A streetcar that brought happiness

In 1973, my wife and I decided to buy a small second-hand car. This decision was taken primarily to facilitate our family to travel in one group whenever we went out. Within a week, I had two offers from my friends— a Baby Fiat, usually called Buck Fiat, with 5 horsepower and a two-door-two-seater vehicle; the other offer was that of a Morris Minor — tourer top and a two-door-four-seater. The latter was offered at Rs. 5000 and I accepted it.

The car was delivered at my quarters the same day. We spent hours admiring the car!

The problem was that I did not know how to drive. The next day in the forenoon a temporary learner’s licence was given to me by my well-wishers. My friend and colleague offered to teach me driving.

At about 10 am, he drove me to a deserted road, got down from the car and said, “now you drive down the road. I shall watch from here and give you the tips later after you return.” I was not sure that I would return! When the car entered a deep ditch by the road, I applied the brakes and the car miraculously stopped before I slid into the plothole.

My friend congratulated, saying that I was a discerning driver as I knew when tostop or apply the brakes. From the next day, I started driving the car! In the fourteen years of my driving, I did not cause any accidents.

I used the car regularly for commuting to work and soon enough we used it to go out on short picnics. I had a group of friends — mostly colleagues and friendly neighbours with whom we used to go out on motorcycles and drive out of the city. We would sit down to play, eat and sing and then ride back homewards by about 4 pm. Often we would be in groups of three or four families with their children.

With the car, now, it was easier to carry the children and their playthings! We had travelled along state highways, chosen spots with shade, water stream and clean surroundings by the side of the highway.

Often the decision to go out was taken by one family, one of the ‘regulars’, and the group would be ready to go within half an hour! This sort of close-knit group is very difficult to come across. 

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