Saturday, August 19, 2006

The family car.

The first Mankar family car, a maroon and black Wolseley Wasp http://www.users.bigpond.com/jimjarron/car_pictures_files/wolseley_wasp.jpg used to be parked in the porch in the front part of the compound of 233 Khetwadi Main Road when I was, I’m guessing, five or so. So, it must have been purchased a few years earlier. I remember going for long evening drives with my mother up the Walkeshwar Road to the Malabar Hill Gardens, down the Marine Drive to the Chowpatty Sea Face and sometimes as far away as Cuffe Parade where now the Taj President stands. There used to be a raised pedestrian promenade along the Cuffe Parade Sea Face very similar to what you can still find at the Worli Sea Face. The other outings included visits to my two maternal uncles, my mother’s sister, two of her friends and a couple of shops where my mother used to shop regularly for sarees and silverware. The elder uncle used to reside on the ground floor of the house still extant opposite the Roxy Cinema on the Queen’s Road within walking distance of Royal Opera House, the cinema theatre of choice for V Shantaram and Raj Kapoor, that also used to double as a playhouse for Prithviraj Kapoor’s stage plays. (By the way, I was born in the Roxy-facing flat on a rain-drenched Janmashtami midnight in August.) Somewhere around 1948, the Wolseley made way for a brand new red Renault 4CV. This French car had just come into the market http://www.geocities.com/richardirl/oandd.html and had the distinction of being one of the few cars to reach the 1 million production mark in Europe. It was reputed to be the French retort to the German Volkswagen Beetle. It seemed more like flattery to me because it resembled the latter quite a bit. (That’s how I probably got infected with the Beetle bug. One of my youthful ambitions was to possess one.) I learned driving on the Renault and turned out to be an atrocious learner. I could just barely start and steer the vehicle but was very slovenly at parking. I once got a ticket for turning left at the traffic signal near the Church Gate Station from no less an officer than the Deputy Police Commissioner of Bombay (this was probably in 1954 or 1955). That worthy was under the impression that there was a traffic signal there. Fortunately for me, it was a free turn. I got acquitted in the Esplanade Court near the Victoria Terminus with my father defending me. My brush with the law was responsible, I guess, for the police putting a proper traffic signal at the Church Gate junction immediately afterwards. My father sold off the Renault around 1960 when it became almost impossible to maintain. Genuine spare parts were hard to come by. Also, I suspect, my father was not doing so well by then. Although I had a job in 1960, my salary could not have paid for a month’s petrol bill. The third family car which I bought came much later in the early 1980s. It was from the very first batch of Maruti Suzukis, s green and air conditioned Maruti 800. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzuki. Ashu and Abhi used to chauffer us around in it all over Mumbai and sometimes to Pune. Of the two, Abhi was the car connoisseur and really knew how to look after it well. (He had learned it, I reckon, taking care of the grey Fiat which his granny owned.) The Maruti was sold off around 1987 when Abhi went to the US for higher studies. Since then, the Mankar family car happens to be whichever black and yellow cab, mostly Fiat, I hail to go wherever I’m going at the time.

3 comments:

rashrocks said...

i remember 4717, which was the grey fiat and many lovely rides in it.
i also remember a green maruti.
i remember many a fight between the 2 brothers over who could use the car.
most of all, i remember the happy times in those cars,no matter who drove.

rashrocks said...

i remember 4717, which was the grey fiat and many lovely rides in it.
i also remember a green maruti.
i remember many a fight between the 2 brothers over who could use the car.
most of all, i remember the happy times in those cars,no matter who drove.

rashrocks said...

i remember 4717, which was the grey fiat and many lovely rides in it.
i also remember a green maruti.
i remember many a fight between the 2 brothers over who could use the car.
most of all, i remember the happy times in those cars,no matter who drove.