Un-holy-ing car

Bertrand D'souza  /
10 Jun 2016 19:57:28 IST

Why is a car purchase in India such a sacred event? How and when did a commodity purchase turn into a religious event? We turn up at car or bike showrooms to take delivery of our new vehicle with a box of sweets and a coconut. We purchase cars on auspicious occasions, pestering dealers to make sure delivery is handed over on just those particular days. And then showrooms record how they delivered a few hundred vehicles on that same day. Through the year they find it hard to manage to deliver more than 10 vehicles in the same day without running into a hitch. But then comes Dassera or Akshay Trithiya or Gudi Padwa, and I get press releases on how so and so showroom in a B-town somewhere in India delivered a few hundred vehicles in one day! How many of those customers came back with complaints the next day is anybody's guess. Did PDI (pre-delivery inspection) get done thoroughly? How many warranty claims got filed the next day? You guessed it, no press releases ever!

Car Purchase

Purchasing a car is such a trivial matter these days, and yet we somehow manage to equate this affair with something holy. Where did this practice start? I'm not sure but I'm willing to bet it has something to do with the Indian mythology where warriors blessed their chariots and steeds, bedecked them with garlands before riding off into war. We don't ride into war anymore, people. Driving to work on Monday morning and heading home Friday evenings are another matter, but our automotive purchases are a lifestyle choice. Like you'd buy a new TV or a smartphone or a pair of TODs. You don't bless your fancy new and expensive Nike trainers, do you?

My mum also used to keep haranguing me " you purchased a new car/bike, go to church, get the priest to bless it! I do understand the many holier than me implications of this purchase. Some do the whole blessing thing to make sure they continue to have the no claim bonus gods on their side. Others do it in the hopes that the dealer they made the purchase from does not try and recover the discounts they were offered, during service.

We are not in the '60s any longer. People don't have to wait for 2 years to get delivery of their prized Premier Padmini or Ambassador (shudder... people actually waited 2-3 years to buy those vehicles!). If you're buying a Maruti these days that's another story, but parting with lakhs of rupees and that too on loan for a commodity? What's wrong with you people? And you don't even keep the car around for a decade like they used to. Now the relationship in a majority of cases does not last more than 3 years. Or this is actually a marriage and like we have a religious ceremony binding bride and groom; the pooja, coconut breaking and garlanding areall part of a matrimonial service. Then 3 years later, divorce! After all the money lavished and the time spent together, things start unraveling. Get rid of the wife, err, sorry car! Hmmm...sounds right!

It's time to drop this whole superstition/religious belief thingy. I've seen people pointing out how a car in an accident did not have a lemon and chillies to ward off the evil eye, hanging from the front bumper! Explains the pickle the drivers in! Make sure you're insured, don't drive like a numbskull and service your car regularly. That's more than all you would ever need to ensure everything stays in good health.

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