There has been overwhelming “Yes” response to my question on my post Soliloquies. And so, here I go with the first instalment. That photograph will yield some more posts, I assure you.
Let me start at the furthest away object in that photograph. The Ford V8. In Madras and Bombay of those days, which subsequently became Chennai and Mumbai, this model was a popular version for the upwardly mobile and the wealthy. There are still a few with collectors of Vintage automobiles and they are usually from the palaces of royalty who went broke or those specimens that escaped becoming taxi cabs with diesel engines replacing the petrol ones.
My late father was an avid car enthusiast and would keep changing his vehicles depending on what came on sale in the market whenever he had some spare cash. His very first car was a Morris 8, which he had bought from an Englishman departing Bombay to join up with the British armed forces. He claimed that he bought that car to bring me home from the nursing home when I was 5 days old! Throughout his life, he kept changing cars and I have seen, Fords, Hillmans, Fiats, Chryslers, Buicks, DeSotos, Morris Minors, Citroens, a Sunbeam Talbot and even an Opel. Along the way, the Morris Minor was used by him to teach his eldest and second eldest sons how to drive.
If you go to the linked page for the Citroen, you will see the three mosquitoes that started off this sequence of posts.
The last vehicle he ever owned was an Indian made Premier Padmini which he drove to the airport at Coimbatore to hand over to the buyer who paid the balance cash to him at the airport. He completed the other formalities there and boarded a flight to Pune to spend his last days with me. He was 91. He never drove again though he kept threatening to every now and then while he was in Pune.
So for 66 out of the 95 years of his life, he always had a vehicle of his own, even when he was in the village farming after his retirement in 1975, where for a short while, he used a Bajaj Chetak Scooter after he had disposed off his Buick for which he could not get spare parts close by. Among the papers that I set fire to after his demise, was his current and valid driving licence which he had first obtained in Madras in 1937!
He was known for his flamboyant lifestyle and also envied for his taste in automobiles. Even now people who knew him during his heydays will comment on his cars. He was envied for some other quirks as well, about which I may write in some future post. Suffice it to say, that none of his children have come anywhere near owning as many vehicles as he did in his lifetime nor live as flamboyant a life as he did.