I cant believe my ears. Poor How can someone who says he used to go to the Far East and Nepal to enjoy driving rented Yamahas and Suzukis during his college holidays, who now heads a company with an annual turnover of more than Rs 10 crore qualify himself as poor But that issue is besides the point. Back to his biking adventures.
Oh yes, I have been a bike enthusiast, Mr Singh admits. In my school days, I had a Yezdi, and when I was at college, I had a black Enfield. It was fun because I had modified it (the Enfield) to make it look like a Harley. Mr Singh chuckles as he remembers his Hansraj College days. Those were the good old days, he says nostalgically. With the passage of time, it was inevitable that Mr Singh graduate to four wheels. My first car was a Ford, which I bought for 115 while I was doing my higher studies in London, he says. It lasted me three winters, though it had so many dents. It was old, but had a beautiful engine. After I sold that, I bought a white hatchback Renault.
When I came back to India, my father presented me a Maruti car, the old model, he says, adding that during those days, a Maruti was the ultimate dream car for an Indian. After that, Mr Singh has owned a Maruti Esteem, an Opel Astra and a Mitsubishi Lancer. Although I never had any kind of emotional attachment with any specific car, I had a special feeling for the Lancer because of the number, Mr Singh says. I cant exactly remember the full number, but it had 0010 as the ending figures. Sadly for him, the car was stolen. Mr Singh explains sadly, It was stolen from right in front of my gate and I never got it back.
Otherwise, I have never had any major accidents as I am a very careful driver, he asserts. This is despite the fact that he averages about 100 km a day, travelling for site inspections in Delhi alone.
Mr Singh says he loves going on long drives. I often used to go to Punjab and other hill stations by car. If it wasnt for my concern for the environment and my own pocket, I would still be doing that, he smiles.
Shouldnt someone who is concerned about the environment be leading by example But wheres the choice he shoots back in his typical indomitable style. Yet, we are seriously looking at the electric car, Reva, as an option for a family utility, he says. But lets face it that for long drives, we dont have any option so far.
A stickler for keeping to the basics, Mr Singh says he prefers his cars interiors to be the way the company made them. In any case, in a Mondeo, you dont need much to deck it up, he says, adding that a good music system is a must though. Thats not surprising, considering that music played a big part in his memorable long drives. When he talks about long drives, Mr Singh tells me about a journey he undertook in Scotland in 1997 in a sports utility vehicle (he cant remember which one though!), which is etched in his memory. On Indian soil, I remember all those trips I made to Kashmir. The scenic beauty of the place is something that you cannot forget easily, Mr Singh says.