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If something doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you — challenge accepted — read about the TVS Wego challenge here.
Scootering around Indian cities can be quite the task. Ask anyone who uses a two-wheeler, and you'll know that manoeuvring through chock-a-block traffic and squeezing through narrow "shortcuts" on your way to work or to meet friends, is a feat in itself. And while the market is flooded with a variety of options, it was on the TVS Wego that we decided to explore Indian cities during this festive season.
The TVS Wego is a scooter designed for the young, out and about, office going professional. With its stylish looks and brilliant colours, it is a scooter that appeals to the heartbeat of the nation — its youth.
The TVS Wego intrigued us. It was time to test the theory. We decided to hop onto the Wego and explore the grand Durga Puja celebrations on the streets of Kolkata. Why, you ask? What better way to ring in the festive month of October, no?
Why Did #WeGo To Kolkata?
Whichever name Kolkata, Kalikot or Calcutta is known by, it remains the capital of West Bengal. The word Kolkata derives from the Bengali term Kôlikata (Bengali: কলিকাতা), the name of one of three villages that predated the arrival of the British, in the area where the city eventually was to be established; the other two villages were Sutanuti and Govindapur.
This charming colonial city developed by the British East India Company, was named the capital of the British Indian empire until 1911, when Delhi was announced as the new capital.
Right from the very beginning, we knew that Kolkata, labelled the "Cultural Capital of India", "City of Processions", "City of Palaces", and the "City of Joy", had enough history to keep us immersed.
That said, we were worried if the massive King Kong (me) and Rajkamal (on the second Wego) would be able to take on the bustling streets of Kolkata during the Durga Puja celebrations or, was this a pie-in-the-sky idea? Time to find out.
To enjoy good health you must exercise. Rajkamal started off with a few pushups, while I preferred to wash down the English Breakfast I just devoured at Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) — our home for the next few days.
Built in 1857, we were told that this is the oldest YMCA building in all of Asia. In fact, a quick glimpse of the establishment will convince you that not much has changed since the 1800s. Kolkata has many dilapidated old buildings that are reminiscent of colonial Calcutta; most of these date back to over 100 years.
After a few profile pic-worth images, we decided to get moving. Having been an avid motorcyclist, this scooter expedition was new territory and surprisingly thrilling. Straight off, we noticed the TVS Wego fired up easily despite the cold rainy weather, and seemed just as eager to explore the City of Joy. The Wego's electric start with accessible kick start made life much easier.
Twenty minutes into the ride, we made frequent stops to check Google maps and get local help with directions. Our plan was to ride through Kolkata and visit some of the most popular and most visited pandals. A local friend recommended the following:
(1) Ekdalia Evergreen - Gariahat
(2) Singhi Park - Gariahat
(3) Ballygunge Cultural Association - Lake Road
(4) Maddox Square - Ritchie Road
(5) Suruchi Sangha - Alipore
(6) Chetla Agragami - Chetla
(7) Deshapriya Park - Rashbehari Avenue
(8) Behala Notun Dol - Behala
(9) Shristi - Behala
(10) Sahajatri - Behala
(1) Md. Ali Park - Central Avenue
(2) College Square - College Street
(3) Lebutola Park - Santosh Mitra Square
(4) Park Circus Maidan - Park Circus 7 Point Crossing
(5) Chaltabagan - Manicktala Lohapatty
(1) Kumartuli Park - Kumartuli
(2) Kashi Bose Lane - Kashi Bose Lane
(3) Adibashi Brinda - Lake Town
(4) Shreebhumi - Lake Town
(5) Tarun Sangha - Dum Dum Park
(6) Baghbazar Sarbajonin - Baghbazar Park
(1) FD Block - Salt Lake
If there is one thing to say to all those people who battle as to whose phone is better, it's this — owning a smartphone does not make you smart. New city, new problems. Quite honestly, despite our clever online maps, we were lost in the City of Joy. Phones were low on charge and our 3G data, as usual, presented connectivity issues. That's when Rajkamal reminded me of the mobile charger provision in the Wego. Very handy, indeed. This was also the perfect time to try out my recent purchase — a 4G SIM card — digital life, I tell you.
The #WeGo Kolkata challenge was harder than we anticipated. New city, new roads, one-way streets, and a very confused Google map was how we spent the first half of the day. Shortly after, we settled down and made our way through the many pandals. The TVS Wego was a breeze to ride, and the manoeuvrability of this 110cc scooter is to be appreciated.
After a few visits, we quickly understood that pandal-hopping would have been rather impossible for us, if we chose to travel on the overcrowded public transport and slow-moving yellow taxi cabs.
The streets of Kolkata was brimming over with high-energy and high-spirited Bengalis. This kind of energy was new and exhilarating to us. Pandal after pandal, we kept reminding ourselves and thanking our lucky stars that we were on the TVS Wego and not other modes of transport.
Most Bangaloreans (our hometown), are ardent fans of metered taxis, however expensive, the unbearable traffic seems to have no price tag. However, #WeGoKolkata has definitely reinforced our faith in riding around on a scooter. It is surely more cost-effective and time-saving compared to metered taxis. In fact, a taxi trip to the North Kolkata pandals (20kms in total) would have cost us a hefty ~ Rs 800 compared to the Rs 25 we spent on the Wego.
So there we go — this was Day 1. At the start of the day, we were confused and clueless; however, as the day progressed, we matched the TVS Wego's zippy attitude and charisma!
By the end of day 1, we were comfortably pandal-hopping, enjoying the city view, and photographing how vivid, vibrant and colourful our TVS Wego looked amidst the mesmerising festivities. We were certainly getting the hang of this. Take a look at a few snapshots from Day 1.
WeGo capture this moment of silent reverence of children amongst the honking madness in Kolkata.
WeGo find ourselves amongst the thousands clicking the goddess in all her glory at the Singhi Park Pandal.
WeGo through a multitude of people to catch another glimpse of the mother goddess at the scene of her biggest victory at the Ekdalia Pandal in Ballygunge.
We're no longer singing the blues as WeGo catch another glimpse of Durga Maa.
Click for Part 2, as the #Wego transitions into Kolkata's nightlife during Durga Puja 2016.