“Strange is the Bond between Man and a Machine, a rare form of Love, inscrutable yet true”
It has already been more than 22 years… more than my total work experience, more than the years of my marriage, more than the years I’ve spent struggling with books and education… more than anything else I could remember… What can this be which I love so passionately? Driving. Sometimes I feel driving is the only activity I do with rapt attention and interest. Cars have been my passion since childhood.
From the times of Rajesh Khanna crooning ‘mere sapno ki rani kab aayegi tu’ on an open jeep in 1969, to ‘Lamberghini chalai jane o’ of 2018, Automobile sector has come a long way. Not only cars are more agile and sleek, they have become more powerful and sturdy. I am going to narrate my journey with cars, how it started as a puppy love, which developed in a sizzling infatuation, and later in a full time passionate affair, culminating in a sacred bond of marriage and finally on the way to find an ultimate true love – soul mate.
The cars below have defined my relationship with the machine and have shaped my driving habits.
My puppy love – Premier Padmini 1990
I was fascinated by cars since my teenage days. I remember during a road trip to Haridwar and Mussoorie in 1993, when I was 13 years, I sat in my mamaji’s lap and steered his Maruti 800 on the highway. Though he had held the vital controls, it was me who maneuvered the car dexterously.
Then came year 1998 when I turned 18, an adult, legally. More than euphoria of finally being an adult who can gulp down beer, it was the thrill of being able to drive a car by myself that amused me. The charm of holding a chilled can of beer with one hand and the steering wheel with the other seemed unparalleled… alas, couldn’t do it then as my car didn’t have cup holders.
I had my first driving lessons on the ubiquitous Premier Padmini of ’90s. This manually assembled bison had a hand gear shift, which was too cumbersome to manoeuvre for a frail figure like me. But I was adamant to tame it. This car did not have the sophistication of Europe, nor the reliability of Japan…it didn’t even have a basic cassette player, or the Air conditioning, but it was robust and had brute power. It being my first car, it had the charms of first adolescent love. Not only I loved driving it, I liked to clean it, rub it, wash and polish it. It was my priced possession.
Slowly and gradually, I enjoyed myself being in command of this beauty and loved the thrill of racing it down the dingy roads of Kanpur. After a month of struggle and navigating through narrow bylanes of Gumti No. 5 of Kanpur, I finally tamed this bison. The Kanpuriya Bhaukaal (desi swag) was such that I felt like a Man with my arms around the waist of the hottest chick in town.
This was truly my first puppy love.
Infatuation – Santro 2000
My next car was a 2000 model Golden Santro which I simply adored. This one was more agile. Quick and Quiet. It had floor gears, a CD cassette player and also flaunted an AC. Unlike manual assembled Fiat, this one was automatically assembled. Its doors did not squeak and no air passed from the door gaps. Santro was my bundle of joy. I was infatuated. I made my first Kanpur-Agra trip was on this car and also touched 120 kmph. Santro made me realize that cars are not only for daily commutation, they can also be used for vacations, for memorable road trips.
Once, in 2008, we drove this Santro from Allahabad to Gurgaon, a distance of about 750 km. With five adults sitting inside and it being loaded with luggage on carrier, our Santro ran effortlessly. It was a joy to drive it on freshly built tarmac between Etawah and Agra. However. the euphoria was short lived as just before Agra, the driver side tyre went inside a pothole. Brakes were slammed but thuddd… the carrier tossed onto the bonnet and our two rhino sized suitcases scattered on the highway, flung open. Fortunately, none of us were hurt despite car reaching a screeching halt. Strangely, in this moment of tension and frustration, I felt elated. I was impressed with Santro’s highway manners. The car did not skid. It did not roll over. However, it displayed its displeasure by making cacophony of a deafening sound. I fell in love with the prowess of this car. More because I pitted it against the oldie Premier Padmini.
Whatever time we both spent together was memorable. After 16 long years of togetherness, Santro breathed its last in 2016. We both moved on, but that’s what infatuation is…some love, some fights, good fun…and then one day, a break up.
We also bought an i10 in 2008. This one was like elder brother of Santro. It was Agiler. Quicker and Quieter. AC was sheer blast. The best I have ever experienced. The specs of car were amazing considering the price. This made me a jabra fan of Hyundai. I made numerous trips on this car. Shimla. Narkanda. Chandigarh. Morni Hills. Varanasi. Haridwar. Amritsar. Allahabad. You name it. Somehow, the joy which Santro brought was unmatched by its elder sibling. There was a disconnect between us, don’t know why. We sold this one off soon after Santro.
We also bought a WagonR in 2014, which I still drive, but trust me, Maruti cannot match the wow factor of Hyundai. The build, the compactness, the quality and the confidence on road which Hyundai exhibits, Maruti cannot even dream about it.
We also bought an i20, which my sister drives. This one is even better. We did the longest road trip of our lives on this car… Bangalore to Gurgaon… it was our home for three long days…have a look at our experiences on that road trip here:
Full time passion – Days at Chicago, US
As they say, US is a land of opportunities. I would add another dimension to it… US is a land to pursue your hobby and develop it into a hardcore passion, an obsession. During my one-year stay at US, I took numerous road trips. My interest in cars got flying wings here. I remember my first long drive in US was from Orlando to Miami, which we did in a Kia Sorento. That was the first SUV blood I tasted. Ever since, I had always secretly desired to own a Tata Safari in India. SUV are so comfortable and powerful… and spacious…and have an enormous road presence… well, I can go on and on.
The number of cars I rented there included a PT Cruiser, Beetle, Nissan Altima, Toyota Highlander, Mustang, Ford Saturn, Chevrolet Malibu, Subaru Outback and a Honda Civic. I even bought a second hand (or third, may be fourth) Toyota Corolla. What started as a fling, as an affair with cars, turned into a full time passion, an obsession, which continues even today.
The sacred bond of Marriage – XUV500, the beast on steroids.
After flings, infatuations and affairs, it was time to settle down. The SUV seed that was planted in the US, was now a full grown tree. I was dying to drive ‘my’ SUV to Himachal, to Uttranchal and on long roads trips across entire India. The big question was which SUV to buy? Tata Safari was like a childhood love. But childhood love has only one problem…by the time you grow up, you realize you don’t love her anymore. Your personalities are poles apart. It was an easy divorce, without mincing words.
I had other choices – either to buy Duster, a Scorpio or an XUV, or to wait and add another Rs 10-12 lakhs, and buy a Rs 32 lakh Fortuner. What? Extra 10-12 lakhs, which will take easily another 6-7 years of savings. By then, I’d be 43-44 years old. My patience had already given up. I seemed like a bachelor who was already 36 years old, had accelerated receding hairline but was desperately looking for a bride to settle down in life. Another 6-7 years wait could forgo this nuptial proposal forever. I had to take a decision.
When it comes to SUVs, I’m old school. SUV has to be 4×4 or AWD. Therefore, the options were simple – Duster AWD or XUV AWD (as Scorpio was not suave & urbane and did not have an AWD variant then). Since I was ready to splurge on my only passion, I decided to go ahead with XUV AWD … May be I am indecisive at times, sometimes unclear, but once I make up my mind over something, there is no looking back. Ever. I never regretted this decision… XUV…its engine is peppy (2197 CC), enormous power (140 bhp at 3750 rpm), rock steady in triple digits (140+ km/h), driving & overtaking is effortless and its loaded with insanely rich features. It is a beast, unleashed, running on steroids. Just imagine our own hero…our Green Hulk running wildly and elbowing everything obstructing its way… brute power. all the way.
My relation with XUV is just like Marriage…we both are taking care of each other since 2016… Just as Frank Martin of the movie ‘The Transporter’ says “If you take care of the car, the car will take care of you”. I tend to live by these words.
The Soulmate Car – Range Rover
My pockets aren’t deep. My CIBIL is not great. I have loans too and I live by the credit card. A simple aam-aadmi life. I smile when I get a simple message saying “Salary is credited”. But just like many others, I too have a dream and it has a name – THE Range Rover.
I wonder when zoomcar would add it to their fleet of cars, of course with insurance covering it from top to toe. At least then, maybe I can satiate my desire of driving this beautiful beast.
I dream of owning – The 5.0 Petrol LWB SVAutobiography variant costing around Rs 5 crores in India. Itna toh mera saalon ka CTC bhi nahin hai…but dreams are free, right. May be one day they’d slash the prices, just like upon introduction of new iphone series, the older one becomes cheaper, still out of bounds though. But seriously boss…Range Rover is the pinnacle of luxury SUVs segment.
Somewhere I read there was a discussion on Range Rover vs Ferrari. What Range Rover said to Ferrari was “you can drive fast, I can go anywhere”. Such is the stature of this beast….an all terrain machine…In short, when you marry Jeep’s terrific off-roading capabilities with Bentley’s luxurious posh cabins, the kid is known as Range Rover.
I’d sum my love for this beauty with brawns with Dharmandra’s 1973 song from Blackmail movie “Pal pal dil ke paas, tum rehti ho” – My Car Soulmate… Range Rover.
I am still in 4th stage (naah, don’t read it in sync. with cancer, abhi bahut jaan baaki hai mere dost) of my relationship with cars…the soul mate part is still awaited…hope Range Rover owners read my blog and gift me just one piece out of their vast assembly line…lowest variant without full tank of petrol and accessories will also work for me…
Guys! you owe me one for promoting your SUV, on my blog, free of cost… *as if vacationsnippets reach is in millions and I’m an influencer*…Inshallah, one day!
Each one of us have hobbies, passion and obsession within us… mine is cars! What about you?