All posts by Vaibhav Sharma

I’m a writer and amateur photographer currently working as Editor (Special Projects) at Stuff Magazine, India’s most popular gadget & tech monthly. My responsibilities at Stuff include product reviews, event coverage, feature stories, and advertorials. I also write for Stuff.tv/In and What Hi-Fi India. Apart from this, my articles and/or photos have appeared in other prestigious titles as well, including Outlook Traveller Getaways (where I worked as Associate Editor), Times of India Crest Edition, Sunday Guardian, India Deluxe Life, Zeitgeist Asia, Life Positive, and Management Compass. In the past, I’ve also worked on blogs, marketing copy, and guest articles for a few leading startups.

‘Flying’ in an Airbus A320 flight simulator

A little while ago I got to check out an actual flight simulator. Nope, not a game you run on your PC. And no, not a homebrew rig built by some insane hobbyist in the guest room (pissing off his wife in the process). I’m talking about the real goddamned deal – an actual, honest-to-goodness flight simulator for the Airbus A320. Yup, a fancy-schmancy, eye-wateringly expensive piece of kit airline pilots train on.

So of course, I wrote about the CAE Series 5000 in Stuff India’s April 2016 issue. I’m also pasting a small excerpt here for you lazy buggers who never picked up a copy at the stands. You can also head over to the Stuff India website to read the online version.

“…You’ll find this Series 5000, along with two of its compatriots (an even fancier, even more expensive Series 7000 is slated to arrive soon), at the CAE Simulation Training Pvt. Ltd. facility in Greater Noida. Designated a ‘Level D’ or ‘Full ‘, flight simulator, the Series 5000 models the Airbus A320 flying experience down to the minutest bit of detail There’s no indication whatsoever that you aren’t in the cockpit of a real airliner, and it’s so realistic that a session aboard the Series 5000 counts as Zero Flight Time Training, the closest a pilot can get to real flying without taking an A320 up into the air.

ENCOUNTERING THE SERIES 5000

Walk into the simulator bay at the CAE facility and a trio of alien-looking pods loom up, looking like otherworldly creatures here to take over planet Earth. From the bulbous cockpit, to the electro-mechanical legs, to the distant whine of simulated jet engines, punctuated only by a Series 5000’s movement as the pilots inside encounter bad weather, it all feels like something out of a science-fiction movie.

Rather fitting when you think about all the cutting-edge technology involved in recreating this realistic illusion of flight right here on terra firma.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO FLY ONE OF THESE

It takes years of hard work before you’re trusted with flying a few hundred people thousands of feet up in the air, inside a metal tube powered by tonnes of highly flammable fuel. Which is why we leapt at the chance to sit through a flight in the cockpit of a virtual A320…

All set for take-off, our instructor pushes the throttles forward, and we’re on our way. Sceptical about how realistic the Series 5000’s motion is? Don’t be. Combined with the sound and the visual cues, our brains are fooled into thinking we’re accelerating past a few hundred knots as we soar up into the air.

Taking gentle turns over Delhi, traffic visible on the roads below us, with the occasional jerk as we hit a patch of bad weather, it’s easy to believe we’re out for a joyride in a real Airbus. Going in to land, the ground proximity warning goes off as the landing gear’s not engaged. That’s fixed, and as we come in, a voice alert counts out our altitude. We touch down with a thud and gently roll to a stop. Of course, we also took a turn behind the controls. How did that go? Let’s just say nobody’s gonna be hiring us as pilots for a while…”

 

A dirty weekend with the Polaris Phoenix 200 ATV

Sick of grumpy bosses and commutes that make being waterboarded seem like fun? We just might have found the right antidote: Spending a dirty weekend with the Polaris Phoenix 200 ATV…

You’d have found this article in the February 2016 issue of Stuff India. Missed it on the stands? No worries; head over to our website to read the online version. Meanwhile, here’ s an excerpt to keep you entertained (for a few seconds at least):

“Going mad with the hectic pace of life? Dream about running away to a tropical island? Wait up! There’s a far easier way of getting rid of the city blues – by grabbing your pals and heading out to play in the dirt.

That’s exactly what we did when we woke up one weekend with a burning desire to be outdoors. We’d heard the Polaris ATV chaps had set up a few Experience Zones around Delhi, and guess what? There was a spanking new one on National Highway 1, near Sonepat. You can guess where we’re going with this…

VS - Stuff Feb 2016 - Polaris Phoenix 200There’s a dirt track laid out, designed by Polaris to ensure you get plenty of thrills without risking a nasty tumble. A long straight to build up speed, a few turns to slide around while pretending to be the baddie from a cheesy Hollywood flick, a slush-filled pit for powering through (with a big grin plastered all over your face), and a couple of ramps and bridges for a butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling. A recipe done right? We’d be inclined to agree…”

The car’s the star at Auto Expo 2016

With the world’s leading marques and a few hundred thousand visitors, Auto Expo might be the biggest mela since the 80s, when the brothers Ram and Shyam got separated and ended up on opposite sides of the law.

But don’t fret if you couldn’t battle your way through the crowds. Stuff India has all the skinny on all the cars that really set our pulses racing.

The car's always the star - Stuff India March 2016

This article was published in the March 2016 issue of Stuff India. Pick up a copy at the stands or head over to Stuff.tv/in to read the online version.

P.S My favourite?

“…The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

In a nutshell You don’t have to settle for copycats, now that the real deal’s here!

Claim to fame It’s the Jeep. Get it in full SRT trim and you’ll get to taste an insane 470hp from the 6.7L Hemi V8. Combine that with Quadra-Trac 4×4 and you get a continent- devouring monster!

Tech on the menu This bonafide, rock-crawlin’, mud-pluggin’ 4×4 has Launch Control, 8-speed auto, paddle shifters, an 8.4in touchscreen and a 0-100km/h time of 5.0 seconds. Yup, it could embarrass many a supercar

Best driven… Wherever you may want to roam (And don’t forget to put on some Metallica on the stereo and hang up a Stars-and-Stripes out of the window)

Status On our roads soon

Price tba …”

Summer Getaways

It’s awfully hot here in India (unless you’re one of the lucky few who lives in the Himalayan states). In fact, it’s so damned hot, it almost seems like  the sun’s trying to burn you to a cinder. Yup, it’s summer all right. Doesn’t a nice vacation sound good right about now?

That’s exactly why I wrote about the best summer getaways for the June issue of Stuff India Magazine. Catch some excerpts here or pick up a copy from the news stands.

Summer Getaways 0 Stuff India Magazine - June 2015

“…Kanatal / Landour, Uttarakhand
Kanatal’s lake might no longer exist, but it more than makes up with its refreshing lack of tourists, the miles of winding roads, the lovely weather even in the middle of summer, and enough little picnic spots for you to make every meal an al fresco experience. Walk through pine forests straight out of a fairytale, explore the lush Dhanaulti Eco Park, or drive over to nearby Landour, a beautiful little cantonment town adjoining
Mussoorie, for some piping-hot paranthas and Maggi…..

Vembanad Lake, Kerala
Luxury experiences don’t get better than a few days spent at Kerala’s largest lake. Take backwater cruises, spend the day in a spa, sample the local seafood, and don’t forget to carry your camera along when you visit the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, home to almost 200 species of birds. And when you think you’re as rejuvenated as can be, head over to Kochi to explore the old colonial quarter, and satisfy your geek lust with a quick stopover at the Indian Navy’s Maritime Museum…

…Great Lakes Trek, Jammu & Kashmir
The ‘golden’ meadow of Sonamarg might be overrun with tourists , but it guards a secret that makes it a worthwhile destination when all you want is some solitude. That’s ‘cos Sonamarg happens to be the jumping-off point for the famous Great Lakes Trek, a week-long experience which takes you over high-altitude meadows and mountain trails as you visit a bunch of placid Himalayan lakes…

…McLeodganj, Himachal Pradesh
This little hippie haven’s quite famous for being home to a large Tibetan community, and offers a laid-back vibe most of the time (weekends can be packed, though). Check out the Dalai Lama’s monastery, take Tibetan food lessons, catch an art cinema night, or fuel up on beer and pizzas while you play a game of chess at a cafe in Dharamkot…”

Chariot of the Gods: The Mercedes-Benz CLS 250 CDI reviewed

Last month I had the chance to drive the fantastic CLS 250 CDI.  I spent a weekend with this massive, 4-door coupé, falling in love with they way it looked, felt, and drove. I’m putting up a few excerpts here on my  blog; the full-review can be found in the June 2015 issue of Stuff India Magazine. Mercedes CLS 250 CDI First Test

“…The CLS is quite the rarity on our roads, and while that does lend it  even more of a cachet, it’s not that it needs any help. That’s ‘cos whether it’s standing still or overtaking everyone else, this fearsome 4-door, 4-seater coupé looks like the proverbial million bucks. Actually, make it a billion…

…But while the CLS has always been about melding styling flair with CEO-level luxury, it doesn’t mean that the tech aspect’s been pushed under the carpet. A new, fuel-efficient oil-burner might have replaced the previous model’s V6 petrol, but the diesel’s grunt, paired with the adjustable air suspension, makes the CLS a fantastic highway cruiser. And there’s other stuff to gladden  the hearts of the 21st century sybarite – the Harman Kardon sound system, the intelligent headlamps, the 3-zone climate control, and of course, the next-gen COMAND Online infotainment system….

…The next-gen ‘COMAND’ System
Infotainment systems have come a long way since someone decided to fit an 8-track to his car so he could listen to Elvis when stuck in a nasty gridlock. Merc’s new COMAND Online system is where the logical progression of tech has brought us. Flick around the control dial and watch the 8-inch display light up with the many Internet-connected apps: Mercedes Web Radio, TuneIn Radio, Weather, RSS feeds, text-to-speech news, Morningstar Finance, hotel search, and of course, a web browser. And yes, new apps can be added and updates applied over the air. Traffic jams just became a lot more tolerable! …”

Chalk and Cheese – The Patrol V8 and the Leaf EV

“Nissan’s completed 10 years in India so they decided to celebrate this in the only way possible – a grand party featuring all their cars. What, you expected a Page 3 do with fashion designers in attendance? Sorry, that’s not how petrolheads roll…

So if you found yourself part of the Nissan Carnival festivities at the Buddh International Circuit, you got to see and drive Nissan’s lineup in India – the Sunny, the Micra, and the Terrano. But that’s not why we were so excited. Nope, the real reason is that we’d heard Nissan had flown down a couple of special guests…”

Nissan Carnival - India

“…LEAFY GREEN MACHINE

From the outside, the Leaf looks just any other premium hatchback around. Get inside, and you find a very well-put-together cabin that looks and feels very, very good indeed. But it’s when you turn it on that you realise this isn’t just another hatch – it’s an electric car, one of those new-fangled upstarts that will eventually save our planet…

…NISSAN PATROL V8 4X4

You can’t miss the Patrol. Not even if it’s trying to hide behind a Himalayan range. It’s simply massive. Over 5 metres long, almost 2 metres wide and tall, and nearly nudging the 3 tonne mark on the weighing scale. But even with all the weight the Patrol has to cart around, it’s not slow. That’s it comes with what’s known amongst petrolheads as A Very Good Thing – A 5.6L V8 that pumps out 400 screaming horses, all of which Nissan says will drag the Patrol to the 100 km/h mark in around 6.6 seconds…

…Bouncing around on the off-road section, you do realise what all the fuss is about. The V8 provides enough power to terrify small asteroids and there seems to be enough ground clearance to set up camp. Inching down steep inclines or powering up elephant-sized mounds of loose dirt, the Patrol seems nearly idiot proof…”

Read more about the Nissan Patrol V8 and the Leaf on the brand-new Stuff India website!

Streaming music and movies at home (Stuff)

Aching to set up a home media server or want to access streaming music / movies, but have no darn clue where to start? Er, you really should have picked up the December 2014 issue of Stuff India Magazine!

StuffProjectsHomeMediaStreaming