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DECCAN HERALD Friday, October 23, 1998

Auto-demise of a dream


PAY revision and arrears enriched me by Rs.20,000, a substantial amount by my meagre standards. My childhood aspiration and longing to own a car, seemed close to realisation.

With the bulge of Rs.20,000 in my pocket, I headed towards a second hand wheeler dealer, car broker. Surveying me with caution, the car dealer made an assessment in one minute: I wore no exotic denims and my feet were not encased in footwear of foreign brands in short, the dealer saw in me an authentic lower middle class man.

Without batting an eyelid the car broker commended to me, a run down 1971 model which had large blotches of primer on it. I took consolation by assuring myself that with minor repairs and touch-ups the car would be in proper shape again.

After ten minutes of haggling, I bought the car for Rs.12,000. Three-fifths of the bulge in my pocket gone, I pacified myself with the thought that at least I had a tangible artifact on four wheels with me for the money I had parted with.

Changing the car documents to my name cost me another Rs.2,500 and half a tank of fuel eroded my pocket by another Rs.450. Balance un the pocket, a mere Rs.5,000.

When I joined the stream of traffic, I realised that the car needed immediate attention at the garage. The steering was pulling to the left and there was a loud rattling at the rear.

What began as minor repairs concluded as major patch-up work and all that was left in my pocket was a hole plus an IOU slip for Rs.2,000 for the garage owner. But, I assured myself again, I had a proper car to my credit and I was on the fast lane again.

Just when I was about to take a turn to the left, a traffic policeman waved to me to halt. ''Your papers please,`` he said. Promptly I handed over the car documents and my driving licence.

After verification, the policeman looked back at me pointedly and said, ''Where is the fitness permit from the RTO? This car is more than ten years old.``

My troubles had just begun, I paid a fine of Rs.200, too glad to get away from the Cop, the priority thought on my mind was I had to get rid of the car, I had to find a buyer for the jalopy. I beat a path back to the broker from whom I had bought the car.

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