Thursday, February 11, 2010

Auto Know Better

A question that I get asked almost as often as "When are you getting married?" is "So what car are you buying?". I find both questions as unnecessary as people asking "Wassup?" or "How are you doing?". And hence merit no reply.

But, maybe a blog post.

At least the car question.

Buying a car is like having a baby. Far too many people do it just because they can.

I think most people will do this world a whole lot good if they didn't buy a car, just as many others would if they did not have a baby. They don't know how to care for one, how to treat one or how to ride one. Car, not baby.

A car is hardly aspirational anymore. Every goddamned person can afford one. And then one more. It's just another machine like a microwave or a TV meant to provide some help.

And practically speaking, especially if you are single, but even otherwise, having a car probably ends up being more a hassle than a help. In a city like Mumbai particularly, where the public modes of transportation are fairly decent, it makes a lot of sense to not add to the traffic even if you can afford to buy a car. Of course, I realize that I might be overlooking some issues like overburdened buses and trains or possible difficulty in getting a cab or rick if a lot more people decided to use them instead of personal cars.

So, I'll just talk at a personal level about my reasons. I can't imagine liking to drive in any city in India. I haven't been to all cities, but have enough experience to make that claim. Heavy traffic, road encroachments, potholed roads, no lane discipline - this is the stuff that a taxi driver's dreams might be made of, but I would rather stick to horror stories that I see on the screen than on the road.

I don't think I have the patience to engage everyday with all the frustrated drivers, pedestrians, stray dogs and other assorted creatures that inhabit our roads on my way to work or back, and still be able to work properly. I enjoy sitting back in a rickshaw or cab and looking at the hoardings or reading on my phone or watching something on my laptop.

Apart from the in-use hassles that driving on most city roads in India entails, the maintenance and servicing of a car is just too much extra work. Getting hit by someone, hitting someone yourself, arguments, insurance, being fleeced by the auto-mechanic, periodic servicing - that's so much precious time lost when I can sit in my living room drinking beer and lazying away. Just parking and then taking it out from the parking is such a headache half the times!

Plus, you are always worried of the car or some part being stolen. Or losing your keys inside. Or the tyre getting punctured at some random place where you have to change the tyre yourself.

One solution to many of these issues could be hiring a driver while you sit back comfortably in your car. Leave the dirty work to lesser mortals. Now that is one option worth exploring.

But, I am not sure I am willing to bear the costs of car loan, petrol AND driver's salary for something I don't need in the first place. If not a rick or a cab, my thumb works just fine.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

MnA Activity

So much to write about, so much lethargy that keeps me from doing it.

But one thing that always gets me excited and makes me want to write is when any of our quizzes get appreciated. Which, thankfully, happens every time we do a quiz.

Menon did a General Quiz at Instruo, the tech-fest at Bengal Engineering and Science University in Howrah on Saturday (6th). Like past MnA quizzes, this one seems to have been a success too. If accounts of Mr Menon's flamboyance are anything to go by.

MnA also came up with (part of) the questions for an internal quiz for The Boston Consulting Group last week. Adds another respectable name to our roster.

We have also done two quizzes so far for o3 Capital, an investment bank. A cricket quiz at their head-quarters in Bangalore, and a general quiz at their off-site in Bangkok. Both were appreciated a lot, and we have had invitations to do more.

And then, I am doing two quizzes for NIT Durgapur in the first week of March. There are some issues related to scheduling that need to be sorted out, but that should not be a major hiccup.

I have gloated about this far too many times earlier, but that won't keep me from doing it more. I (and we) love making and conducting quizzes, and it's great to realize every time that we do it well.

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