Thursday, June 14, 2007

Maxi oh Maxi…and this one is not a feminine garment.

A few days ago, I saw an advertisement on electric scooters in the newspaper. I sat down to do some calculations about saving money (the kind I was oblivious to only a month back). The E.S. runs at a cost of 10 paisa per kilometer; that means commuting to and fro from my work would cost me 2 rupees a day! My present wasp (Vespa-Italian for wasp) gives an efficiency of >40Kms/litre. Consequently, I spend roughly 23 rupees a day (+2 rupees parking charge!! OH GOD! This cannot be me!). If I take the local bus, it’ll cost me less that half that money (10 rupees) and if I buy an electric scooter, it’ll cost me one-tenth what the wasp costs me. That was it, I had to buy the ES and it sure looked nice in the advertisement.

Today I went to have a look at it myself. The only one worth giving a look (even once) was the top end model named Maxi. I wasn’t too happy about this, but I still asked for a test drive. I asked him to start it, he answered that it was already “on”…no sound, why would there be any!!
I sat and pushed the throttle, it had a surprisingly peppy pickup. MAN!! It was weird, the thing just jumped forward…I was expecting it to be much more dead than this. One problem was that it was a bit too small for my legs which blocked the handle from moving in any direction but straight. The sales guy suggested that I shift towards the back to accommodate my legs…heck! By the time my legs were comfortable, my ass had reached the rear seat and I was holding the handle with my outstretched hands like they do in chopper-bikes.
Maxi is powered by 4 batteries, each of which costs 1500rupees and last for ~ a year and a half, i.e., an expense of Rs 6000 roughly every year (only if you take good care of it, .i.e., no overcharging or undercharging.) and there’s a possibility to incur this expense sooner if you’re careless even once. The insurance charges are Rs 700 per annum). That brings us to a running cost of Rs. 700 per annum (electricity cost…incase the electricity charges do not increase and I do not move around too much on the ES) + Rs. 6000 (batteries…there’s fat possibility that I’ll screw the batteries before one year…I cannot be accurate about its charging all 365 days a year…so this expense could actually range from 6000-12000rupees or even more in a worst case scenario) + Rs 700 (insurance). This brings us to a total of Rs 7400 (best case scenario). By using the ES, I had planned to save Rs 6000 per annum (when I had only considered the running cost of 10paisa per kilometer). Considering all the aspects, it turned out that this was going to be an even more expensive proposition that my good old wasp.
Then came in the final blow, the guy told me that the top speed of the ES was 25kms/hour!!!!!!!!!! WHAT? “Are you kidding me”, I almost shouted in disbelief. The salesman explained that since the vehicle didn’t require registration, it was deliberately given less power. Less Power? That’s no power at all…what the use of that entire pickup if it’s unable to take you beyond a limit; the limit being so limited. I just shrugged my shoulders and came out. I looked at my wasp with a new found respect.
As an experiment, I decided to go all the way home at a speed of 25Km/hr to have the ES experience (the whole 10 kilometers). I realized that my wasp would not go any slower than 30km/hr on the 4th gear; this was faster than the ES’s top speed. I went on and on and on…and almost slept off. It was difficult to manage some turns with the heavy traffic, but I stuck with my commitment of 30 km/hr. The distance between 2 roundabouts seemed unending, but I didn’t dare go faster than 30 km/hr. Scoots, mo-bikes and cars (and even bicycles) whizzed past and overtook me. By now, I wasn’t the only one feeling humiliated, even my wasp didn’t like it. After ages, I reached home and for the last 50 meters, revved up the wasp to its max. Oh! What a relief! I thought I’d grown old, mature and slow, but I guess 27 is not the right age to be traveling at 27km/hr; I’ll do that when I’m 97.
With all my dreams of helping the environment and my pocket, gone down the drain, I’m seeing the Bajaj Avenger 180-DTS-I with a new found interest; a cruiser is surely something that’ll look good under me. India is probably the only country where they have a fuel efficient cruiser. Avenger (the stronger reincarnation of the Kawasaki-Eliminator) is a wonderful combination of good-power, moderate-fuel-economy and fantastic-styling; it has been on my “gotta have it” list for a long time now…and I will have it in another 6 months time. No my friend, I can’t travel at 25km/hr, my life will pass me by in the time that it’ll take to reach home from sector 17…I choose the Avenger and would rather go at a 100km/hr!!

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