Warning to all readers, especially fellow bloggers:
a) You are going to be jealous.
b) My blog is installed with the latest anti-jealousy software. Nya nya nya nya naa naa!


There are memories and then there are memories.
When Harish from Blogadda first asked me if I would be free for the upcoming weekend without revealing why, my mind immediately flew in various directions. After ruling out the illogical choices, I had narrowed it down to two sensible ones: either he was going to ask me to join him for a bank robbery or he was going to be in the hot seat in KBC and for some weird reason, thought I was the right guy for the "phone-a-friend" option.
As I was brushing up on my "Bank Robbery for Dummies" guide, his reply arrived finally via e-mail.
Turns out, he had something more awesome in mind.

Having got rave reviews from the top authorities on cars in the Indian media, Tata Motors now wanted to see how the Indian public would respond to their new product, the Tata Zest - the culmination of three years of hard work of the company. With the help of Blogadda, 50 of the top bloggers across all blogging genres were invited to come visit the Zuri White Sands Resort in Varca, South Goa.  

Thus, 26th morning saw me catching a couple of flights and getting to meet some of the fellow bloggers at the airport before even reaching the resort, including the super versatile Senthilkumar (who would be my flight buddy throughout the weekend) and fellow WriteTribers Vidya and Shailaja.

WriteTribe
Team Write Tribe: Shailaja, Vidya, Shilpa and me. I did my best to
drive Vidya nuts throughout the weekend but somehow she survived.
Note to self: Will have to try harder at next blogger meet.
The Zuri resort was spectacular, to put it in a nutshell. We were pampered right at the entrance by the staff and warmly greeted by the Blogadda team as well. After getting our rooms sorted out, we headed off for a hearty lunch that truly showcased the best of both Goan as well as international cuisine.



Hotel Zuri , Goa
After freshening up at the neat and pristine rooms, we headed down to the Unicorn hall (the adda that Blogadda had chosen within Zuri resorts for all our blogger activities). The vivacious Ankita greeted us after we had all finally settled down and gave us a brief overview of Blogadda's initiatives and what we were to expect over the weekend. This was followed by a high tea where we got to interact with so many bloggers and people we had only interacted with online till date.

While some of us chose to focus on the awesome "social media" cakes in 4 different flavours, others quickly took a jaunt down to the Varca beach nearby. By the team we reassembled at our adda, our hostess for the evening, Miss Malini too had arrived.




 This was followed by the Masterclass by the big guns of the Tata Motors team ( Please note: Any rumours circulating around the blogosphere that I came for the class armed with a plate and fork because I mistook it for a food Masterclass a la Masterchef Australia are absolutely false unless proven otherwise. )

Anyway, after ditching the plate and fork, I sat down for the class (Front bench! My teachers would have been so proud of me!) and got an idea of exactly what Tata had in mind as they went about creating the Zest. Aware of critical feedback received over the past few years, they had chosen to start all over from scratch looking to create a) a world-class product and b) earn back the trust of the Indian public. The class was not just limited to talks, of course - there were interactive segments where you could test out the ridiculously amazing new infotainment system by Harman-Kardon, try out the new steering wheel on a virtual ride, feel and see the different textures of the seat materials and talk directly to the minds behind the actual design process and engineering.

Hostess Miss Malini with Narain Karthikeyan

With 29 best-in-segment features including some bettering those of a class higher above it, the Zest did sound awesome. You know what was equally awesome? The SURPRISE guest celebrity (whose inputs Tata had taken while designing the new rev-happy engines): the first Formula One Racing driver from India Narain Karthikeyan!
He spoke of his role with the company and after all the discussions were over, was gracious enough to pose for pictures, sign autographs and even have a group selfie with all the bloggers.




The dinner party was again heaven for those who wished to have a taste of Goan cuisine with caffreals, a live seafood counter, cocktails and traditional Goan sweets galore. This was when we all got to unwind, meet up with others and make new friends. When you think about it, isn't that one of the best parts of blogging too?

CaramelWings and ... umm... uh... I think it was Meena?
No, Tina! Reena? Bina? No, that sounds Mallu!
Gee, I sure hope SHE does not find out I forgot her name
AGAIN!!
 
Image courtesy: Shilpa Garg
Test Drive Day:
The next morning, we were up and ready by 7 am, with some even waking up earlier to experience the magic of the sunrise at the beach. After an awesome breakfast spread, we took a mini break to walk around and explore the nearby pool and surroundings before we reassembled at our adda where we were told of our route for the day.

The super bubbly Sushmita :)
With 20 brand new Zests at our disposal, we were divided into teams of three to test drive both the petrol manual and the diesel automatic versions over a total span of nearly 50 kilometres. I had with me the dynamic Aseem Rastogi and super-talented Sneha Sharma.



Image courtesy: Roxanne D'Souza
I'm glad Roxanne got this pic. Lots of respect for these
guys who stood out in the sun for two hours across
South Goa helping us with directions

Over two hours, we took turns driving both versions of the car ( I've reviewed them both here ) and having a whole lot of fun, checking out South Goa on a breezy Sunday morning, stopping to take pics and more selfies before finally returning back at noon to the resort and our adda where the live blogging session was already under way.

Picture that? 50 bloggers from across the country, sitting in a large hall with their laptops blogging simultaneously about their driving and weekend experience! It was a truly memorable moment when you think about it.

With bloggers Hemant (my roommate), ManjulikaSenthilkumar,
AseemSneha and Ritu


Me with team Blogadda: Harish and Ankita. Just look
 at that cute smile. So sweet, so lovable... of course, 
Harish and Ankita have adequate smiles too, I'm sure.
When it was all done, we finally went down for lunch before heading off for the airport where we all parted our separate ways. The car will speak for itself in the days to come, I'm sure but from my side, I really want to bow down in appreciation ( not an easy thing to do, considering my belly ) to the Blogadda team.

Harish, Ankita et al... I know it could not have been easy to make all of this happen. But your hardwork and attention to detail had everything work out perfectly without a single glitch.

Thank you for a truly wonderful experience.



P.S. You can check out the live twitter comments of the weekend with literally hundreds of pictures and opinions from all the bloggers by searching twitter and facebook for the hashtag : #ZestUpYourLife



17 Comments

DeeJ said…
anti jealous software - ROTFL :)
Vidya Sury said…
You're a doll, Roshan! :D Yes, I look forward to the next Blogger meet. And you can never never never get on my nerves. I got anti-get-on-my-nerves software pre-installed in my genes. :D ♥
I could easily kill you! But wouldn't wanna lose a friend.
Now you have ample time to remember my name.!
Very effective software... if only they had a version for humans :D
That's why my super-irritations didn't work! I was also wondering :p
Was awesome to catch up with you finally... lets bug Harish again and get selected for next meet too!
hehe :) will definitely remember now!! Nice to meet you (he said to the girl threatening to kill him) :D
Ritika T said…
I am soooo jealous right now. Goa is my place, and I couldn't be there. you guys had so much fun :(
Shilpa Garg said…
LOL @ anti-jealousy software!! It was good fun last weekend and awesome meeting you, Roshan! :)
hehe... it is true. Sorry to rub salt into those jealousy wounds but this was easily the most awesome bloggers meet ever in the country :)
Was lovely to meet you too after all these years :D
Good to read an account of this event. I would have loved to take a pic with Mr. Karthikeyan. J. :)

Destination Infinity
Sushmita said…
Reading the posts make me relive those days again! Amazingly written Roshan! I liked the seriousness of the post! :P
:D haha.. it is a measure of how awesome the meet was that Narain just merited a paragraph in the whole article..
I know.. I realize this post is very serious compared to the others. As you know, I have to maintain a conduct befitting of my noble profession so I can't joke around like the others
*starts doing lungi dance in the hospital ward*
Anonymous said…
Very well written Roshan! And, yes, the smile is very cute and lovable. Don't see why anybody wouldn't love it... and I also gave a glance to yours at last... :D
blasphemy!!! You insult da smile!!! This is war! We will ask Blogadda to take us back to Zuri so that I may have my revenge upon you there ( after a 48 hr preparation phase at the hotel of course, while using up all the amenities )
Punam said…
Overdose of happiness?
Swamiji.. mujhko bhi bheja tha kya sapne mein?
:) :) :)
Now I know!! I was wondering where I was getting all these happy moments from!!
Thanks Guru ji........