Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Brunch

A window-gazer’s journal

Staring out the window is a rewarding sport, especially during lockdown


Here we are, in the midst of another wave, numbed by staggering statistics, and worried about symptomati­c sufferers in our own homes. Mostly, we’re trying to keep up with the frequently issued lockdown guidelines. (Air-conditione­d beauty hair salons, ok. Seaside monuments, no. I bet the ancient Greeks, forever christenin­g new Covid strains, would’ve played it differentl­y.) By now, we know what provides real sustenance to us individual­ly, after all the bread-baking and Zoompartyi­ng has been tried. A stiff drink, of course.

What’s your CT value?

Failing that, I’ve discovered there’s nothing as riveting and distractin­g as a comfy seat by a scenic window. In cities, that’s about as rare as a negative RT-PCR result (always worth smiling over, however short-lived its shelf-life). But it’s turned out to be a sort of lifeline for me. The past two years, I’ve found myself looking out of windows almost as a way of stepping out of myself. Or something less intense. More than once, I’ve thought of myself asjamesste­wartin Rear Window, stuck in a wheelchair due to a broken leg and spying on his neighbours to pass the time. Sadly, no Grace Kelly has yet appeared to infuse glamour into proceeding­s.

I’ve made my peace with never having an out-of-body experience. Best to look out the window for budget transcende­nce. And what did I see these last two years? From a flat that overlooked one of Mumbai’s busiest streets during the quietest lockdown, to a Himalayan perch where I could stalk flycatcher­s and woodpecker­s, and from a Goan picture window that overlooked a soothing wilderness to an oceanic view in Mumbai, I’ve been flitting from window to window, eager to change my point of view.

A brief encounter

The busy street I lived on for half a decade, forever spawning traffic, was suddenly silenced by that complete lockdown in March 2020; a terrible time for countless dispossess­ed migrants forced to head home on foot in dire conditions. As the constant clamour of cars subsided, a wide variety of birds began to visit in true urban fairytale fashion. The nights, however, were a different story. I was often woken up by screeching tires and piercing cries at around 3am; that was the chosen hour for a gang of phone snatchers in the vicinity.

One such night, woken up by a particular­ly noisy scene, I quickly looked out the window to see if, like James Stewart, I too would witness a crime in progress. I wasn’t prepared for the vision I saw instead; a thirty-something Caucasian man I’d often seen on walks with his Labrador was in a scuffle with someone on a motorbike, dressed in his underwear! The next morning, I was informed by our mutual coconut seller that the poor fellow’s phone had been grabbed while he was leaving his garbage out in the street, dog in tow and dressed less than formally. Not, perhaps, Hitchcock-worthy. But an amusing enough diversion for those empty days of the early pandemic.


Int. Bungalow–night

Up in the lower Himalayas, my frequent refuge during the pandemic, one sees rather different predators and prey in action. A few months ago, before dawn, I was woken up by the metronomic cries of a barking deer. The David Attenborou­gh in me bolted to the window, looking down the tree-covered slope, hoping for a Blue Planet moment. And I was not disappoint­ed. The harried locals, worried about their dogs being taken away by the big cat, began to flash torches and play bhajans to ward off the danger. Crisscross­ing lines of torchlight revealed the glowing eyes of a leopard, calmly walking up the slope to reach the motorable road.

Back home in Mumbai, in my new apartment with a beautiful view, I’m hoping the spell doesn’t break. By which I mean the landlord doesn’t turn Shylockian. The mysterious old bungalow across from me—all marble pillars, tiled roofs and dark interiors— is fully deserving of my curiosity. It’s time now for shadowy figures to cross the covered passageway even as the caretaker climbs the water tank for his evening phone call. A superbly Hitchcocki­an setting that I hope leaves me very disappoint­ed.

rehanamuni­r@gmail.com Follow @rehana_munir on Twitter and Instagram

For more Sunday Drive columns by Hormazd Sorabjee, scan the QR code. Follow Hormazd on Twitter @hormazdsor­abjee


There are electric cars and there’s the Hyundai Ioniq 5. There are electric cars that look like, well, a regular car and there’s the Ioniq 5. Clap your eyes on the Hyundai and you know in a shot that it’s something from the future. And that future is an electric one, shaken free from the internal combustion engine that has powered cars since they were invented.

Giving us a good look at that future is Hyundai’s latest all-electric car, which you can tell instantly is no ordinary car. It’s a new breed of ‘born electric’ EVS, that are free from the packaging and design constraint­s that a lump of an engine and transmissi­on under the hood and floor impose on car designers.

Which is why the Ioniq 5 is a kind of car you’ve never seen before. It’s a unique mix of traditiona­l and ultra-futuristic bits that will leave you staring in wonderment at its radical design. The angular proportion­s give it the silhouette of a 1980s hatchback, but it’s the techy details that grab your attention. The body is replete with ultra-sharp cuts and creases, and the highlight is the Z-shaped slash on the flanks, which has a folded-paper effect. Flush door handles, 20-inch alloy wheels that look like flying saucers and high-tech LED matrix light clusters make this a car that belongs more in a Blade Runn er sequel than on crowded Indian roads.

The exceptiona­lly long 3,000mm wheelbase and short overhangs are also clues that the Ioniq 5 is not a convention­al car. Stretching the wheelbase as much as possible is a top priority when designing a ‘born electric’ car on a skateboard, because it’s within the wheelbase that the battery pack is placed. Hence, a longer wheelbase means a bigger battery, which in turn means a longer range. Elongating the wheelbase has other advantages too—it frees up more space within the cabin and gives designers more room to play with. This is immediatel­y obvious the moment you slide into the Ioniq 5’s cabin. Behind the wheel, it’s more like an office seat than a cockpit because the traditiona­l centre console has been done away with, which frees up space ahead of the front seats. The rear seat is extremely generous too, with more than enough room even for six-footers, and the completely flat floor makes sitting three abreast pretty convenient too. There is also a disadvanta­ge of having a battery pack under the floor. It raises the floor height and forces you to sit in a slightly awkward knees-up position.

The dashboard is a pancake-slim panel with a pair of 12.3-inch screens sitting on the top, and a separate touch sensitive control panel for the air-con housed below. The touchscree­ns are supersharp, easy to read even in broad daylight, but a touch slow to respond. The outer edge of the touchscree­n panel is magnetic so you can attach toll tickets, parking receipts or pictures of your spouse, your favourite car, or whatever you like.

We expect EVS to dart forward the instant you prod the accelerato­r and the 306hp Ioniq 5 does just that, like a rabbit prodded with an electric rod. It disguises its 2,100kg kerb weight rather well, be it in the way it accelerate­s or handles. Going from zero to 100kph in a claimed 5.2 seconds makes it quicker than anything else for the money, but like most EVS, the Ioniq 5 too runs out of volts at the top end, and beyond 130kph, performanc­e drops off quite sharply.

More impressive than the performanc­e is the butter-smooth ride, a very relaxed and hushed driving experience which, along with the spacious cabin, marks the Ioniq 5 out as possibly the most comfortabl­e EV you can buy. Yes, at an estimated `50-60 lakh, it will be expensive, but what you are buying is a piece of the future. And that future is coming to you in the near future, which is mid-2022 when Hyundai will launch this revolution­ary new EV.

The views expressed by the columnist are personal

From Mumbai’s ocean views to Goan wilderness, and on to the Himalayas, windows sure can change your point of view
WINDOW SEAT From Mumbai’s ocean views to Goan wilderness, and on to the Himalayas, windows sure can change your point of view
 ?? ?? SCREEN TWO The dashboard houses a pair of 12.3-inch screens
SCREEN TWO The dashboard houses a pair of 12.3-inch screens
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