"Who names their car?" was the first thought that crossed my mind when I bought my first car. The giggly undergrad kid who was selling it told me that she called the car "Candy", and asked if I would, too. Cool by me, i thought. i'll keep the name.
For my first car, she was quite the dream car. Smooth, sleek, grey in colour and a recent model, she looked nice and ran well. The only thing I really wanted in a car was a sunroof- and I spent six months trying to find one, that also satisfied all other more significant aspects of a car. I was paying a hefty insurance in her name too, being a new driver and having such a nice car. Now i maintained a strictly working relationship with "Candy". She was "car" to me, not candy, dandy. She took me wherever I wanted to go. In return, I fed her oil, water, and got her checked up regularly and took good care of her. She was high-maintenance, but I knew what I was getting into. She served me well, and was mostly well-behaved, especially the first time I drove long distance for 12 hours by myself.
Last year, around now, I remember her lifeless body being hauled into a truck and taken away, while everyone watched. The huge tow-truck was in the way of the bus behind it, so there was a big audience. I couldn't even grieve in any privacy. The truth is, my mind was already preoccupied with other woes. Like the big loan I will be paying off for the next few years- for a dead car. Apparently she suffered an oil-leak, there were no warning signs, until the day she spluttered and stopped on the way home, at midnight, and I'd to have her towed. Various theories were being thrown in my face about how the guy who changed oil the last time didn't screw something back properly, etc. At that point, I was not in a mood for conspiracy theory. It was not helping.
For the next 6-8 months, I was living the car-less life again. It's stifling, especially in a car-dependent town like mine, and more so when one has enjoyed the luxury of a car. I was lucky to have some really good friends who'd lend me their car if I needed, or give me rides, but it was not the same. I took to biking a lot more and that was the only good thing to come out of it. When winter came, that wasn't fun anymore. Working late became difficult, socializing became a pain because I'd to always ask for rides. Then I met someone else- an old, doddering stick-shift. Her make-up had faded away, and her joints creaked loudly as she moved. No sliding sun-roof, not even a CD player! She is a no-frills, set of 5 wheels. But this time round, I learnt what it is like to develop a relationship with one's car. I took to her soon, and named her Basanti. Basanti is a simple, low-maintenance car. We bonded quickly, probably because she came into my life when I really needed her, and didn't put a huge dent in my purse either. While the late Candy is still demanding a little payment every month, Basanti doesn't ask for much. Just that I listen to her when she's talking, especially if she's in pain. I learnt from my first relationship how important this is, too, although Candy never really complained, until she conked off! But Basanti is an old car. She doesn't have any fancy electronic alarms that tell me when the oil or water is low. So I have to check on her, in addition to the routine maintenance I carry out. She talks a lot more too, so my ears have become trained to her noises. I try and show her how much I value her, and hope she doesn't die on me now, I don't think I'll be able to take it this time.