Honda threw a royal party to celebrate the first birthday of the second-gen Jazz in Rajasthan. We tagged along for a bit of cheer and inevitable introspection.
Firsts are always special. Think about the joy you felt when you got your first job, received your first pay cheque, bought your first car, celebrated your first anniversary – you get the point. July 2016 marked the ‘first’ anniversary of the second-gen Honda Jazz in India, and so Honda threw a royal party – at a palace in Rajasthan. We were invited to enjoy the festivities.
First up, let’s talk about the venue – which in this case is a jaw-droppingly exquisite place, called Samode Palace. And, like almost every place in Rajasthan, it has a rich history. Samode Palace is nearly 475 years old and is nestled in the foothills of the Aravali range. Distance wise, it’s located just a stone’s throw away from Jaipur city – 43-kilometres to be precise. It was built in the 16th century in a fortress-like setting by the Rajputs. In the 19th century, it received a cultural as well as architectural makeover by the Mughals. Currently, though, it’s been turned into a sumptuous palace hotel. And since 1987, it’s been given the status of a heritage monument. There couldn’t have been a better place to celebrate the first anniversary of what is a very important model for Honda in India.
Getting to Samhode was not entirely straightforward though. Since Honda had invited a battalion of auto journos from across the country, the company decided to first assemble the lot of us in Jaipur. So we were flown into Jaipur on day 1. For the Delhi folks, including me, it was a bit of a downer since we could have driven to Jaipur in less time than it took to get there by air. Anyway, once in Jaipur, our convoy of six Honda Jazz cars was flagged for the palace. Each car had four guys – our, fortunately, had just three. Since the destination was only 40-kilometres away, we thought we’d behave and avoid fighting for the key.
The drive was quite uneventful till we left Jaipur city – mainly because I wasn’t behind the wheel. But thanks to Google Maps and the perplexing back roads of Rajasthan, we lost our way more than once. When we finally reached our destination, Honda had something else in store for us. We were divided into teams and tasked with different activities. We had to stuff the car with various items, such as a bicycle, flower-pots, and suitcases – using the rather clever “magic seats” of the Jazz to ensure that it all fit. The team that was fastest and most efficient would earn maximum points. We also did some slow slalom runs around a dirt-track to see how well we could avoid various obstacles.
The next day, as we made our way back to Jaipur, there was another twist in the tale – a treasure hunt of sorts. We had five checkpoints to cover, and that meant we visited places like the stunning Amer Fort, Hawa Mahal, Jaipur’s famous Laxmi sweet shop, a renowned lassi shop, and, finally, a petrol pump to refuel. In case you’re wondering, the last stop was to see which of us had been the most efficient over two days of driving? Surprisingly, our fuel efficiency figures were the best!
All in all, it was a grand celebration, but – at the risk of mellowing the mood – I couldn’t help wonder if there was a bit of false cheer about. You see, Honda – with the Brio, Jazz, Amaze, Mobilio, or even the brand new BR-V – hasn’t exactly been setting the sales charts on fire. So I wonder if they also had a little bit of the birthday blues. Well, I suppose milestones like these are the perfect time to introspect and chart a course for a more productive future. Happy Birthday Honda Jazz, here’s to better days ahead...
Also read: 2015 Honda Jazz Review, Test Drive