“You have a Ford Figo? Why do you have a Ford Figo! It is a… small car, given your dad’s a doctor!”. These were my friend’s words, which made me think about my childhood when we did not own any car.
My dad started his profession as a doctor with his independent practice. At that time it wasn’t economically viable for us to buy a car. All we had was a scooter. A black coloured two wheeler on which our three membered family would ride on happily without any hitch. At that time, the June-July heat won’t matter as mum would cover my head with her dupatta. And I was always too busy seeing the activities of the city to care about the sultry heat. I wonder how I survived the heat at that time without any AC in the car, or for that matter without any AC at home too! Whenever my cousin would visit us during the summer vacations, the four of us would ride on the scooter without any difficulties, our legs dangling at both sides of the ride. Travelling out of state, we would board a bus. It isn’t as if people I knew did not have cars at that time. They did, but it never bothered me that why we didn’t have one. Childhood doesn’t understand the superficiality of the society.
After some years we bought our first car, Maruti 800. Onion blue in colour, it was a treat to have a car of one’s own! I was thrilled and super excited at having a car now, though I missed the scooter a lot. We had that car for some years. The AC which wasn’t needed some time before was now a bliss during the summer months. Even the grinding noise that the AC made was lost somewhere in the cool air it gave out. Through the glass, I would see out-side and pity the people commuting in such unbearable weather on petty two wheelers. Oh, poor you. I had an AC car now, you know!
Time went on and cars were changed with the going times. Now, it is impossible to travel to the next block without the AC working. The car is a social statement of your stand in the society. And it is a compulsion for the “high class” to have at least one “big car” for going to parties and social gatherings. My next door neighbours have an SX4. Another one has an Audi parked comfortably in the parking lot. What is funny is that these cars are not used for the purpose for which vehicles were made, i.e, saving time and energy and reaching the desired destination with comfort. The Audi is taken out once a week just to keep it in a running condition. It is driven just around the block at a time of the day when traffic is minimal. Going to the market, or to the office? Take the Wagon-R! If that is what is needed, why spend so much on a showpiece?
I am not against being materialistic. It took me time to understand that owning a big car would not affect us in any way. The only affect would be a liability in the form of car loan. Umm… not that attractive. I don’t get the idea of the four wheeler being in tandem with the class of the society one belongs to. How would owning a Merc make one a better professional or having an Audi uplift the status is one thing I do not, and probably will not understand. A doctor in an Audi would treat his patient the same way as a doctor travelling in a Maruti, wouldn’t he?