather…ummm…nicely. We decided to take the road to Pune. Now I should tell you that we had just decided the previous day to go for the Proficiency Program on Global Safety Regulations and Crash Analysis organized by ARAI, the Automotive Research Association of India. With its vast repertoire of programs and the FIA following ECE regulations, it felt like something that we couldn’t really give it a miss. Also, it would be a nice platform to meet some of the very best of the industry and research and maybe get the chance to show them something about our SolarMobil. Our group comprised five of our team, Anudeep, Siva, Siddhant, Sooriya and Amol.
Back to the road then. We took a bus; it was rather comfortable. But the most amazing part was the drive through the Western Ghats, flanked on both sides by swaths of greenery, with little streaks of streams meandering among them.
Day 1 : The Climb (not the Miley Cyrus one)
Not the most auspicious start. The hotel was already booked till evening. So we dragged our bags for close to five kilometres. It was some experience, climbing a hill decked in bags and suitcases.
The first few minutes were something of a shock. The sheer number of people who were light years ahead of us, having worked in the industry for as long as they had, brought us firmly back to earth. Hearing them speak about the challenges in safety that the automobile industry has faced, only put into perspective the challenges that lay ahead of us, both in our thought processes and our design.
The last leg of the day involved a visit to the crash laboratory for a test on a dummy. It is really hard to get your head around the sheer magnitude of forces that a crash generates. For us, till now, it had just been a series of numbers on our laptop screens.
Day 2 : Errr….
The room was…err…something. Perhaps its most defining feature was the lack of a washbasin. We’ll not get into more details on that front.
While the first day was all about dealing with the challenges of crash as a whole, this time around we got into more specifics, going over every feature and the requisite regulations and even solutions. Just to give you an idea about the amount of thought that has gone into these, let me tell you that the standard for seatbelt regulations according to the ECE is over a hundred pages long!
Day 3 : Burp! All the way.
By now, we had started to question ourselves a little. I have to say that there were moments I have never felt more like a kid. We were simply blown out of the water. It was a little depressing.
So the evening was more about blowing some steam off. We stepped out in the light drizzle (the rains had doggedly followed us all the way). A little way off, we found the perfect place. A small place, with a roof raised on bamboos serving some of the best Chinese we had in a while. Plates of steaming hot noodles made their way onto our table and we chomped it all down. It was only later that we found that this tiny place, seemingly inconspicuous was actually burp! certified.
Day 4 : Ready, Set …Crash!!!
A good night’s rest coupled with some of the best food going around does wonders for you.
The next day was a little more to our liking. More of the crash and bang stuff; all about the crashes.
Day 5 : Asta la vista
The last day was upon us. And it had been some five days. We found people who were genuinely appreciative and interested in our project. And they were more than ready to help us out in what way they could. At this point in time I would like to make a mention of one Mr. Nithin kumar. He is the technical director of Wissen Baum and the one person that we were most grateful to have met on our trip. He helped us across the board, right from how to market ourselves to the potential sponsors to tiniest technicalities in our car.
The Valedictory Function :
That’s how we rounded things off, with the Valedictory function. For most of the time we were completely dwarfed by some of the other delegates, who had a plethora of experiences to draw upon; so it was quite a surprise when one of our very own, Siddhant was adjudged 2nd in the conference.
It had been quite a whirlwind of an experience. We probably learned more in those five days than the rest of the last four months. It was time to go our separate ways. Sid and Anudeep were off to Mumbai, the city of dreams while the rest of them stayed back, undeterred in their hunt for companies.
Special Mention: The tea at ARAI…sometimes I think, Sooriya would get up only for it.