Our first car- A Fantastico Fiat

I was in my 4th standard, moving to 5th, when our family had its first car-    A Premier Padmini or as people affectionately called it- A Fiat. Uptil then, we had been that good, old family of four on a scooter or a motorbike. But things changed and they changed for the better.


The Pledge

We got the car from my elder uncle who had had it for years and years. Grandma tells me that when he had first bought it, the all new automobile in all its glory, it was like buying a helicopter for everyone. She would then tell me sweet stories about how it took him so much time to learn to drive and others about how he used to get stuck in tough moves. That said, I had heartfelt memories of my own with that car. In all festivals, my uncle, ‘Bade Papa’ as I used to affectionately call him would come with my cousins and the car and we used to celebrate like anything. Also, when the car used to be parked in the muhalla outside of our home, I would always be in it, on it and around it all day. I so loved the idea of having a car around that I couldn’t help rush to see it the first thing in the morning. And everyone seemed to be fine with it too, motivated by the idea that I kept other muhalla kids away from the car who might ( and sometimes did) perform their works of art on it 🙂

This was the car I had bought my second cricket bat in, this was the car I had gone in for my Mundana Samskara and this was a car that had motivated one of my childhood dreams of buying a car of my own by collecting coins in an old powder tin. So it was fitting that when my uncle bought a new car, after all those years and was looking to get rid of the old one, my Papa offered to take it.

It was winter and I was flying kites on my roof when I heard the honk of a car approaching. I looked down on the street, seeing my Papa accompanied by a driver, approaching in my dream vehicle. Ever since morning, I had been waiting for him and seeing him finally, I literally left my kite in mid air and ran the two sets of stairs within seconds to get down. Reaching there, I took the keys from him and got to the pilot seat, turning the steering-wheel as much as it did locked, feeling like I was actually driving as I always used to do. But this time, something was different. It was our own car, our first car.

In the days to follow, my Papa would get a professional to learn how to drive. I accompanied them the first time he went to try on the car. He drove it and felt such satisfaction he had that he was all praises. He told us that he himself had learnt driving from a truck driver and that he detested driving those auto-rickshaw type vehicles. “This is the big thing”, he told us. I instantly liked him.

Three days after my Papa began his training, on a Sunday morning, I was to accompany them on the ride. Winter had started to get blooming and the car took minutes and minutes to start. He told us it happened with old cars on cold mornings and that we would just have to deal with it. Once it started, we set on a ride. But it wasn’t as smooth. A kilometer in, it again stopped and we had to get people to push so as to push-start it. I was still in the car when everyone was pushing and carefully observed every move the driver guy made. It looked like magic.

Once the car started, he took care not to let it go down again. Even when he switched seats with my father, he left it started. We were now moving to the more remote part of the town, somewhere I had never been. And God I loved the view. It was a chilly morning but the sun could just be seen along a small pond we were navigating parallel to and it all looked exotic. I felt like why do we have to go for vacations to such distant places when we could get such beauty at home. I also kept paying close attention to whatever the guy used to tell my Papa and loved the detail with which he did that. My Papa then got  the car fully repaired, fixing all the faults that it was likely to make.

On similar Sundays and other holidays, I would always accompany my father in the morning and also when the sessions shifted to night. We would drive through the town and markets to a beautiful temple at the outskirts, pay obeisance to the lord and come back. It lasted a month and it was a memory for life.

The Turn

After it was over, all four of us would drive across the town in the car only. It still took time to start but we didn’t care. Many times, just having a car created reasons to go for a ride. “Let’s go to that temple today in the car”, “Let’s go shopping in the car”, ” Let’s go eating in the car” and many such silly things. But we were kids and Maa-Papa didn’t deny.

Came Holi and my Papa got the car fully transformed from cream to jet-white. He got new seats and new locks and it didn’t look like the old thing it was. When my uncle came that Holi, he was so happy to see how much we loved the car. He jokingly offered my kid sister to exchange it for his new car and she straight-away denied. It made everyone laugh their hearts out.

For months and months, our bond kept on getting better and better. Soon’ it’ became ‘she’ and part of the family. But after a couple of good years, she started breaking down. Maybe she had seen everything for her days; maybe she needed a rest. But we didn’t give up on her yet. Papa kept pumping money for the sake of the love we all shared for her.

One day, as my parents were going for a marriage, it broke down on the railway line and wouldn’t start. My Papa tried and tried but to no avail. He got some people to push start it but it didn’t. Soon, the authorities on the crossing got the signal for a train approaching and a group of policemen and other people picked the car to move it away from the concerned area. When the mechanic saw to it then, he asked us to get rid of it.

That year, with the beginning of my class 7th, Papa got an easy car loan from his company to buy a new car. I was yet again excited and when it came, we were, supposedly the only middle-class people in the muhalla to own two cars at once. But we still had to get rid of the alpha- the fantastico Fiat. Papa started looking for some potential buyers and we were soon down to two good ones- one an auto-repair shop owner who also ran several taxies and the other an old rich personality of the muhalla who loved collecting vintage cars. He owned two other Fiats too, older than ours but still wanted it. All of us discussed as to whom we should finally sell it. Even though the taxi guy was offering a little more, we all agreed on the rich gentleman. We though she would get some rest there instead of being run like hell as a taxi.

The Prestige

A few months later, as we were returning from a temple visit in our new car, my father pointed to us our old one, restored in its original cream, being driven so smoothly by the elderly gentleman. In that moment, we knew that our first car was resting good and still living. We realized that to simply stand in a garage was the real death to a car and that it still got on the road for short trips kept the ‘she’ part of her still going. We told each other that it was in the right hands.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today. The post covers key ideas like Fantastico, Impact and Navigation.


Navigation through a train of thought

It’s like Tolstoy said. Happiness is an allegory, unhappiness a story.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore


Ever since I was a kid, I used to look out of that train’s window which I would be taking during my vacations every summer. I had my mind undertaking its usual navigation through the various things I would do in these vacations- how I would wake up late in the morning, have those scrumptious meals in breakfast, then go on whole day playing various games with my cousins and sleep late playing cards- all without a care in the world. It doesn’t really get any more trafficky then a child’s mind, only the vehicles there are always in motion. So, even with the trafficky mind contemplating the scenes outside the window, I could care about a great many things.

I could see how the electricity wires kept on rising and rising in height until they met a pole or a tree where they bent down. I used to wonder why it happened. I even cheered them to keep on rising, praying in my mind to not get a tree anytime soon, but their ascent was always broken and it looked tragic to me. I never formed any higher motifs of life from watching those things; I couldn’t. But what mattered was that I still looked out for them, in cheerful anticipation of a height I hadn’t seen reached before.

I would also look out to see the huts, mud-houses and thatched roofs on my way. I would see people going about their work not knowing or even trying to think about my passions, my mind and my story. I used to realize that just like me, they too would be having their own stories. Because they were real people and not like in films where they only come about for a few seconds and vanish. I used to wonder as to what their story would be- behind beating that blanket with a bat, behind mending that bicycle with a wrench and behind running along the train with a kite.

I used to form stories about those people, partly under the impact from those ever so useful textbooks that taught me stories about how a group of village boys would run at the sound of the train and partly through my own imagination of how I saw them. It was all done within the mind and to satisfy it. Having done, I would feel a lot better.

But things are very different now. There isn’t so much traffic in my mind but the vehicles seem to just block the way and stay there. They do not move. Yet, I still look out of the window and I still see all those people, exactly the way they were when I was a kid. But I no longer ask myself as good questions as I used to. I seem to have lost the zeal for it. I no longer form elaborate stories in my mind watching them, even though I can do it better now. At best, I try to pass rational judgements to what they do and my imagination goes a slow sleep.

“Am I turning old” , I wonder. “Why is it that I have lost that curiosity that used to drive me? And why I can’t I care more?”. But I don’t find the answers and go to bed.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

5 peppy ways to lose the friend zone


If you have been living under a rock for the sake of that girl you have a crush on and have been attending to all her needs without equal remuneration or even recognition, lose the friend zone. If it has been too long since you two have been ‘friends’ and you don’t think you will ever be more than that in her eyes, lose the friend zone. If you are one of those unluckiest of people she rehearses her lines to impress her crush on, lose the friend zone. You can do it yourself and you DO NOT need to read this post. It was you who got yourself into this and you know better than anyone what you did wrong. Still if you like, here are 5 peppy ways to escape that ditch-

#1- Tell her you love a girl; let her be an enemy


If you want to have an immediate resolution or a certainty test of your friend zone, tell her you are in love with/like  a girl. Pick someone who she hates or rather despises secretly but hasn’t discussed with you. All this time walking left right left with her should at least do some good to you and you should know a girl like that. Doing this serves two purposes.

  • It brings about that jealousy factor in and believe it or not, movies have taught this thing right. It is even better if the intended girl is her enemy because it not only increases the jealousy factor manifold, it gives your case a higher prominence in her eyes. In a nutshell, it gets her thinking about you.
  • If she does not react the way you guessed and she just isn’t into anything with you, you get to know it and can move on (maybe with the girl you mentioned)

Also, ask her to help you out in making things work between the two of you. That gives you the power over her because now she is expected to do something FOR YOU instead of the usual other way round.


#2- Change your choices, act like an anti-her.

The whole soulmates jargon is flawed and the only true rule is that ‘opposites attract’. You are her friend because you seem to do the same shit together. Maybe you chose do to all that so as to be with her. You go shopping, watch similar movies out, like the same food and she doesn’t need to think and change anything. So change your choices instead. Tell her you like Punjabi food and not the Italian crap. Tell her you think Salman Khan is the god of actors and that you will only watch his films.

Change yourself in ways that she has to make an effort to be with you. When she does that, you become a priority instead of being taken for granted.


#3- Stop being ‘nice’ to everyone-

When you are being a nice person in front of everyone, you are not winning any points. She may assume you are simply like that. Instead, try to be good to her only and not everyone. This would make her feel privileged. Then slowly, get to step 4.

#4- Stop being the dog catching the ball

It’s bad enough to be the dog catching the ball and even worse to do so before she can throw it. Taking care of her needs without being asked for is a strict NO NO. In fact, start being selective in granting her favours. Let her know that you don’t get 48 hours a day and that what you do for her is not a Mother Teresa’s act.


#5- Get fantastic and start making an impact-

Work on your looks. You can’t become a Brad Pitt overnight but you can try to be your best. Become that and take it from there. Start being dominating with other people in front of her and make an impact to get her to notice your dynamics. Play tricks on her and get her to see your quirks. Mild flirting is the best, that is, if you can.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

That girl visiting Lucknow

They may talk of a comet, or a burning mountain, or some such bagatelle; but to me a modest woman, dressed out in all her finery, is the most tremendous object of the whole creation.

It was the day after Christmas. We were in Lucknow for our vacations and for 20 odd days, the only outing we had had was to our relatives’ homes, visiting them and playing cards. It was nothing like we didnt’ have time but that we I chose not to go out all that often. YES, I am the stay at home boy and I prefer spending my free time with movies, books and myself. So naturally, I am a misfit with the family and they keep passing all those comments on me in ill temper. But as it turned out on that day, things were a bit different.

A female cousin of mine, someone I hadn’t seen in like a year was home for a Christmas break. And my own sister had been bugging us all those days to visit the ‘Bada Imambara’. She had just gone to college and when people used to ask her ‘What’s in Lucknow?’, she was at a loss of words. So that day, she wanted to get this out of her way and it being a Saturday, convinced everyone to visit, EVERYONE but me. And so, she plotted. She began by telling me that we were going to visit my cousin’s home and see her. Then, if she agrees to accompany us, we would go visit Imambara.

Now I was all too fine with visiting my cousin as she would be leaving in a day or two and we wouldn’t be meeting for another half an year or so. Also, the prospect of visiting the Imambara with her family and ours didn’t seem all that bad. Without further thought, I agreed. We reached her home at 1 p.m. We sat about for a while, did some catching up and then my sister threw in the dice. She asked my cousin to come with us to Imambara and the ever so peppy girl she is, agreed without the slightest bit of hesitation. The game was on.

We reached the Imambara at about half past 2. It’s a rather tough drive towards the older part of Lucknow and you have to navigate your way through fares, shoddy crossings and what not. Now the Bada Imambara isn’t just a single building but it has multiple structures within its premise and in the tour. It has the Bhool Bhulaiya, the Imambara, Art gallery, Chhota Imambara and Bouli.  Also, before you enter, you have to buy tickets firsthand, that is to say, if you want to visit just the Bhool Bhulaiya, buy ticket for that but you cannot buy another ticket inside if your mind swings to visiting the Imambada too. Careful not to make any mistakes, we bought the complete package tickets  (which were more economical too) and went in.

The first structure we visited was the Bouli. The guys on the entrance slashed the Bouli part of our tickets and let us go. We hired a guide, something you must if you really want to enjoy the tour, and went about. After that, we got rid of our footwear at a shoe-place there and went for the Imambara tour and finally Bhool Bhulaiya. It was quite good actually with the guide trying his very best to amaze us by telling about the mysterious and magical engineering and architecture of them all. There is the ancient surveillance camera, the sound navigation systems inside walls and the intricate architecture of the Nawabs. But I remained doubtful at times, triggering his desire to convince me more and more so as to impress me. Finally, at well past 5, the tour was over and  I thanked him. He asked if I enjoyed the tour and with half a heart, I said Yes.

Then we collected our shoes from the place and just as I sat putting them on with my cousin and sister on either side, I saw the most beautiful girl I had ever laid eyes on. Now you probably might have heard this phrase many a times, my dear reader, but this is not something that I use all that often. This was the girl that leaves an impact. Hell, I have seen my share of pretty girls, all dressed up well and good with boys crooning around them. But this wasn’t just that kinda pretty girl. She was the frigging Helen of Troy. And I am not exaggerating when I say that. Talk about launching a thousand ships, this girl could bring the next Apocalypse.

Oh how should I tell you about her!  Nabokov once said how it takes a murderer to write a prose style as poetic as to describe a beautiful girl. Maybe you should stop reading, my compassionate reader, for I don’t think I can really describe that girl, standing there, trying her boots on that blessed winter evening. But for your sake, I will try. She stood at about a 5 feet and two inches from the ground and she was clad in a pink parka jacket. And she had the eyes of that infamous doe that can only be bettered by thick framed square spects. Luckily she had them on too. You could tell she was from the elite class.

In that state of mine, I confided in my cousin how beautiful a girl this one was. She turned to where my eyes were and said “Yes, really”. I turned and saw her looking at some little girl in her mother’s arms. I laughed and slightly dunked her forehead, turning her face towards the Helen. For a minute, she looked, really just looked at her. Then she remarked something about my birdwatching. I told her she was the most tremendous thing I had ever seen and she didn’t seem surprised. I asked her to come with me and take a photo of the girl (coz, I don’t use a smartphone). She hesitantly agreed. By this time, she was making her way with a VAST family group towards the exit. We tried to rush there but at the first stairs my mother called us, asking to come to her. I felt disheartened but went back.

My mother asked me where we were going and I told her- “There is a very beautiful girl out there and I am going to get a photo with her”. She asked me where she was and I told her she couldn’t see from there. I then asked, “Can I go? no problem right?” and to my utter surprise, she said “Yes, go on”.

I grabbed my cousin’s hand and we again rushed in her direction. On my way, my cousin asked- “So…we are going to take the picture without her knowledge right?”

I laughed at her and said, “How can I get a decent picture WITH her without her knowledge. I am going to ask her for it.”

My cousin got a bit freaked out and said, “Hey, I don’t know you OK. She has so many brothers they are all going to kick you in the guts if you do that”.

I told her what I wanted to tell her,”I want to make her realize that there is the Bouli behind her and then there is Imambara and further Bhool Bhulaiya and on top of it, the whole view of Lucknow city. But here I am wanting a picture not with any of them but with her.”

She still seemed skeptical but didn’t say anything. Soon as we reached where her group was, near the Bouli, they went inside. Now we, having already visited Bouli couldn’t visit again! So we waited there, for about 15-20 minutes but she was nowhere to be seen.

By then, our families were returning to the other way to the exit. I looked at the Bouli and my heart ached. I remembered the guide telling me that nothing can be seen from the outside of Bouli and nothing escapes the eyes of a person inside it. As it turned out, I was screwed by an architectural masterpiece.

My parents called me to return and my cousin rushed back without stopping for me. With a heavy heart I returned too. On the gate, I handed the parking ticket to my father and asked them to carry on as I wanted to buy some bhelpuri. They did as I went to the Bhelpuri stall. Someone had just ordered 12 packs and it was taking time. By the time my number came, his puffed rice was over and he went on to open another packet for me . Just as he returned with the packet, I saw that girl returning with her big big family and mounting a chariot of some sort they were to take a groupie on. I looked at her, for the final time and took a mental picture.

I still haven’t forgotten her face.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today. This post is about the impact girl. For another post that refers her, click here.