My wife bought a new car and the dealership gave her a huge cardboard key as if she had won a prize and Sir Cliff sang Congratulations.
It was quite embarrassing as I was made to drive the car that was decked out in green ribbons on the bonnet and side mirrors, out of the showroom, while sales executives took videos and the senior management shook our hands and clapped joyfully as Cliff Richard sang:
‘Congratulations and celebrations
When I tell everyone That you’re in love with me/
Congratulations and Jubilations
I want the world to know I’m happy as can be.’
It was a wonderful, crisp Bengaluru morning but I was perspiring, praying I would not run over the front desk lady who was grinning from ear to ear and holding a gift bag that had chocolates, a New Year calendar and a faux leather folder to hold our car insurance and other papers.
I was a bit rusty after not driving for nearly eight months and after enjoying the luxury of being driven around by Uber drivers, some of whom I was sure did not pass any driving tests.
But we passed through the open glass doors of the showroom uneventfully despite stories floating in my mind of people crashing through doors while inadvertently stepping on the gas while in reverse. My wife was also responsible for making me nervous as she had consulted Google to find out the most auspicious time to take possession of a new car, and the clock was ticking away from the ‘good time’, while the sales executives fawned over us. “Why can’t we keep four eggs on the floor and run over them to ward off any evil eyes,” I whispered to my wife, but she was not amused.
The sales executive came over and sat with us and went through the salient features of the Japanese car that is assembled in India and has major safety features like airbags and anti-skidding brakes and an infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity, but no high-tech missile launchers, like James Bond cars have.
It was an excruciating one month as my wife and I went from showroom to showroom trying to figure what car to buy that was best for this city’s roads, even as her Brit expat colleagues filled her with information like ground clearance (to glide over the potholes), the cubic metre space in the luggage area (to hold the huge suitcases that our sons usually travel with) and the torque (needed to accelerate real fast out of tight spots).
We test-drove mostly manual gear shifts (I test-drove as my spouse, like all good wives, believes only in back-seat driving) as I wanted more power and control over the vehicle, but my wife nixed the idea when I faltered on the busy Bellary Road and did not press down the clutch when changing gears and the car stalled, leaving the sales executive at my side pasty white in the face.
The dealership gave a Rs50,000 (Dh2,875) off the price as we were doing them a favour by taking a vehicle off their hands. The New Year was just around the corner and a whole new stock of 2018 models was expected from Greater Noida in the North.
The road tax was also paid by the dealership and I wondered why we had to pay any tax because the roads are in really bad shape with potholes that toss you around in the car like rag dolls.
Now that we have a car, we realised that people just park their cars in the underground parking and take Ola or Uber as the traffic is madness and there is never any parking space wherever you go, or they hire drivers to drive them around.
Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi.