Monthly Archives: April 2019


Pet friendly trips

“Happiness is a warm puppy” ~ Charles M Schulz

Every animal lover knows what this means. The unconditional love from our furry friends gives us humans a lot of happiness and for most pet owners their pets are like their children. Is it any surprise then that when families travel, they would want to do so in the company of their beloved pets? Pet boarding is not always an option pet parents can go in for. It’s not very easy finding one that suits their dog and the pet parent would constantly worry about their pet. And even leaving them with a friend or someone else in the family is also heartbreaking. Our pet (like most others) used to stop eating whenever that would happen.

European countries have always been way ahead of us in terms of pet friendly services. When I lived in Finland, It was very strange for me to see that pets were allowed everywhere, on all modes of transport. So one could see them in trams, trains, boats & buses. Watching a pet climb down an escalator is not a rare sight there at all! And pets are also allowed into hotels, cafes, restaurants etc and are an equal part of public space. So why then do we not have more pet friendly options in India? Hopefully things will change soon.

Currently the ease of taking pets on trains/planes in India is almost negligible. It is a tough process and there is not much help around the actual implementation of it, even if one wants to follow all rules and take one’s pet aboard. Right now Indian railways allows pets on board but ONLY in first class or first class AC compartments, so you can’t travel with your pet in any of the other AC classes or even second class. And you need to buy all 4 tickets or 2 tickets for all 4 berths in that area or you need to have people in those berths (basically family) ok with your pet. Because one complaint from anyone in the entire coach and your pet can be shifted to the luggage compartment!

As for airlines, not all airlines operating in India take pets. Only some do, and only on certain sectors on certain days and they have only a certain number of pets that can fly on that particular day. So one has to do a lot of advance planning. Sometimes even airline staff is clueless about the process and documentation involved. Moreover most pets (beyond a certain size which is very small) travel as cargo and it’s pretty traumatic for them. So the safest and most convenient bet would be a roadtrip where the pets are constantly under your own supervision and things like other passengers and air pressure or temperature of cabin are not things you need to worry about. 

 

Now coming to where pets can stay with you during your vacation, we are just *beginning* to get into the realm of pet friendly hotels. When I search for hotels near me that are also pet friendly, most of them are accommodation sharing rentals, like airbnb and oyo rooms, which are ok with lending rooms to pet parents with extra charges. Some big hotel establishments are also getting there, but we definitely need more of them. We also need facilities like walking/playing areas etc for pets at the hotel. Keeping all this in mind, Pet friendly trips anyone?



India’s first Internet car – MG Hector!

On 2nd April 2019, MG Motor unveiled India’s first Internet Car which has futuristic car technology called iSMART Next Gen for connected mobility.

 

I also attended that launch of MG motor’s new superb internet enabled car – MG Hector, which was developed along with its strong consortium of global tech partners that includes Microsoft, Adobe, Unlimit, SAP, Cisco, Gaana, TomTom and Nuance. The event was conducted at JW Mariott, Aerocity and the atmosphere felt very energetic, what with the large audience completely full of excited people. The stage was set like the inside of MG hector complete with a steering wheel.

Finally the event started and it started with a few statements about fire safety, earth quake proof building and what to do in case of an evacuation. I really liked it, because generally in events at hotels – NONE of this is ever focussed upon! It’s something very important and everyone could do with such information.

Finally, the event started with much glitz and we were shown the endorsement video of the brand ambassador – none other than Benedict Cumberbatch. <3

 

The brain of the iSMART Next Gen will be housed in a 10.4” Head Unit. The screen is designed with a vertical interface that allows the driver to control the entire car system with just a touch or voice command. The Head Unit is built to withstand extreme climatic conditions of India. It comes pre-loaded with entertainment content. This was replicated outside the hall at various points for demo of the technology and voice activated features.

After we were explained a few more features, we got to see Benedict Cumberbatch again, giving the voice command to “open sunroof”. I couldn’t stop looking at his blue eyes that perfectly matched the blue MG hector he was sitting in! <3

MG Hector comes with an industry first embedded M2M sim that ensures that the car remains connected. This seamless connectivity enables the users to receive real-time software, entertainment content and application updates. Imagine – connected with a SIM! This is like your car is a smartphone! The mind – it just boggles! This makes MG the first few among the global leaders and the first in India to bring the revolutionary Over The Air (OTA) technology to cars. Shock and awe, that’s what MG motor has done! Look at Benedict 🙂

The most stunning feature of the MG Hector is Voice Assist. It is a powerful voice application that works on the cloud and head unit. Developed by Nuance for MG India, it has been specifically designed for Indian accent learning. As a result of built in AI and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms, the system will learn and get better every day with usage. Activated with ‘Hello MG’, the voice assist allows over 100 commands, including opening and closing of windows and sun roof, ac control, navigation etc. and works even under poor connectivity.

MG iSMART App is feature-rich like none other in the Indian market. The car gets scanned each time the App is opened, and information includes location of car, tyre pressure, or if the doors are locked or not. Owner can use the remote app to directly lock or unlock doors, turn on ignition and switch on the air-conditioner. This is very useful in extreme weather conditions of India. It would also allow owners to schedule a service and keep track of service history.

MG with iSMART ensures that its customers remain protected against advanced threats while enjoying the benefits of technology. MG car owners can locate their cars remotely and geo fence it, so the car cannot be taken out of a predefined zone, thus enhancing the safety of the passengers. The App uses driver analytics data to help people drive smarter.

Here are some of the features the user can carry out using the iSMART app

  • Vehicle scanning to check pre-defined parameters
  • Fuel level & vehicle range
  • Lock/ unlock status
  • Lock/ unlock the vehicle remotely
  • Remotely switch on the Climate control on a hot day when the car has been standing in the sun
  • Find my car [Honking/Lights blinking/walk or drive to car]
  • Set geo fencing. Most useful when loved ones are travelling in the car.
  • Security alert
  • Abnormal tyre pressure notification
  • Vehicle Management
  • Create travel plan & Push it to vehicle
  • iSMART Smart Drive helps users to drive smartly
  • Speed Alert
  • MG Network information
  • Departure Notification

Is this mindblowing or what! Benedict Agrees!

MG has set up a first of its kind customer management service centre called the Pulse Hub. This will enable eCall emergency response in all MG cars. If a car’s airbags are deployed under an emergency condition, automatic messages are sent to the Pulse Hub and the registered phones along with a series of emergency response actions get activated instantly.

Likewise, SAP has built one of its kind Dealer Management System – ‘Magnet’, and connected apps. This system would host all information from company, dealers, service centres and customers at one place. This would make sure the customer can seamlessly be recognised and offered services at pre-sales, sales and post sales phases.

MG vehicles were much sought after by many celebrities, including the British Prime Ministers and even the British Royal Family, for their styling, elegance, and spirited performance. The MG Car Club, set up in 1930 at Abingdon, UK, has more than a million loyal fans. MG has evolved into a modern, futuristic and innovative brand over the last 95 years. MG Motor India has commenced its manufacturing operations at its car manufacturing plant at Halol in Gujarat. The first of these modern MG cars – “HECTOR” will be made available to the Indian customers in the second quarter of this year. The second car from MG Motor India in 2020 will be a pure electric vehicle – eZS. The company aims to launch two new cars every year.

And I am super glad to learn that at MG Motor India, women workforce stands at 31% where traditionally automotive sector is a male bastion with only 5-10% women workforce in other Auto Companies.

 

So here’s waiting for the first MG hector cars to appear in India and I am really looking forward to test driving one!