“Mom, I want that.”
I was five, and my mom had taken me along to a nearby departmental store. I stood gazing at the toy section, my attention riveted on a die-cast Ferrari toy-car. “Mom! MOM! I waaan-“. I looked around, and spotted her at the grocery section. Running to her, I pleaded again. “Please mom, buy me that Ferrari! I promise that’ll be my last car.” Of course, she knew that was not to be. Familiar with my love for those little cars, my mom fulfilled my wish. I walked out of the store beaming with delight, with the Ferrari in my hands.
Year by year, my fleet of die-cast cars expanded rapidly. By the time I was ten, it had grown to epic proportions, boasting of fifty-odd little vehicles. R/C cars, push-back, cars whose doors and even hoods could open, you name it. Guys at Mattel Inc. would’ve made a huge fortune, thanks to my swanky Hot Wheels collection. Every make had a healthy representation, with Maruti Suzuki in the lead (it’s the biggest car manufacturer in India, mind you. They make the most fuel-efficient cars and released a series of TV adverts about this, here’s one). I’m just too obsessed with cars, you see.
I still have some of those cars with me. I’d have had most of them, but they were thrown around all over the place till they were badly mutilated (courtesy my younger brother). RIP, poor things.
When I’d gotten too old for my toy cars, I turned my attention to auto mags. Top Gear, Overdrive, Autocar, and what not. Initially, I bought them only for the posters. I’d tear our every poster carefully, put it up in my room, and forget about the magazine. As I grew older, I turned to the write-ups and tried to enlighten myself.
I remember my dad asking me, “Son, what do you want to be when you grow up?” I was probably seven or eight then, and replied, “Mmm, I’d like to sell cars. Marutis.” Ah, the sight of my dad’s frown shall remain etched in my memory forever.
I did everything I could to satiate my appetite for automobiles. Then came the big opportunity. The Auto Expo was scheduled at New Delhi in January, 2012. My Math exam was to be held two days later. I was not gonna let this opportunity go, and with a quick prayer to the Math gods, I purchased a ticket. I visited as many stalls as I possibly could. Merc, Yamaha, Audi, Maruti Suzuki and Chevy impressed me the most. I took three HUGE Suzuki Hayabusa posters (the lady at the Suzuki stall was very kind indeed). One of those posters adorned my hostel room till I had to head back home for the vacations. Curse my luck, I lost my camera just after leaving the venue. It had 200+ pictures on it, and it took me days to recover from the loss (of the pictures).
Thanks to my school, I got a chance to visit the BMW Studio, Connaught Place and catch a glimpse of the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept car. It was a real treat to the eyes. Futuristic, efficient and environment-friendly. I hope it hits the road soon (the folks at BMW promised so). The sad part – it costs a shit ton.
I’ll leave you with a photo of the proud survivors of my fleet. Unfortunately, the Ferrari couldn’t be found.