That’s what I thought when I saw the Santro for the first time. Perhaps, the lack of a driving license explained this as I saw a lady colleague pull into the parking lot in her sparkling new Santro. Perhaps this envy also explained the distaste for the Santro which looked like a ballooned Maruti 800. Years later, I still have that distaste despite the rave reviews.
Realise now that this was in some way due to the lack of disconnect. I had no memories associated with the automobile unlike a 800 or the Raja car-the Ambassador.
This was likely more to do with the owner of this White Giant, my uncle. A huge rollicking man with the biggest moush I had ever seen and a snout that matched the moush. Those boiled toffees he carried (Don’t know if you remember this, a Parry’s coconut toffee and a hardboiled toffee in a green wrapper) and the ever-willing chauffeur to us band of rowdy kids. We could soil his Ambassador with our toffee-stained hands and jump up and down on the seats which seemed more a billowy sofa. This was so unlike, years later when an aunt had us wash our hands and wipe our legs before she let us sit in her precious Opel, which was lined with newspapers and plastic covers to protect its interiors against the ‘still’ rowdy band of now-adults.
The Raja Amby bore us around the seven hills to Palani; witnessed many a squabbles among various factions in our HUF (around 30 of us at any point in time). Our beloved ambassador was a part of the family till we lost THE Man to cancer.
One of the hilarious and memorable trips was a road trip to our village and from there to several villages across Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and almost Kerala as we renewed acquaintance with family members we never knew existed. Our Amby bore us valiantly as we criss-crossed paddy fields, water-bodies, tranquil peanut fields and merry sun flower farms, vast tracts of greenery that seemed endless and serene; indulged our gourmet selves with idlies, pongals, dosas and vadas along shacks on the roadside (naa, we were too young and foolhardy to know gastro or dilli-belly was) with water from the nearest brooks; We took bath in huge water tanks meant to irrigate the fields and little rivulets our states seem to have which got our naïve selves debating why we still complain of water shortage and droughts.
Our road trip in this sturdy giant had us appreciate nature and its many-splendoured spectacles. We lost count of the number of peacocks, mongoose and foxes we saw along the way. Not to mention wild fowls, a few snakes, egrets, cormorants, ducks and our friend The Jumbo..