If you have to ask you'll never know ! [L.Armstrong]... thats Louis not Lance.

Jul 22, 2008

The Ambassador for Peace and Goodwill.

A car is a car is a car ? Not true. A car would be either a fiat or an ambassador. Power steering . Yes. He was called Darjee the Driver. Tinted glasses ? Yes. There were little curtains strung on wires across the windows. Air conditioning ? Of course. There was a fan mounted on the dashboard. In the summer you put a khus mat on the roof. And you kept it damp. This kept the heat of summer away from the car. Bucket seats ? Only when you were on your way to the beach and the littlest sat on an upturned beach bucket between the seats. A luggage rack on the roof was a given. For suitcases . For trips out of town. For a seating platform when a little elevation was required. Like when we needed to look over the airport wall at the first ever Jumbo Jet. Or for ringside seats at the Supari Talao football game. Floor shift gears ? No way. It would get in the way of four people sitting on the front seat.
For a trip out of town a waterholding canvas bag was required. It would be strung up in front of the radiator. And halfway up the ghats on the way to Poona or Goa or Nasik, the temperature indicator would be hovering in the red zone. You stopped. You opened the bonnet.You waited for the radiator to stop its gurgling. Then with a duster in hand you took the radiator cap off. Stepping back as far and as quickly as you did when you almost ran into the principal outside the New Talkies matinee in the middle of a school day. Old Faithful had nothing on the geyser the radiator shot up. You then took the canvas bag and emptied the contents into the radiator. With the engine running. Otherwise the cold water on the hot engine would split the gasket. And everyone would be rounded up quickly including the visitors from the local Sulabh Sauchalay [ Ok Ok behind the Banyan tree. ]
before the now green temperature gauge started seeing red again.
For funerals the hoi polloi crammed into the bus if the burial was beyond walking distance from the house. The car would be commissioned for the newly commissioned widow and family because grief does’nt let you walk. For VIP visitors [ Parish priests and Mothers-in-laws ] the car would be trundled out for the short ride home. For occasional trips to the wholesale market in Dadar this chariot of the gods would be reduced to a delivery van.
Over all of this would watch a benevolent St. Christopher. The patron saint of travelers. From his magnetically held perch on the glove compartment. And over him would tower Mother Mary. Stuck to the dashboard . Araldited, so that she could watch over this car forever.

8 comments:

patrice said...

a most hilarious account of cars of old. How old are You? you know so much about the cars (and traveling) in THOSE days. I agree and have experienced exactly what you have written...we had a Landmaster which was the father of the Ambassador...and we used to be eight of us (including baby in a makeshift bed and 'ayah') travelling the length of India from Jullunder to Bombay and from Bangalore to Bombay!
plf17@rediffmail.com

Anonymous said...

In Bombay, Ambassadors are now a rarity. I went to Kerala recently and it was so good to see so many of them on the road. These cars are legendary!

magiceye said...

beautiful tribute to the grand old lady!
remember travelling in it all the way to mangalore from bombay (40years back) - and yes, 8 of us, all comfortable!

Smiling Dolphin said...

brilliant post, clem, so well crafted, dad had a landmaster that did all these things before his ambi did - and we had the dogs!!! this post reminded me of the journey pixie and i took with you in your sumo to goa for the inauguration.........

Anonymous said...

Hey Clem.. bet you heard about our trip in the good old 'consul' ona the winding ghats... you forgot the 'potties' for emergency use in bright red roped just above the door for emergency access!!! you are brilliant!!!!
Hy

Anonymous said...

awesome blog.. =)

Santaji said...

Someone should do a Kustom ambassador, with glossy black paint, slight roof-chop, and whitewall tires, it would look cool,
Ambassadors look a bit like shoebox fords('49 - '51)

David said...

Hey there Clement what is this today is the Bandra Feast and you have not even attempted to update your blog. Please do write about the Bandra Fair good topic to write on. Come on now do it for the Bandraites....La Noel