Tuesday, November 27, 2012
My husband Sudhir was a very strong individual--with sharply defined likes and dislikes.While he was very accomodating and obliging on many issues,he could turn to a stubborn mulishness over somethings that irked him--and then come Hell or High water--he just wouldn't budge!!Besides this he was very set in his mind about certain aspects of Life and living--and no one or nothing could shake him from those opinions.His idiosyncrasies were a topic for hilarity among our Family---and mostly he was called a "Bawaaji"--a term of local Mumbaiyya parlance used to describe Indian Parsis.
The Parsis are the descendants of the Zoroastrian Persians who migrated from Persia some 2000 years ago to India--the word Persian got localised into the nomenclature "Parsi".Thanks to our Mumbaikari Roots we have been interacting with this extremely lovable and loving Community--one that can really and truly laugh at itself heartily!!The Parsis are known to use their personal items with extreme care and respect---specially their Vehicles.Even today the advertisement of a Parsi owned Vehicle symbolises an almost new one in tip top condition--used sparingly and with extreme care!!My darling husband was a genuine Car lover--drooling and sighing over the sleekness and good looks of the Foreign brands.Our family owned a Plymouth and a Fiat when I got married but the Plymouth guzzled Petrol (Gas) like there was no tomorrow.Besides this, my brother-in-law Milind was a highly impatient man---he could never be bothered to refill the Gas Tank and as a result of this we'd run dry pretty often--stuck in the middle of a busy road!!It was Sudhir's job to check the Fuel--and thanks to that both of us enjoyed many Moonlit and Starlit nights on the Bombay roads----taking beautiful romantic long drives.That poor Car was badly abused whenever the entire Family took an outing together.The entire Family would be crammed into it--Milind and Nina,Sudhir and I,our sisters-in-law Kunda and Suhas as well as my MIL Atya.The children numbered 6 in total when I got married would be evenly distributed on our laps and one must not forget the stuffed Food Hampers in the Boot either!!These would contain Bottles of fresh Water,Biscuits,Snacks etc. and we'd take plenty of stops along the way---for a pre-ordered Lunch would be waiting for us at our destination!!I still look back on those Outings very fondly---Life was much simpler and we were young--what more did one need?
Those days we had pretty good Indian Brands---very sturdy and built to combat our terrain and our Weather conditions--and our Fiat --Premier Padmini took us on our Vacations along with the Plymouth pretty much without problems.Of course words like "Fuel Pump","Gasket" and "Hose Pipe" became extremely familiar and we got used to chanting our Hindu Hymns each time the effort to climb up the almost vertically steep slopes of the Khandala Ghat near Bombay began but the thrill of driving along the open vista of the Deccan Plateau with rural Maharashtra stretched out invitingly all around us is a memory that I will always cherish.Even today i recall the heat of the Summer Sun beating down on the roof of the Car--the windows rolled down and hot waves of the Wind created by the speed of the Car feeling dry and hot against our faces.The steep barren Peaks of the Sahyadris rose majestically on both sides--many of these crowned with rugged Hill forts.The contrast of the molten Golden heat of the Summer Sunshine pouring down from a pale Blue Summer Sky gilding the rustling green leaves of the Sugarcane planted alongside the Highway contrasting sharply with the starkness of the parched brownish yellow dryness of the Sahyadris is still crystal clear in my mind!!
However the attraction of Foreign Brands was always there and these were only available either through a Government enterprise called STC or second hand.!During his Summer vacation whenever we were in Bombay Sudhir would pore over the Vehicle Ads---noting down the 'Phone numbers and Addresses very seriously and then the two of us would venture forth--Car hunting!!I can never actually recall how many Cars we must have seen in those years--1970--1985 just driving all over town in the gruelling Summer heat to see and then test drive those Cars.There was a British Hillman--which we bought in 1982.A two door Car, this meant that Sayali was caged in the back--something that irked her immensely.She was in the habit of following Sudhir like the proverbial Mary's Little Lamb--and this was a sore point between her and me.She'd be out of the door in a flash--even before Sudhir alighted after parking the Car.Bombay traffic has always scared me and Sayali though extremely intelligent otherwise--turned into a brainless twit who threw caution to the winds in her hurry of not being left behind!!So for me the Hillman was God sent--and for her it was wrongful confinement!!!This little Car became a familiar sight on Bombay roads--my brother-in-law Milind said once in jest that it was even more used than a Taxi--for we rarely stayed home long enough to give a well deserved rest.Our last imported Car was a Peugeot 504--and after that we began buying Indian makes once more--beginning with a Maruti Suzuki which Sayali promptly named "Dhanno" after the Mare in the Indian Epic Western "Sholay"!!!
This was the Car Sayali learnt to drive on when she turned 18 years old--and along with her best friend Laxmi, this threesome took to Bombay roads in a big way.This little Car bowled along manfully on the roads---being subjected to various forms of indignity--like being towed from "No Parking" zones or bumping into other Cars--the Garage in the lane behind our Complex became one of Sayali's best refuges whenever she was in dire straits---they'd patch up the Car pretty well whenever any mishap occured---and this would escape Sudhir's Eagle eye for he would drive home after dark from Court and Office!!This reminds me of an incident that took place a year or so after she began driving.Sayali had some late Lectures that day and Sudhir had an early hearing.On reaching his car he noticed it had a punctured tyre.Thanks to this he decided to take Dhanno instead and after asking Sayali to get the puncture repaired he took off.He reached the Courts on time and everything was okay till he began his return home.Midway Dhanno stopped thanks to lack of Petrol--and just wouldn't budge an inch!!Exasperated he got some bystanders to help him push Dhanno to a Petrol Pump around the corner from where he was,filled the Gas tank to the brim and drove home--irritated and angry!!Sayali in the meantime had changed the punctured tyre but had not bothered to repair the Stepney. That night after Sudhir began his irritated spiel about how Dhanno was full of rattles,messy and smelt of Food besides not being filled up as and when needed despite Petrol Money being dished out regularly and so on and so forth,Sayali waited for him to wind down finally and then blithely said "Daddy by the way--you have to get that punctured tyre repaired and also--the Petrol tank in your Car needs to be filled too!!"