My Cars

Rajabhau rang up to inform that he bought a new car. His joy and enthusiasm was infectious.

I remembered when my father bought his first car, a Chevrolet, a big car it was. We went to Ganapatipule and also visited all the ashtavinayakas in that car. The grey coloured car had a number which everybody remembered – 1212! This was in mid fifties and not many people owned cars then. We were staying in Khopoli then and often went to Pen. Children used to flock around the car and curiously see the interior. Boys were always interested in understanding where the accelerator, brake and clutch were; they rarely understood what the clutch did. [I don’t know what the girls were interested in!] I used to feel very strange sitting inside the car while the poor boys and girls looked at it curiously. I was very possessive of the Chevy. When my father sold it to a Sardarji, I was very upset and did not speak to him for three or four days. I remember crying when the new owner drove it away.

My father soon bought a black Hindustan [or Morris as it was called elsewhere], but it did not replace the love for Chevy in my heart. I did not like it. It was a small car. It also appeared ugly to me. And soon new Fiats and Ambassadors were on the road in early sixties that made our car look old. It also had the windshield in two parts whereas modern cars [then] had only one piece windshield. But my father used to love that car and he travelled all over India driving it.

Finally he decided to sell it. I knew of his decision but not my mother, although she came to know of it accidentally. He bought a used Ambassador, three years old, on my mother’s birthday! That was the plan he was trying to keep it under wraps. The surprise!

The Ambassador remained faithfully with us till my father expired in mid eighties. We used it almost for eighteen or nineteen years. It was a reliable car. My son used to love it. Soon after my father passed away I sold it. And my angry son cried and did not talk to me for three days! History repeats!!

A long period of not owning a car followed. Then my employers provided a car – Premier Padmini first, followed by Maruti 800, then Santro, then Accent and then Honda Civic. The cars became bigger and bigger, but the pleasure of driving in city was inversely proportional to their size. I don’ know why, but all in my family felt bad when I sold the white Accent. Me too.
Some cars have personality. Or perhaps we think of them as persons. They become inseparable part of our life. I once saw an English film that was based on this idea. So perhaps there is nothing Indian about it.

Cars have improved substantially and the maintenance required is negligible. Driving around in a car is a pleasure. As long as you are on the express highway, not otherwise!