The Heritage Drive

“You think that I don’t even mean a single word I say
It’s only words and words are all I have to take your heart away”

These eternal Words (pun intended) by yesteryear band Boyzone immediately came to my
mind when I decided to write this travelogue. Since “words are all I have”, what I share in
this travelogue is grave injustice to the experience I have had over the 3-day period!

It all started with a call from my co-founder telling me about this rally. Since my wife was
not interested, I decided to forgo. But deep-down I wanted to be a part of the rally. So, I
checked in my office and luckily for me, I found a partner in PD (yeah, that’s what everyone calls him). We instantly started the formalities rolling and mind you, there were lots of them. Rally insurance, rally license, health certificate and many others. But the team at The Heritage Drive headed by Mrs. Vijayalakshmi and Mrs. Supriya made it a breeze. A respectful mention to Mr. Sujith and his crew who ensured that all things rally – Tulip charts, checkpoints and results were in good hands. The entire team was very professional, polite and helpful right from the start. We were shortly joined by PD’s friend DJ (yeah, that’s what I wanted to call him). As they say, “And then there were three” – PD, DJ and yours truly VJ.

One week prior to the rally, there was an orientation program which introduced us to the
wonderful world of TSD rallies. They had also invited two national racing champions to
share their experiences and (maybe) to get our lazy blood pumping. I must say it worked
and we were all charged up. We collected our bag of seed balls which had to be dispersed
through the course of the rally.

The moment of truth finally arrived! The start was from the picturesque Miraya Greens and the chief guest was none other than Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar, the Maharaja of the Kingdom of Mysore. Who would have thought that all of our cars would be flagged-off by him? It was truly a Kodak moment!

A sumptuous breakfast was arranged which we devoured. We collected our rally books and
had our pencils and calculators ready. PD was the driver, I was the navigator and DJ was,
well, sleeping in the back seat. Don’t get me wrong, he works night shifts and had to rest.
Off we went. And navigate I did. Very. Very. Wrongly. We lost our way on the first turn
itself. Could you imagine? The first turn. The dream turn. Dream it was but as a nightmare! PD went ballistic, rightfully so. The thing with a TSD rally is – you make one mistake, you just ignore the time lost and move on. It will cost you dear if you try to catch up as it has a cascading effect which we were not aware of (more on it later). In a TSD rally you have to cover a certain distance over a specified time. You can’t cover it early or late. Arriving late is actually better as the penalty for arriving early is double. Possibly because “Speed thrills but kills”.

As we lost a lot of time trying to figure out the right turn, we decided to make up for lost
time in the subsequent sections. We arrived early, comparatively, in the subsequent
checkpoints and felt proud of our achievement. After all, we were on time. We stopped for lunch at a residential school. Traditional South Indian dishes comprising of obbattu, enne-
, and kosambari were placed on our plates. What a feast it was to our mouth. We started our drive again. It was beautiful – covered with trees and chirping of birds. We enjoyed nature. Sometimes answered it as well! We reached our hotel Hyatt Place, Hampi at 7:30PM to rest our tired souls after a long day’s drive.

Before we could shut our eyes, the results of Day 1 were announced. We were excited as we
fared well, at least according to us. We opened the Leaderboard and started searching for
our team name “Smooth Snailing”. We scrolled down and down and down. “Where is our
team name?”, we were shouting in our minds. Finally, we saw it at position 26 and a penalty of 48 minutes. “What?” was our expression, staring at each other’s eyes. We talked to fellow competitors and realized our mistakes. Mistake #1: Missing the turn. Mistake #2: Playing catch-up to account for lost time. Mistake #3: Not having a clear picture of the rules. Mistake #4: Doing all these mistakes at once.

The start of Day 2 was filled with excitement as we would be witnessing the grandeur of
Hampi. The real reason though was that we were wiser! We started our drive and took the
first turn the right way. Aren’t we smarter? We drove exactly as laid out in our rally books.
The right speed. The right time. The right way. And there we were at a train junction a
minute later. As our stars would have it, the gates closed as soon as we arrived. “Ok, that’s
an out-of-syllabus question. How do we deal with this now?”. I started the stopwatch to
calculate the amount of time lost. By the time the gates opened, the timer showed “7
minutes and 42 seconds”. We had to re-calculate all our calculations. DJ was a blessing in
disguise. He did all the math. He checked it and re-checked it. I asked him to re-check again which he politely did, but with a frown on his face. We had the new numbers and a newer enthusiasm. We followed it to the T. In Hampi, we visited a big house. Bigger than every other house in that town. It was an old house but “touched upon” to make it stronger and a little modern. The owner explained the rich heritage associated with the land and how the house was built centuries ago. He was kind enough to let all of us tour his house at our own pace. When he told that his name was Krishnadevaraya, I was like, of course in my mind, “Isn’t it cliched?”. When he revealed that he is the 19th generation of the greatest emperor of the Vijayanagara Empire Krishnadevaraya himself, I was shell shocked. I had never seen a member of any royal family before. Two times in two days, that’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We then witnessed Hampi in all its glory. We had hired a professor who explained the carvings and the stories underneath. The most memorable moment was when he showed us the inverse image of the “gopura” via a small hole in the wall and described its significance. That design was thought to be invented by the Europeans in the 19th century but we have had it for centuries before that. Hats off to the architect who designed it, he is an unsung genius!

Day 2 results were out. We now stood at position 24 and a penalty of only 2 minutes. We
did something right! But what was even better was a night of fabulous instrumental music
by our very own artists who participated in the drive.

The final Day 3 was jam-packed. Checkout at hotel. Take pictures. Enjoy the air of Hampi
one last time. Get ready for the drive back to Bangalore. It was more of a speed rally as we
had to cover a lot of distance. Freestyle-driving if you will. Our drive ended at Heera Farms, a farmhouse located near Yelahanka, outskirts of Bangalore. The chief guests were Prakash Belawadi and Rukmini Vijayakumar. I started pinching myself. Four famous celebrities in three days. I must have done something good in my previous life! A gala event was organized to honour the winners. The top three teams were all-women teams. How cool is that. Three cheers to women. We ended at position 22 and a penalty of 19 minutes. I am glad you asked!

The entire event was planned, organized and executed professionally without any hiccups. A big thank you to the entire team for conceptualizing this one-of-a-kind The Heritage Drive and making it truly spectacular. A special mention again to Mrs. Vijayalakshmi and Mrs. Supriya for working tirelessly behind the scenes and ensuring that the entire event runs like clockwork. Their code worked wonders.

I have enjoyed it thoroughly and so has everyone who participated. I will take with me beautiful memories, some captured on camera and some imprinted in my heart. “When is the next such drive?” is the only answer I am eager to hear.

As a Software Engineer, I have to end this article on a technical note – The one thing that makes my job easier is “VS Code”. I am happy the same is true for the rally as well. Get the hint?

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