Incredible Classic India

The wine is truly awful, the car we drive is truly awful (an Ambassador), and the roads are just about the worst anywhere in the world – but oh! what a wonderful experience. Just back from 10 days driving ourselves around Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. If you get the chance to do this, just do it!

But a wine trip, it’s not. About the only selection is Indian wine and at times it makes your eyes water at the cost. How does Indian Rupees 2,400 sound (that’s about S$70) for a bottle of very, very ordinary red wine? Well, apparently it’s red wine. It’s enough to make one turn to beer. Or gin and tonic. But not the water.

The Ambassador’s not much different – no handbrake, no air-con, only one windscreen wiper (single speed, no self-park), probably had synchromesh when it was new, but now…….So, when was it new? Our car had a normal life as a taxi, and we found the purchase papers in the boot. Build date? May 2000. Yep, that rusty car with almost no creature comforts, an asthmatic 1.5 litre diesel engine that couldn’t hold second gear going up a 1 in 50 slope, and drum brakes (not all that effective on the 36 downhill hairpin bends out of Ooty) was built just 10 years ago.  But you know what? At the end of the trip, everyone who participated in the drive said they were going to miss their little “Ambi”. Some had even acquired names like Fang and Lewis (of F1 fame).

Go for the food, for the scenery, for the spontaneous interaction with friendly welcoming southern Indians, and go for the drive of your life. Just don’t go for the wine. Go to

2 Responses to “Incredible Classic India”

  1. 1 Rachael November 5, 2010 at 1:31 am

    Cannot agree with you more David – it was the trip of a lifetime (or several trips if you do it more than once)… 🙂 🙂

  2. 2 Lisa November 5, 2010 at 7:27 am

    Great post, David. Welcome back! Can’t wait to hear the details 🙂

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Wine quotations

"A good bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world" - Louis Pasteur

“The unexacting palates of the masses…are content to ask no question [on origin] so long as a florin or half-a-crown will purchase a roomy flagon of strong , full-bodied, fruity wine” – CE Hawker writing in 1907