What was then?
Parking a car or, in fact, driving a car in the city was not at all a difficult task when the first car appeared.
Car was considered as a luxurious item and was the sole property of the rich of the early 20th century. Very few could afford. The parking will be inside a bungalow compound or in a separate garage built for that. A lot of space was required as those cars were very long and wide in dimension.
Parking near an office premise or a work area was not at all a problem for space.
In those days, the cars were bought on out rate purchase as no financial company was ready to give loan, if at all, only to a very limited rich people whom the company knows.
Slowly the trend started changing. Some companies started offering cars and its running expenses for the top brasses.
Then the trend got extended to travelling executives on company work.
What is now:
The vehicles in all sizes and shapes started entering market, due to globalization. So many MNC started their plants in our country. The individual bungalows with sprawling area gave way for multistoried skyscrapers allowing more families to occupy a small area. The facility to get loans from banks and NBFC’s got multiplied. Buying a car was considered as a fundamental right and it became as easy as buying a toy. Just ring up or even a missed call to the dealers is sufficient for the sales personnel to search your address and stand in attention in front of your door at any moment of the day. Many cars and other vehicles got flooded the showrooms and were pushed to customers by luring them with free gifts and easy loans .Many started buying the car for the show of their pseudo status and after giving two or three installments, flouted. Many disappeared from the city after that even abandoning the car or create an accident so that the burden is transferred to the insurance agents to toe the car to the dealer’s workshop or clinic as they call it now.
With the arrival of two wheelers, more people opted for it as it was cheaper, when compared to cars. The space requirement became very small and parking could be done even in small lanes.Comparatavely, the quantity of petrol was also less for a longer drive. In spite of all these advantages, the large number of vehicles flooding the roads has caused a tremendous encroachment of road space and footpaths. Parking of vehicles had their own limitations as the size of the earth could not be increased as exponentially as the population. Parking spaces were allotted in buildings and the real estate agents charged for that space as well.
The tricky parking of today:
Parking has become a problem now a days. Every nook and corner is being used on the roadside without even giving space for the pedestrians to walk. The two wheelers and autos are giving the maximum difficulties and their repair centers; the cars are also not lagging in this. These nooks and corners have almost turned into loo centers and to ease out the pressure from the bladder.
When in difficulty one will try to park in front of a house and the house owner will find it very difficult to push him out. The driver will give an angry look. One will be scared to talk to him thinking that he belongs to some ruling party or the sort. Though the road outside the gate belongs to all, there is an unwritten law and ethic that it is not a parking space for others vehicles for many reasons. Why elaborate. I doubt how many of the present day drivers will be aware of the tenth and eleventh schedule of the Motor vehicles act of 1939.
Some will park coolly and disappear. To keep our car inside we have to search for the driver. It will be as irritating as we will have some urgency to take our car out. The best way to vent the anger is deflate all the four tyres as we cannot tie the tyers with crocodile locks which is the prerogative of the traffic cops.
Thank God, the underground metro project has blocked the entrance and exit of the tunnels. Otherwise?
Today a family with maximum number of cars in the building is a status symbol. Most of the cars are parked outside.
During my morning walk, I used to see a brand new car lying parked for several months covered with full of dust and bird drops near the house of a gentleman who was standing in front of his house in shorts and a T -shirt with some foreign name printed on it. I could guess that his son or daughter must be in UK or US. When asked whose car it is, shrugging his shoulders to show his foreign contact, he told that it belongs to his son and was about to tell his position and assets, and before that I slipped off from the scene. Why buy and spoil? All senseless purchase due to excess.
New concept in parking has cropped up in big star hotels. Valet parking. As soon as the owner who drives the car gets down in front of the main entrance door, hands over the key to the watchman (gate keeper), who looks like the guard in front of Westminster palace. He in turn calls a driver in waiting by phone and gives the car key to him and gives a card to the owner. The driver takes the car and parks it far away in an open place.
The other day, driving from Adayar I had been to a star hotel at Mamallapuram with my family and the same thing happened to me. The guard asked for the car key and gave it to a driver. The driver took my car and went. After the dinner we came out and I showed my card. The gatekeeper called the driver on phone. The car came after a long gap of two and half hours. When I asked why this delay, he told about a traffic jam and so the delay. I was wondering why he should take my car into a traffic jam. The driver told there was no place for parking in the space as it was full and he had to search for a parking space all over city and finally found an opening slot in Adayar. When I asked for the landmark where he parked, he softly gave the replay No: 22 Springfields, Adayar. For a moment I became still. It was my house address. Thank god, I have an address in this city which I had imprinted on the wall on a brass plate and only my car was parked in my absence. When I switched on the key the food in my gut got digested when I found the petrol tank almost empty.
Recently I happened to visit a newly opened huge departmental store where everything under the sun is available. I wondered whether he has a parking place for sale. This time I was careful in not taking my car. We went by a crowded bus and landed. At the entrance , as usual a guard in uniform and a set of uniformed men, whom I could guess very well as drivers ready for wallet parking. Suddenly in a corner, I saw a specially dressed man totally different from the figures of Disney Land in character who roam around the place supposed to be keeping the children happy. Most of the tiny tots start crying looking at these bizarre looking animations. I got thrilled to see this dressed man. I went near him and was surprised that he was in a space suit and ready to get into a rocket to be launched at any moment. He was too enthusiastic.
When I asked him what for he is waiting, pat came the reply: Valet parking at Mars, Sir!
While returning, I was thinking about my young days in Bangalore where space was plenty and vehicles were limited. What a cool and calm place was it, full of trees and lawns and gardens. I was walking all the five kilometer stretch to my office without getting tired. Free and fresh air to breathe, clean water from the well to drink. We were lucky enough to have a fiat car and a parking garage for it. We seldom used it for our short distances and were a pleasure for long distance outings. Those days will remain in my dream in future.
The invention of “flying cars” is in the infant stage now. Recently it has appeared in a James Bond movie. We have to think about space for its taxiing and takeoff and hangars, and the place for its landing in case of emergency on the roof top with a circle and FC mark emitting phlorescence. If they are unable to land we must have flying filling stations for them not to run out of gas. Already the buildings are constructed so near in such a way that the opening door of one window forces the other man living in opposite to shut his window with a show of irritation. So think of the plight of spreading the wings of these flying cars! Collision is imminent in the ground itself. The street fights will be a real drama in 3D which does not require any rehearsals and retakes. Cinema houses will run empty and reel heroes and villains will be watching these scenes with immense pleasure when the spectators enact with real emotions. Unfortunately the veteran reel villains Veerappa and Nambiar are not alive today. They would have created a stunt with their time heroes gyrating in air and land with this fantasy machine with the heroines they will not get ultimately, instead of a sword fight moving spiraling around the narrow steps of the light house near the fortress. Insurance companies, please beware!
Dated 28th Nov, 2013. ( Pure imagination only)