Long due and well deserved is what a servicing means to our 10 year old Maruti 800. The appealingly named 'moonbeam silver' colour of its body has suffered too much from the vagaries of the weather and now should more appropriately be called 'just about silver'. My Dad is a very safe driver, as safe as anyone can be, considering that even the safest driver has no control over some other madman driving on the road who might just crash into your safe driver tag and ruin it for good but even he couldn't prevent the minor dents and scratches which have appeared all over the car during its decade of existence on Indian roads. The left rear door has a gluey door lock and the the left rear door inner handle is half chewed thanks to my dog's itchy gum teeth developing phase when she was carted around to wherever my parents went. And the final fact being that my Dad is not a very big fan of company approved service stations and so our car had seen very little of the inside of the huge Maruti service station only a few kilometres from our house in Bharuch.
But carting the three of us (Mom, Dad and me) and a dog through 2300 kilometres on a east-west sojourn across India without a single major problem (only a minor coolant issue near Mehkar, MH which was resolved in a jiffy by a local mechanic) was good enough to finally earn it its equivalent of a luxury bath and even Dad couldn't protest too strongly about it. So it got the royal treatment with a carburettor overhaul, engine oil change, complete vacuuming of all the dust collected from across India and a long session in one of those wonderfully effective car showers of repair garages out of which every car no matter how old & beaten up comes bright and shiny. I was there when one of the mechanics was finishing the spruce up and I swear that if the car had a face, it would've smiled!
Smiled not just because it was fresh and clean again, but also because of the central role played by it in many a family adventure the highlights of which would have been the Bharuch to Mussoorie and back drive in 2005 and the Bharuch-Calcutta mega road trip less than a month ago apart from numerous trips to Bombay, Pune, Baroda and Surat. What after all had it not seen? The steep roads and the striking beauty of the Himalayas; the lush forested ghats with "Go slow, elephant crossing" road signs of Orissa; the flickering green fields over endless expanses all across rural India as the sun played hide and seek with some feeble monsoon clouds; the tumble and tussle of Bombay traffic and the divine glimpse of Marine Drive bordered by the Arabian Sea at 2:00 AM in the morning as it both cursed and praised the endless energy of the Maximum City; the divine stretches of roads between Udaipur to Ahmedabad, and Mumbai to Pune as India began to prove that we can make roads as good as any other nation in the world - just a random sampling of all the paths that it has merrily wandered on. Our car like the members of our family has the footloose soul of a travelling gypsy. Given a chance, it could compose one or two original songs for the road!