Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Silver (and red and blue) Lining

'Expect the unexpected' is always good advice to give anyone before they travel to Bombay. The city never ceases to amaze you more day by day. I was travelling in a friend's car a few days ago, and we were trying to negotiate our way through the inevitable Bombay traffic on an irritably humid afternoon. Bombay's motorists are not renown for their patience, and that day, it seemed even the elements were spoiling for a fight. As is the custom during long traffic jams, the air was filled with the exquisite cries of cars, buses, rickshaws and motorbikes as if it was mating season in the Serengeti. Frustrated taxi drivers swore loudly, cursing the mothers of anyone unfortunate enough to be within hearing distance while pedestrians and beggars zig-zagged amidst the chaos. 

As we lurched forward inch by inch, constantly shifting between first gear and neutral, the sky began to darken. True to their nature, the Bombay rains had decided to show up unannounced. However, a far greater development was about to astonish me. A large SUV that we had been kissing bumpers with for the last few miles somehow managed to switch lanes, revealing a towing van (otherwise known as the arch nemesis of the parking-challenged) with Herbie on it! YES, THE CAR.

Unfortunately, all I had was a cellphone camera, which I nevertheless used to capture the extremely rare sighting to the best of my ability: 

Alright, who let Lindsay Lohan drive again?
While it was obviously an identical copy and not the car used in the movies, it was still quite a spectacle. After all, one hardly expects to see Herbie on the streets of Bombay, let alone on the back of a towing van (for heaven knows what reason). While it was highly unlikely that the car had been parked illegally, it was probably on its way to an exhibition. Still, the very sight took me by surprise and in that moment, I had forgotten all about the traffic surrounding us. As I stared, I was overcome with thoughts of fascination. Why should such a delightful car be reduced to ride pillion on a rickety old van when it should be on the road?  How marvellous it would be to go buzzing down a country road in the little motor car, with the morning sun glinting off the glossy white paint. Perhaps with a dog riding shotgun, sticking his tongue out of the window, almost nearly as excited as me. Ah, I crooned, how splendid it would be indeed. 

Then our car hit a pothole (possibly one of Bombay's finest) due to which I was violently jerked out of my reverie and thrown back into reality. It was then that I realized that it was probably for the better for the poor car to be transported on a towing van. The streets of Bombay are no place for such a delicate piece of engineering. So while my dreams of riding down an English countryside had been cruelly shattered, I took solace in the fact that the car was atleast spending its days in regal comfort. However, my comfort was short lived. A few minutes later, the van took a left turn at an intersection and just like the rains, Herbie was gone...


  1. Haha very cool story! I really enjoy immersing myself in your descriptions of your city.

  2. Thanks Aron! You honestly never know what you're going to find in this city!