When was the first time that you had a crush on someone? Class 2?? Was it the ponytail, the smile or just the fact that she had a lovely voice and brought chocolates for you daily? Or was it the fact that she used to go to school in the same auto-rickshaw?
My first crush was the most special. It was the summer of 1993. I was 3 years old and had just lost my front two teeth, making me look like a racoon. My parents took me to my aunt’s place in Delhi. I had been here few times before also, but this time, it was a different feeling altogether. Little did I know that this vacation will change my life completely.
After the usual exchange of pleasantries, we went to tour around the city. It was amazing to see those skyscrapers and so much traffic. The Laal Quila fascinated me. And the Jantar Mantar was a sight to behold. I wondered how strong the people were in those times, to have built all this without any glucose or chocolates. After that, we went to visit Appu Ghar, and I spotted the resemblance between Appu and my Maths teacher.
And one fine evening, Papa left for some work with Fufaji. I was playing with my cousin, regardless of what the grown-ups were upto. After a couple of hours or so, there was this strange noise from outside. Like an elephant was whistling. We rushed outside. And lo!! In the driveway, was the most beautiful sight ever. A creamy white Maruti 800. It had those amazing headlights, silky smooth paint with orange-peel texture and fresh leather seats. Even the tires were gleaming lush golden in the dusk. No matter from where you looked at it, she seemed to charm the heart right out of you. The crease running from the front wheel to the back lent a sense of royalty. The black bumpers were like the hull of a magnificient ship, waiting to tear into the heart of the ocean and battle the tide. And that color was the touch of purity. She wasn’t just a car, she was an apparition. The first love of a kid who never knew what it was to feel the heart flutter, or to learn that love at first sight isn’t just a myth. When she was on the road, it was a treat just to watch those wheels in motion. The roar of the engine was like a tigress getting ready to pounce on her prey. The steering resembled the reins of a mighty white stallion. She was the dream of a million Indians, who longed for the mystical bond between man and machine. She put India on the path of fine craftsmanship and paved a whole new horizon.
When I got into the seat for the first time, it was a revelation. I knew instantly that cars were what I was most passionate about. Every car, no matter the shape, size, make, power, efficiency or price, is special. It take enormous effort to build a car, and just as much to put soul in it. And for the first time, I noticed that Delhi was abuzz with lakhs of Marutis. Everywhere you saw, there had to be a speck of red or white. She literally put India on the road to prosperity.
We still have her and due my father’s sincere love for automobiles, she’s still in mint condition. I learnt driving in this car itself and though I have driven some better cars afterwards, I still cherish the grace with which she handles herself. We tried to sell her often, but each time, something held us back. Parting from her is unacceptable. A car isn’t just a mode of locomotion; it’s a way of life. It’s a belief, an obsession. And the butterflies in the stomach when you have one, driving into the sunset, just the two of you, with Bryan Adams crooning “Can you feel the love tonight?” on the company fitted stereo. :')