Friday, July 18, 2008

Walk me home

Let me paint a scene, Man excited , almost whistling the Indiana Jones Theme song . Woman, staring at her watch, having a bunch of papers in her hand and wishing she had brought her IPod along

What do you think is happening?........

That was K and me car shopping through the last two weekends. Being in the US for two and half years, I have been through the harrowing (yes, harrowing to people who really don’t care the difference in transmission between Camry LE and XLE!!) two times.

The car shopping ritual is one as old as day Ford decided to try out an engine driven car in the 1800’s. I actually compare the ritual of car shopping to a major case study worth its salt in any MBA classroom. First there is a mad collection of data from numerous site from to , then a intensive study on the cars shortlisted, a group discussion with pals on their car performance and then of course a survey. If you know a friend of a long lost friend who bought a similar vehicle their number materializes out of thin air for a long call on a weekend. Did I mention that I as a wife have limited say in this matter, other than the color and if the car looks decent.

If the gods actually smile upon us, after all these discussions we arrive at one or two options and land up in the bustling Car dealership. Suddenly out of nowhere is a blue/green shirted (depending on Toyota or Honda) salesman, who proceeds to tell you that the car chosen is so good, it might just end world hunger. As he leads you through the glittering cars ( of course we have to do this at high noon , everything looks bright and pretty ), my eyes catch some other wives who are trying to intently staring at their cell phones while their husbands are salivating over the new sports models. They look at me with a sympathetic smile, as they know that I would be in the same place in another two hours. So as the salesman leads us into the car for a test drive, he has by now our whole life history. These guys can work for the IRS. Talking about how expensive the gas prices are, he leads K directly into “You know back in 2000, when I first arrived” saga. The car that he shows is definitely the costliest one with all the upgrades. Leather seats, navigation system, sun and moon roof. By the end of the drive, you get to believing that without the moon roof, there is no way in your life your ever going to see stars. The drive itself is quite painful, as the salesman guides K through the safest routes, he keeps up a conversation with me, “The wife” on Indian food. I mean I know I look well fed but I never thought I looked like a chef in an Indian restaurant

When we return, the sales guy acts as if a light bulb has gone off in his head. I’m pretty sure the light bulb has been firmly in place, since his quarter targets came in. As we exit the car, he looks us over and says “ if you don’t have kids right now, you can have a better option”. And then “Tadaaa – it’s the sports model”.
I feel K’s pulse get higher, on seeing the smooth lines , the V6 engine and the Indiana Jones theme starts humming all around us. This happened the first time we car shopped, we bought a sports edition. Sadly, that was totaled in a road accident and so we were back on a July afternoon. I know I’m doomed till I look up and see another couple making their unknowing way into the car lot. As the salesman moves away for another case history, I take refuge in an old Indian saying “This car is bad luck” to get K out of his trance. Like every guy and gal knows, there is no arguing with that logic ! :D . Something christened as bad luck can never be updated to lucky again. So as K longingly says good bye to the sports model, we walk towards the 2008 older version cars, whose miles per gallon is so bad, my monthly salary would be just sufficient to fill the gas tank. As the salesman sees us in that 2008 lot his smile becomes a lot wider. These are the cars; they are desperately trying to get rid off. As he extols their virtues, he comes to the major selling point, they are selling them for $5K below MSRP at 0%. “That’s practically free!!” , he says. Yes sure, if you consider $18,000 dollars free.

Few more cars later K and sales guy furiously typing out numbers on the calculators. Another light bulb goes off, the salesman offers us Pre-owned cars. Four hours into discussion, I feel my mild headache go into overdrive. As I give K my Meenakumari, “I’m dying” gaze, he picks up another bunch of papers, brochures and websites and tells the salesman we will be back the next weekend. Though the sales guy tells us that any offer expires the moment we leave the building, we take our chances.

As K wraps his mind around the leasing options, I look out on the sea of cars and memories came flooding back . My dad bought his first car, when I was born . From the Ambassador to the Maruthi, dad didn’t have much choice, but he opted simply for the most economical option. Somehow though his license plates always added to the number 3. So when the car came home , I ran out only to see the plates ,added the number , and screeched in surprise when it did add to 3 . Even now, my dad has his trusted 1994 Maruthi. He sees it as an essential help for daily life and as per my mother , his first wife :D !. “A car looked after well, will treat you well” is his motto. Now however, as the options have increased, so has the complexity of buying a car or any other vehicle. Back home, its was easy as walking in , putting in your order and getting your car a few weeks later.

With the environmental crunch we are facing, what’s scary is the number of cars on the road. Each type of car has a separate use. The Van for Kids and car pooling, the sedan for city driving, the Jeep for adventure and hiking. What happened to one car to suite all needs. Also the US government is considering restricting the speed limit on Highway driving to 55 mph to reduce the consumption of gas. But its sad, because people have so used to speed of 70 mph that its going to hard to get them back to lower speed limit.

People say that life gets complicated. But after these experiences, I think we complicate simple stuff. We want everything wrapped into a perfect package – costs, looks and of course efficiency. Sometimes, its just easier to accept things as they are - four tires, transmission ,engine and seats, not the answer to your dreams. So I think for me, I’m going to start walking more and you really can’t criticize the vehicle that’s moving your feet around :D !

Btw, if you pass a car dealership and see a woman despondently staring at her IPod, wave or smile, it just might be me!

For the joke
The Microsoft Car
At a recent computer expo, Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated, "If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving twenty-five-dollar cars that get 1000 miles to the gallon."

Recently General Motors addressed this comment by responding,
"Yes, but would you want your car to crash twice a day?"
And . . .

1. Every time they repainted the lines on the road you would have to buy a new car.
2. Occasionally, your car would die on the freeway for no reason,and you would just accept this, restart, and drive on.
3. Occasionally, executing a maneuver would cause your car to fail, and you would have to re-install the engine. For some strange reason, you would accept this too.
4. You could only have one person in the car at a time, unless you bought "Car95" or "CarNT." But then you would have to buy more seats.
5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast, twice as easy to drive, but would only run on five percent of the roads.
6. The Macintosh car owners would get expensive Microsoft upgrades to their cars, which would make their cars run much slower.
7. The oil, gas and alternator warning lights would be replaced by a single "general car default" warning light.
8. New seats would force everyone to have the same size butt.
9. The airbag system would say "are you sure?" before going off.

Keep Smiling ppl



Blogger Ani said...

he he ..gud one ...

btw the who and adams were amongst my least thrilling concerts acoustically speaking ..thanks to the big bad venues .
Think I really enjoy smaller venues for concerts....that being the Elbow gig at the bimbos@sfo would rank as the best ....

6:59 PM  
Blogger Sundar Narayanan said...

this was hilarious..

knowing K, I almost pictured his smile .. did you know that I may have signed as his big brother for his first car?


man, forget the jokes. this is the funniest post I have read from you..

keep them coming!

we know what K. is getting for his next birthday from us..

a Huffy!


11:40 PM  
Blogger Lakshmi said...

Its so true that if you take care of your car, it does serve you..and every car comes with its little story..I still remember the antique which is sleeping in my dads garage and I was in college when he bought it..I didnt know the value then and it used to be so awkward to be dropped to college in that I would feel like a queen

11:24 AM  
Blogger Keshi said...

My car is my best friend. He knows how to keep me happy cos I keep him happy too ;-)


4:43 PM  
Blogger Arun PK said...

that was hilarious... n pretty interesting too... keep posting... blogrollin ya!

10:05 PM  
Blogger ani said...

gosh i was like when did i comment this post before.. hehe got the same name different gender person lol..

well the all smiles was soo good and true :)

and i can see what u mean.. oh well .. there is another weekend to go.. before u decide then.. hehe i really have no idea about cars.. guess dad would be a better person for the same..i am sure the first car is always special..

7:05 AM  
Blogger Chakra said...


> who proceeds to tell you that the car chosen is so good, it might just end world hunger.

- liked these lines a lot.. :)))

9:07 AM  
Blogger Anu said...

@ Ani: Might just check up on the gigs at SFO. Never ventured into the SFO nightlife

@Sundar: Can I put K up for adoption again.. he needs a big brother for the car sales, not a wife. And he definitely needs a huffy:D

@lakshmi :I know the feeling, the maruthi used to drop me in College, among the honda city's

@Keshi:My dad would love you :) !


@aniD:Send me a link to the other post.. i'll like to see what the other gender thinks of the process

@Chakra : :D!

11:12 AM  
Blogger CM-Chap said...

Ha Ha... Lemme knw as soon as you guys succeed in car hunt.

BTW, ur experience has made me think twice about buyg a car in US Anyways pass on the data collected :-)

I'm getting ready to notice a lady without the IPod near car sales area :-)

8:40 PM  
Blogger Solitaire said...

How funny!!! I too usually say that a car is meant to take us from place to place and that's all. Why so much fuss? But these men oooh and aahhh over details that I cannot even understand. I am sure they think the same when we go diamond shopping. :)

10:49 PM  
Blogger Scribblers Inc said...

ha ha ha...brilliant...I am really thankful that Microsoft hasnt conquered the world!!:P

Scribblers Inc.

7:04 AM  
Blogger Fantasies of a Lifetime said...

lol. . . .awesome post...I still dont understand the wierd bond between men n cars. . .I have a 3 n a half year old nephew who is already so car crazy!!

9:10 AM  
Blogger My Musings said...

That was hilarious!!! And anu the title was beautiful! walk me home! i think rather than cars, bikes, any automobile fro that matter! a walk on the side of roas! under a beautiful starlit night seems so romantic! then u think why the hell are men obessed with cars! thats a genetic make-up default!!!

Accept the carzy car with men/s weird love for those crazy things! aren't we men after all to be incurably crazy! I go with Mr. K, but still u cant afford the same crazy racy car after u become a family man!!!

9:48 AM  
Blogger Anu said...

@ CM: Dont forget to wave and best of luck with the car..

@Solitaire: Do they even accompany us on those lovely occasions..All I get is hand with a credit card when I reach the cash counter

@Scribbler : :D!

2:27 PM  
Blogger Rajesh said...

A hilarious write-up...its been while since i dropped in confused b/w u and Ani in my blog rolls...count me a regular visitor here...u too keep coming.. btw.. my blog updated...

6:03 AM  
Blogger Sruthi said...

Very cute : Nice n hilarious :-) A good read through...

10:50 PM  

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