Recently I had a chance to interview Chirag Saraswati, one of the participants of NDTV Volvo XC Adventure. It’s one of a kind competition in India, which you can participate in, if you have real love for wrooming engines and spinning wheels. What I got to hear from Chirag, NDTV Volvo XC Adventure was some real deal and definitely took him to the very next level!!
To begin with, the foremost and basic question that comes to all our minds:
Chirag, how did you come to know about it and how did you get in?
In December ’13, I saw an advert online, for a new show that would be coming up by the name of Volvo XC Adventure. Being an avid driving enthusiast, I was pretty interested to dive head on into it. They had a bunch of basic requirements that I adhered to, (Age, DL etc), and post that, they wanted video applications. Lazy and free as I was, I got one of my friends to jump a ride with me. He had never used an SLR camera before and to use it to shoot a video must’ve been a challenge for him. I guided him through the basics and he held his own. I took a small patch of road with no traffic alongside my university, and did a few takes about me introducing myself, my car, and what I was all about. The video can be found here:
I think they liked the video, and I was called on the 15th of February by a representative from NDTV to verify my availability for the event. I gladly said yes!
Driving is one of my favorite stress busters, and owing to my interest in astro photography, I get to do a lot of it, especially at night. In fact, I don’t think there are many people in my friends list who can’t go an endless drive. That is what I was looking forwards to, and that’s exactly what I got! So a big thank you to the NDTV team for that!
What make such events a part of your interest?
I was born and raised in Himachal Pradesh. What qualifies as tourism and adventure for most people is part of our day to day life here. So I wasn’t entirely out of place. The funny thing is, We came to know at the last minute that NDTV Volvo XC Adventure show would be shot in Madhya Pradesh. I had no idea what kind of terrain would be waiting for me there, but I knew that there would be a lot of driving to do, so I was happy!
Now here’s a biggie 😀 What did you learn from the whole process?
Well, two weeks with a bunch of random folks who I had never met before in my life. As a bit of a loner, it sounded like a task in itself, but the whole group turned out to be a collection of the most friendly and fun people to be with, Infact, we’re already planning to go on more trips without the added pressure of a camera focussed on us. I guess what I take back from the event is just a glorious bunch of memories. The car is glorious and as proven, safe. It was a brilliant feeling, pressing the engine start button and having 215 horses under the bonnet ready to roll.
Hmm, I get your point, you seem to have steering wheel and a speedometer embedded in your head by now J anyhow, tell me how you would describe the atmosphere there and the people you met?
This is an interesting question. To be brutally honest, there was a bunch of moments there that made me question the state of media in general.They were looking for masala between all of us, I think. Sadly for them, we came out as a strong family, an impenetrable unit. The 12 of us are in regular touch and are going to be, for a long time. Anyhow, those were just minor speedbumps in an otherwise fantastic journey. The atmosphere we created for ourselves was nothing short of being in a family. If I’m allowed to speak for the entire group, We were all chill, in love with life for the duration of the shoot. The fact that there was so much diversity in our group added to why it was interesting for all of us.
What’s the feasibility of such an event occurring any time sooner and would you go for it?
Well, Location after location, poof. Mind=blown. The production did an absolutely stunning job of reconnaissance (“recce” as they all call it) and I bow to their efforts and dedication to select such brilliant locations seemingly in the middle of nowhere. I don’t think I should disclose locations, but everywhere we traveled, our minds were blown by the serenity of it all. To get back to your question, It all depends on talent. We were fortunate to have the production unit that we had, it must’ve been hectic work to find the brilliant locations that they shot us in. Not one of us expected to find such beauty in Madhya Pradesh, and it just goes to show how vast and beautiful India really is. As long as it has to do with Driving, I’m in.
Ohkay! So now after everything is done and talked about, did the whole driving insane experience infuse any agenda or aspiration in your mind?
Well the show did leave me for a lust for… MORE. At the end of this journey, I knew I wanted more of it in my life. More driving!! More places I’ve never been before. More people I’ve never met before. More horsepower in my life. To summarize, MORE ADVENTURE. Being a petrol head from the Get go, the cockpit of a powerful machine draws me like a magnet. I hope to see more of that in my life. Hopefully, this series will be the first stepping stone of many, in the story of my life.
Chirag himself being an avid blogger and writer, went on to write a review on the Volvo XC 60, that you may read here Volvo XC 60 Reviewed by Chirag Saraswati
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