I can summarize this article for you right away in two questions even before you begin to read –
Who gives a f*ck if you want to realize your dream of buying a car with your own money when you grow up? No one.
Who gives a f*ck when you stop paying your EMIs for that car? No one yet everyone.
If you want to know how life elaborated on the second question’s answer for me, then, read on.
Cars are always aspirational for the middle-class (they don’t spend heaps on advertising and brainwashing you just like that!) – the class I come from. I keep using “middle-class” term despite having no belief in it but hey, humanity has compartmentalized itself so creatively and cunningly that it might as well be used to simplify understanding for my audience.
Middle class celebrates arrival of a new car like it is a commencement of a new phase of life, like a new family member has arrived, like a much-awaited achievement even if it means the ownership of the drive is dependent on the timely EMI payment. Nothing matters in the moment when a new car arrives, does it?!
And, when you dream of buying a new car from your own money as early as in your second job, that too on EMIs, you have no idea what deep shit you’re getting into. Yes, I sat on a pile of it for five years before the car got completely mine and by then, I had used it 50% and was only going to enjoy its last five years while dealing with its wear and tear. So, consider that less than 50%.
But. On that note, am talking like any other materialistic person who’d rather focus on “kitna deti hai” (mileage) than how is this piece of engineering going to impact my life.
My first car was actualization of a comeback-promise I made to myself from the hospital bed during my recovery from Pancreatitis. It gave me more than 100%. It gave me more than I could experience the materialistic pleasure if I had one in my childhood and never had to earn it. The lessons I learnt from my first car were worth more than the value for money I could derive from it if I didn’t go for it so early in my professional life.
For me, it wasn’t about the car. It was about the dream.
I wanted it for the exact reason that I didn’t experience it in my childhood and for my parents, it was a big deal.
I joined driving school a month before I got the car and can discreetly recall how my driving teacher used to tell me that I almost know how to drive even when it was the first time I was driving any car. And, I remember replying to him, “It’s because I have driven already in my thoughts so much.”
My car taught me those things that humans will either won’t share for their own benefit or can’t tell you because they still haven’t evolved to that kind of depth.
You Are Your Dream First, Don’t Forget!
This one’s simple yet complicated. Often, we get so immersed in achieving our dreams that we forget to take moments out of it to sit back and watch our personalities grow and whether they are growing in the right direction.
I wouldn’t say the dream of buying a car with my own money had hypnotized me but I certainly was storming in only one direction. Now, that is good and bad. It is good because you are focussed and bad, because your focussed on only one thing and cannot see anything else beyond even if it may not be the right thing for you.
When I wanted to buy a car, I was thinking about it more than it deserved my attention. But, that understanding, kind of wisdom only comes once you have crossed those roads of impulse and impatience. If you ask me today, did the purchase require me to move all life resources towards it? No.
Whether small or big, we tend to let dreams become our life and that’s when the weeds begin to germinate. It isn’t sensible to live a stressful reality today to achieve that which will be reality in future. A continuous watch is a must on directions taken for the dreams and what they will ultimately mean and lead to.
Sanctity Of Your Dream Belongs In Money
Money can buy you dreams – it is true in case of materialistic pleasures. But, materialistic dreams demand maintenance that requires continuous flow of money. No money, no dream.
I had bought the car on loan when my salary was just INR 23,000 gross. I was ready to bear the burden of EMIs that early in my life. If you ask me today, “Will I want to change that decision?” The answer might be a ‘Yes’. But, for the lessons it taught me, the answer will always tilt towards a ‘No’. I put myself under pressure to deliver for an external reason at an age I could explore to take more risks if I didn’t have agreed for an auto-debit from my bank (not that I didn’t take risks anyway : )).
There were times when expressions on my parents’ faces changed with the change in my bank balance. And those are the times the idea of your dream is thrown out of the window. Then, it’s all about money, honey! Equations change.
‘Dream’ can have individualistic definitions but it, largely, has a purist meaning. Ask yourself if your want really deserves the title of a ‘dream’ when its entire existence is going to be dependent on money?
Of Car & Life – The Driver
What I’m about to share can only be felt by those who drive and feel deeply at the same time. The feeling to be on the driver’s seat, to take control and manoeuvre the directions is similar to the feeling of taking charge of your life.
I remember when I used to drive and speak to my brother, he often mentioned of the shift in my voice tone that usually was absent when I didn’t drive and speak. He explained that feeling to me as representation of sudden authority and take-on-world feel.
And, I couldn’t have agreed more. Car brings ownership, literally and mentally. It teaches you (if you want to learn from it, that is) responsibility and awareness.
Driving a car is synonymous to driving life. There are warning signs by the universe in the form of intuitions just like traffic signals & street lights. While driving, one has to be on the guards because if you let lose, accidents are bound to happen. It is similar to those days when we tend to let our emotional side take over in day-to-day lives, fall prey to negativity and as a result, we take days, sometimes weeks, to recover from, what could be termed as ‘mental accidents’.
Cars and lives are way too similar. Co-passenger questioning your route is same as the world pointing out your way of living. Both are presumptuous, don’t know what’s on your mind and how you are going to reach the destination.
Driving people in your car is similar to having people with you on the journey of life. You feel responsible for them and want to give the co-passengers of life the best experience to your ‘driving’ ability.
Gear Up! Life Is Not An Automatic Car
I had bought a black Chevrolet Spark, a hatchback with manual gears. Actually, I have never driven an automatic one till date but I know the top differentiator between a manual car and an automatic one is the gear control.
We had no role to play where and when we were born and that’s one big proof of how our lives are on auto-pilot. However, as humans, we are ‘geared’ up. We are the only species that is anointed with the power of mind, decisions to make a difference to our own selves, other species by our way of living, behaviour, choices and vision. These collectively can be called as our ‘gear box’.
Now, the judgement to choose these ‘gears’, when and how in our lives, is what primarily going to determine the ease with which we will sail through the difficulties and help our fellow human beings, humanity at large as well.
Co-Passengers Change, Car Doesn’t
Sometimes, people we meet in our lives are like those co-passengers who have hopped on to your car only till a certain destination and vacated the seat for others to join in on the way.
This one’s simple, I believe – people come and go, people stay and leave. Just like the way your car doesn’t change with the change in the variety of co-passengers, we shouldn’t let our lives, emotions, feelings, characters change because of certain people who were not meant to be and came only to check our ability to ‘drive’ our lives and intelligence to handle them on the highway of tough times.
Nobody knows your car better than you and they aren’t going to help you repair it too. Your life is going to be yours and yours alone – people walk in and out of it throughout but except your loved ones, no one will ever know or want to know the price you’ve paid to ‘repair’ it.
The U-Turn Of Life
When you’re driving in dark, the only thing you are left to trust is your ability to drive and next few feet that the headlights strike into. Sometimes, we also tend to follow the car in front, its decisions, movements, bumps, slow-downs as this is the best one can do instead of taking a u-turn and end up wasting the effort put in so far.
Take this in context with life. Darkness in life refers to the bad phases, negative emotions, deteriorated mental health and downfall of any sort. Do we not put up a fight-back after having come far in life? For those who make an effort to believe and observe, life does throw up its own u-turn – it’s the universe-turn and you shouldn’t ideally force yourself to be in a position to not take it unlike on roads.
Driving life in darkness means trusting and following the universe to give you directions to your destination. Nobody, who has walked earth, has ever had it any other way.
With or without a car, let nothing change
Self-bought car is a life-changing experience for a child who has never heard of his/her household discussing a car purchase, let alone buying one. One such household was mine. The urge to own a materialistic commodity is always intense when it has eluded you and more so when you’ve seen others indulging in it.
My car changed the way I felt and took on life. It was like my partner in crime sorts. I hadn’t felt this way before buying my car because coming from that kind of background, it wasn’t easy to go for one, earn it and hit the impulse to buy it as early as in the second year of employment. I took pride in it as it was my first dream that had come true. The monthly installments choked me sometimes, especially during my plunge to become independent professional. The parking woes were unbearable, at times, because I kept it in a paid parking for almost 9 years to avoid altercations with people and peace of mind has always been a priority.
Whatever it was, at the end of the day, it made me extremely proud. I loved and lived it. It was my first-car-dream-come-true moment that I lived for 10 years. And, then the day came when I had to end my dream. I had to give it away in May 2019 because it became uneasy to source components. My father, being home-bound due to his illness, had stopped riding it since a couple of years and just few days before its sale, we had taken dad to the hospital – three of us sat in it for the one last time, together.
But, you know, seldom we try to understand that life prepares us for everything that is good for us or the better things that we don’t know of.
The second half of 2019 saw the massive tweaks in Motor Vehicle Act when the fines, hike in parking rates and other major changes came into existence. I almost touched the level of drawing sadistic pleasure out of that news. People showed up lining up outside petrol pumps, repair shops, fetching new insurance, updating their vehicles as per the laws and what not. I couldn’t believe I had saved myself from absolute wastage of money and time. If I had chosen to give my car any later, I would have ended up with almost no value for my 10-year old car at a time when market was hit by this unexpected blow. The demand for cars was already facing the heat in India in the beginning of the year and it plummeted drastically after the new Act was announced.
Now, the spiritual side of it.
I had made a promise to myself when I bought my car that I won’t travel in a bus again. The promise stemmed not just from materialism but also from my will power.
By the time “life had prepared me” to be carless, I had already learnt to part ways with my once-a-stubborn image of being a car owner and was back to public mode of transport especially because of the comfort of the metro. Even when I had my car, I preferred metro for multiple reasons that saved my time, energy and mental space that was usually at the mercy of traffic and parking.
And, yes, now I travel by bus too. I travel by whatever I can to fulfill my commitment to reach the destination on time and that’s all that matters. This no-strings-attached feeling is inexplicable. There is freedom in knowing your worth without allowing those eyes gauge you, the ones that get blinded by the gleam of a glorified mean machine.
You won’t find schools and people in general talking about the benefits that come at a deeper level when one may not own a car – it is just not there in the system. Human race is so smart to throw up commercialization right in our face to make us believe that buying a car is worthy of a dream. It won’t tell you the real thing, to save your ass by not falling into the trap of EMIs, to steer clear of larger-than-life narratives around cars because it isn’t beneficial for it. Their care is limited to judging you for not owning a car. They care a damn if you sell your soul off to pay the price of owing a one. And, I mean that in its literal sense.
I will lie if I say I don’t want to own a car. Of course, I do. But, it has taken a decade for me to understand that I want to own a car and let it not own me. By that I mean, I want to take it easy. There’s no rush. Showing off a gadget at the cost of my peace and stable growth is not my thing anymore.
Things can wait, peace cannot. Materialism can wait, experiences cannot. Car can wait, driving my life my way cannot.