Wednesday, December 01, 2010


She was bright, she was gleaming; she was hot, she was teeming. She stood there with an assured confidence and a mild arrogance that only added to her charm. The red satin ribbons wrapped around her taut body made her look virgin and inviting like an unopened gift. And it was inviting for sure—passersby stopping to gaze at her briefly, which from a distance seemed like a look of admiration or approval. She was certainly an eye candy to behold. She was our new car. We were proud – and neighbors envious.

For a middle class family in India, owning their first car is symbolic in a way which states that “they have arrived”. It symbolizes a move up in the social ladder. It is about finally achieving a status, which millions of middle class Indian families aspire to.

The usual sniffy car owned inhabitants of your apartment who may have unwittingly been patronizing to you all these days, now welcome you to their clan, albeit reluctantly. After all, who would want to dilute one’s privileged status. And not just that; a new car’s arrival makes their car look older. So, their approval too is laden with a tinge of envy. You also observe that you are being invited by them for tea a little too often—a glowing indicator that you are now one of them.

The move however is not without its share of awkwardness and clumsiness in the beginning for the new car owner. Firstly, adjusting to this newly acquired social status, asks of him to act and behave in a particular way. There is something about the body language of a car owner that is so upwardly mobile. The men dropping their kids early morning to the bus stand with shorts looks so stylish. Whereas, wearing shorts on a scooter looks stupid. The ease with which they don their sun glasses while driving seems very natural and uber cool on them. All in all, there is an element of “richness” about the car owners that the non car owners do not possess.

The clumsiness hits a new car owner in the initial days in his effort to fit in. He is in a dilemma whether to wear shades driving a car. He is concerned it may look pretentious. It may also look condescending to other non car owners of his apartment. He then concedes; there is no need to show off. And a moment later he justifies himself against it thinking; it doesn’t matter as long as I remain nice and sensitive to everyone. And thus plays a whirlwind of emotions in his mind on how to project the right social behavior; a confusion only a sanctimonious Indian middle class would bear to have.

It takes months for him to be at ease with himself and his self proclaimed exalted social status.
And then one fine day sipping his early morning coffee, his eyes catch a glint through the edge of his window curtains. He looks on and sees a beaming new car, ribbon wrapped standing beside his own car. He feels an ache pierce through his heart.


Anonymous,  Thursday, December 02, 2010 3:14:00 AM  

Loved the beginning..:D

put the car picture in the end

Anonymous,  Saturday, December 11, 2010 9:05:00 PM  

Valeria, are you sure!!!

Anonymous,  Saturday, December 25, 2010 8:20:00 PM  

I'll have what she's having.

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