Monday, August 29, 2011

Fossils of an automobile.

I remember my Dad’s car it was a Peugeot 203 model which I used to surreptiously drive around the neighborhood by lanes when I was 11 years old. Each of the Brands had a different look and character, the Austin A40, Simca Aronde, Volkswagen Beetle, Vauxhall Velox, Citroen, Ford Prefect, Buick, Subaru, Holden and Fiat etc.Cars were different then, each one had different designs not the cloned look one finds in most cars today.
They were not as perfect as today’s technology too, the radiator was never big enough, and the water pumps were never big enough, the head cracked when they got hot. They used to get got hot as engines heated, every moving part—camshaft, crankshaft, rods, bearings, rings, and all the rest—was stressed and finally warped in ways that spoiled the fine tolerances any engine requires. Later some had had coolant and antifreeze, but it was primitive stuff compared to the brews available today. Modern coolant, the green fluid that mixes with water in radiators, is part of the armory of sophisticated engineering that has eliminated heat as a threat to automotive engines. Today millions make the drive between cities as far as 2000 Kilometers in 120-degree heat with the air conditioner on high, driving way over the speed limit and never giving the heat a thought unless they have to get out and buy gas.

Those days were different, some sort of an alternate reality—alternate, but not made up. It was a reality of hardship, suffering, and endurance that we seem to have lost. The past is not another planet; it is another life. The texture of daily living is different now than in the past, more different the further back we look, until we find people whose experiences created a psychology we might find baffling or rude. Many details that once made up the daily round are lost to us because people considered them too trivial to discuss in these days of shiny I-phones and glitzy cars.
Knowing the past means knowing what people carried in their pockets, what they did with their sewage, where their dogs slept, how the cars broke down during trips and strangers rushed to help, the countryside, sun, moon stars basic elements of nature Those details may seem unimportant, but what they convey is not. We in our ignorance take ‘ego credit” for achieving some Gizmos of technology, which has infinitely insignificant contribution. Our children will remember the I pad with the same palpable nostalgia 40 years from now.- Vinay-

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