Regular readers of this column may remember how my mother perfidiously sold my ancient yellow Maruti Zen, named Peeli, while I was out of the country. She claimed that Peeli was no longer roadworthy, but even though she convinced me to move on to a new vehicle, I’d refused to let her sell Peeli, for sentimental reasons like psychosis. So she waited until I was safely in Spain before throwing her to the wolves.
After I stopped mourning Peeli, I slowly found love again with my silver Maruti Zen, named Chandi. This was a cooler, more detatched love, however, so when the time inevitably came, last December, when my mother cast her cold eye upon Chandi’s bashed-up silver carapace and pronounced her to be no more than a little tin can with no safety features, I must say that I was not shattered. Chandi was at an age and stage where she still fetched a decent resale price. I yearned to trade her in for yet another Zen, but they no longer make the version I like.
So, a week or so ago, I exchanged her for a new Maruti A-Star. Buying the A-Star was a surreal experience in which the dealership kept promising to deliver a car that it turned out hadn’t even been manufactured, on a date that consequently began to slide the minute they had cashed my booking cheque, in a series of tones they seemed to be trying out for kicks.
“[Cheerily] Two more days, ma’am!”; “[Apologetic but confident] You’ll have it on Thursday—a hundred and ten percent!”; “[Sheepish and wheedling] Next week, ma’am. What to do, there aren’t any in the factory…”; “[Brazen lies] You’ll have it on the 2nd, at 11am!”; “[Triumphant] Ma’am, I’ve arranged a car for you!” “[Shameless] Ma’am, just three-four more days, ma’am.” “[Martyred and severe] Ma’am, with great difficulty I’ve gotten a car for you.”
I tell you, I don’t know how I’m ever going to repay their kindness.
Anyway, the A-Star is a weird-looking car with a dumpy snout of a fender, flared nostrils for headlights, and slinty little eyes for rear seat windows. I have no idea why anyone would purposely design these features in isolation, but the net effect is inexplicably compelling—a kind of gangster’s moll composed of Lego, or an edgy cartoon.
She was driven to my door, a bright red assault on the eyes, and when I saw her parked on the curb with her suspicious little eyes and ridiculous porcine nose, I felt immediate and great, possibly psychotic, love. She has airbags! And an anti-lock braking system, whatever that is! And a key that locks and unlocks her from quite far away! And a light that fades gently rather than snaps off! And an integrated music system! And I get the impression that I’d better not mention her silly looks, or cross her in any way, if I don’t want to end up sleeping with the fishes.
My mother tried valiantly to take her to the temple for a little ceremonial mumbo-jumbo, or at least to drive over four lemons placed in front of the wheels, but I didn’t even register her voice for all the angels and hosannas in my ears. Instead I took her straight to the petrol station and filled up her tank, which is represented in her cool digital display.
Thus I welcomed into my life the one and only Baby Boss.
I regret to report that I didn’t even give Chandi a last glance—they had to ring my doorbell to return the badminton rackets and shuttlecocks left in the back seat. Oh well; one moves on.