10 years of the Tata Nano: This day, that year

Nano Cartoon

I’m celebrating this day in a small way – reminiscing the little car that made my emotions light up like a jarful of fireflies. There’s no point in recalling its failure; many have done that. And I’m certainly not putting the boot in, because I’m not one of those who loathed the Nano.


In my eyes, the Nano was always a winner. It won hearts, grew over people who were mislead into perceiving it to be anything less of a car, sold well for a considerably short period and made young children like me, dream of having one someday.


More often than not, I find myself hot under the collar to think that all it took to take down a budding flower, was a bloody fire – and that too, triggered by some daft aftermarket add-on. Do the same thing to a Ferrari, a Lamborghini or a Pagani, for that matter – and the same thing is likely to happen. But people still buy those cars. None of their ilk have dwindled. The Nano did.


Fame, the Nano was familiar with. Even when some of the cars caught fire, it was making news. But when the then “The Tonight Show’s” star bought one, it took ‘fame’ to another degree altogether


Nano owners – every one of you reading this – have all the right to hold your head up high. I’m giving you the cogent liberty to do it. We have nothing to be shamefaced about. We don’t drive cheap cars; we drive the one-lakh rupee car; the same one Jay Leno does. We drive cute, fun, characterful little cars that were built particularly for our kin. We understood the car – but over and above all – exercised the most important ritual of buying one. None of us are confused. We’ve always wanted one; we’ll always have one – and there’s nobody who can take that away from us. In our thoughts, peculiar fancies and visions of ownership, we will always be together.


Some of the moments I can never forget through this rollicking journey will always have me turn back, and give it one last look.


The time when I was riding pillion with Dad on his scooter, as we pass a book store in rush hour traffic, I just about manage to vehemently spot the latest copy of Autocar India with “Tata Nano’ headlining what happened to be the latest February 2008 issue – all this being visible through a glass-display from outside. I quickly ask my father for some money, and then rush in to get hold of a copy, fresh off the press. The fragrance of a printed copy – ah, nothing comes close. Not even custard.


I’m giving you the cogent liberty to do it. We have nothing to be shamefaced about. We don’t drive cheap cars; we drive the one-lakh rupee car; the same one Jay Leno does


It was some ridiculously odd part of the night when I had sneaked into my brother’s friend’s parking lot in the colony to get a glimpse of his glistening, new Nano. He was one among the lucky one-lakh customers to have been allotted a car before anybody else. All I could think of at the time, was how to make it mine. Steal it, perhaps? Maybe.


Fame, the Nano was familiar with. Even when some of the cars caught fire, it was making news. But when the then “The Tonight Show’s” star bought one, it took ‘fame’ to another degree altogether. Jay Leno very succinctly puts it: “…the air-conditioner is better than the air-conditioner on an F1 McLaren. I have an F1 McLaren, and I had my air-conditioning upgraded, and it’s not as good as this – so Nano, you might not be faster than the F1; you might not handle as good or brake as good, but when it comes to air-conditioning, you guys got it spot-on, so thank you very much; in fact, I’m gonna take this air-conditioner outta this Nano and put it in my F1 McLaren.”


I’m not going to forget what made this car the legend it is today. Not even what I just wrote.

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