Driving one’s car is the ticket to freedom, the first step towards claiming oneself to be totally independent , in charge of one’s life and the direction towards which it is headed and if the said car, come out of one’s own pocket, the feeling is inexplicable.
For someone like me,whose life has been lived within the confining limits of lower middle class income, where the entire family laid claim on a two wheeler, as its only set of wheels, a-la ‘those legendary Bajaj scooter ads’, it landed as a bolt out of blue to my single mother that I intended to buy a car for the family within months of landing my first job. Though she tried her best antics to desist me from making such a foolhardy purchase, so early in my life, when there were clearly more important landmarks to be met, yet she was brought in the team after much cajoling and persuasion. It is to be noted here that years later, this purchase on an impulse would be one of her favorite anecdotes.
After a marathon series of calculations and stretching my budget to its farthest end, I zeroed down on the lowest priced car in the segment in the pre Tata Nano days. A Maruti 800AC BS III (Silky Silver) became my first prized possession. Maruti in the pre-liberalisation era had brought about a revolution of sorts in the Indian Car Market with a complete turnaround of how cars were bought, sold and serviced in India.
The clear instruction of the dealer made a lasting impression on my amateur mind “Drive it yourself andtreat it like your own baby and it will serve you well, for days to come”. The intention behind it was that it was a small car, zippy enough to navigate the bustling traffic of the small city, we lived in and just the right size for our family.
The small turning radius was a pleasure for a first time novice driver, like me to negotiate the sharp turns and overall it made for a very cherished and learning experience. I never strove to drive it beyond the maximum range of 60-75 km/hour. I coveted this car and with every increment in my salary, the car too received it share offittings in the form of a Sony Cassette player, steering cover, sun covers, sun films etc.
Parking the right car right outside our building premises attracted the envy and side glances of many a curious neighbours, which however was kind of misplaced since it did not come easy. I had saved every penny and slogged for months since then to repay the debt incurred on this impulsive purchase.
Since then, it has been through its share of ups and downs with the family and has weathered well and taken its share of beatings in form dents and scratches.
On its part it has been the source of immense joy, a few hearty break sand some moments of sheer panic, but that story is for another day.