I was 18 and it was my birthday. This was the day I was legally allowed to appear for a driving test in India. I had scheduled a test for that day and I went to take the test. Since I was driving since I was 12 I aced the test and came home with the license.Â
My dad took me the following weekend to a dealer and asked me to select the color of the car I had wanted for long. I choose silver. From the moment I set eyes on the car I loved it. Driving is a passion to me now. But eight years ago it was my obsession. There was something great in being eligible to drive and get the license as well.Â
To this day and probably for ever I cannot forget the memories associated with those moments and of my first car. I can vividly remember the dress I wore, the persons we met on that special day.
My very own Maruti 800, which was popularly nicknamed as ‘a Doctor’s First car’ was delivered to me on the following Wednesday after all the formalities of registering and insuring were complete. It was time for me to do the honors and go for a drive.
The car was a 2000 year Model with four wheel drive. There was no power steering. The transmission was manual. It had four forward gears and a reverse. The tank can holdup to 28 liters. It has a 4 person capacity. The color was known as ‘silky silver’ in the automobile circle.
I received the keys and immediately wanted to go for a drive. I asked my mom to come with me. I took my grandad as well and went for a drive round our block. I was flying. It was an amazing feeling that cannot be explained in words.
After that I enjoyed every moment that I drove the car. I almost started living in it to the point that the first place anyone came looking for me was the garage where she was parked in all glamour. I used to carefully wash her every morning. I was told by our driver that washing with soap took away the shine and wiping dry after every wash allowed the shine to remain for a longer time. So I never use a soap to this day.Â
I lived with my grandparents and it was not unusual for my aunts and uncles to visits us often. There were only two parking spots inside the garage and I always fought with them, asking them to leave grandad’s car outside the garage and not mine.Â
Neither my mom nor my dad came prying to look into the car. So it automatically became my secret hideout. May it be my test grades or the stash of chocolates or anything that did not want the attention of others I had it in my dashboard. The storage of the car was filled with my books.
I self drove the car to college. I was the only student to drive to college. That made my car every other students envy, hence my pride. I was allowed to park with the professors since there was no separate car parking for the students.
I was selfish when it came to the car. I never allowed anyone to drive it. I always did everything concerning the car by myself. I did not decorate it with stickers. On the insides too there were no fancy velvet seats and high bass stereos. There wasnt even any stereo. I wanted to enjoy the car and the pleasure of driving to the fullest. So I did not want to be disturbed with noise.
I had no air conditioner. But I didn’t need one, even during the scorching summer months. The car was dear not only to me but to my cousins too. They did not want to drive. They wanted to ride with me. I enjoyed taking them out to ice creams and movies. The car allowed me to act and do things like a grown up.
After I went on to work as a lecturer six years later the car was still a hit. I used to drop a few of my colleagues enroute to home. It was a place where we had our lunches. Though a compact car, it accommodated six persons with ease.
I got married and came to the States in 2008. I had to sadly leave my car behind. My mom is using it now. She has since changed the battery once. She also replaced the backup tone of the reverse gear. Though I have driven many other cars and a few SUVs I miss my 800.Â
I recently read in a news report on the hinduonnet.com that the makers are facing out the Maruti 800 due to emission standards and that in a few years no more new cars will be produced. I immediately felt bad for those, who like me were planning while growing up to make this their first car.
I was planning on making a family tradition by getting my son one on his 18th birthday. But sadly that is no longer possible. One thing I am looking forward to when I go back is to place my feet on the accelerator of my Maruti and take my son for a drive.