Car car dekho

Rahul da CunhaI come from a school of thought that believes cars have unique personalities — and, in fact, it is they that choose their drivers, not vice versa. Back in the day, when man liked his fellow man, and road rage didn’t exist, Fiats and Ambassadors plied our city’s roads.

Fiats were quite humble — built by friendly Italians and mollycoddled by fastidious Parsis. Ambassadors were arrogant in comparison but only to compensate for their rotund, unmuscular bodies.

Our roads now have a new breed of cars. If clothes maketh the man, then these cars definitely unmaketh the man. Here are some of the types that you will have encountered in your daily ‘yatras’:

1. THE CAR WITH THE ROTATING LIGHT — This official car is usually white, with a revolving red cherry on top. It is power-crazed and has a serious chip on its shoulder. “I work for the government”, it proclaims. “I own the road.” “When I appear in my finery, everyone else better move aside, so my cavalcade and I can pass, like true royalty.”

(The irony is that no one budges an inch for that other vehicle with the rotating red light, commonly called an ambulance.)

2. THE ARMED FORCES CAR — This vehicle has a serious identity crisis. It believes it is a ship on the high seas and so sets sail in the fast lane. There are no indicators on ships, so this car will veer left or right, with no prior warning. This car is meant to protect our seas and our borders, but it is us who need protection from it.

Illustration/ Amit Bandre

3. THE HOODLUM CAR — This car should be behind bars. A law unto itself, it will always drive on the wrong side of the road, treat a one-way lane as a two-way, and perennially behaves like it is ready for a street fight. Acutely aware that the city has become anarchic, it is prepared to exploit every driving loophole. It is a true ‘Dada’, other cars fear it, and authority secretly respects it.

4. THE FOREIGN EMBASSY CAR — This is one endomorphically built car, bigger than most of its Indian brethren, and wears its yellow number plate as a colonial badge. This automobile has become so used to invading and colonising countries around the world, it behaves no differently in Bombay.

5. THE CROREPATI CAR — This expensive four wheeler usually costs about the same as a small island. It constantly blows its own trumpet, and has a heightened need for attention. It embellishes its exterior with expensive bells and whistles, all in a desperate attempt to disguise inferiority with superiority. “See how rich I am”, is this car’s mantra. So, dear Mumbaikar, which car drives you?

Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62

The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.

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