My Maruti Suzuki 800 and I

Feb 23 2014, 12:17 IST
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It might not have been a flashy car but for some it was like a Ferrari, a fast car that would take them places, and continues to remind them of a simpler time. It might not have been a flashy car but for some it was like a Ferrari, a fast car that would take them places, and continues to remind them of a simpler time.
SummaryIt might not have been a flashy car but for some it was like a Ferrari, a fast car that would take them places, and continues to remind them of a simpler time.

It might not have been a flashy car but for some it was like a Ferrari, a fast car that would take them places, and continues to remind them of a simpler time.

‘It represents a time when you didn’t covet the car next to you’

Jehan Manekshaw, 35, theatreperson

I learnt to drive on the Maruti 800. I was barely 13 when my mum started to teach me. I feel like I am one with the car when I drive it. When you are used to driving a particular car for so long, you don’t think when you are driving, it just feels natural.

My 800 was bought in 1996 by my parents and has crossed the 100,000 km mark twice over. When my mum gifted my dad a new car about six years ago, they decided to leave me the old Maruti 800. Instead of using a mover, we decided to make a road trip of it, from Delhi to Mumbai. We drove six hours a day, three hours each and made a bunch of stops on the way. The journey was beautiful and the car did not trouble us at all.

To me the 800 is like a household item, like the Prestige cooker or Rasna. There are always going to be so many memories attached to it. But I feel it represents an India before capitalism. A time when you didn’t look outside your window and covet the vehicle next to you. A car then was about getting you from one place to another, not about which model or brand you bought.

As told to Kevin Lobo

‘To be a better driver was to become cooler’

Sidharth Srinivasan, 38, filmmaker

Small is beautiful and my ridiculously-green Maruti 800 was just that! The Maruti Suzuki epitomised all that was cool, zippy and elegant in licence-permit-raj India at the time, even though the winds of change and liberalisation were blowing over the nation. And yet, for all it’s “flimsiness”, the Maruti trundled me and a bunch of unruly batchmates once a week from 1994 to 1997 from our respective homes to St Stephen’s College, Delhi, and back, in a car pool.

Getting the car for the day, week after week, year after year, was no mean feat as it involved arguments with the folks, who were concerned about the distance from south Delhi to north campus. It also involved my raging hormones, and smacked of elitism that was

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