Ubiquitous. Universal. Unanimous

21 Dec,2020

File Picture. Creative Commons

 

On Maruti’s 37th birthday last week, our columnist and senior brand and auto industry specialist Avik Chattopadhyay goes first person

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

Terribly sorry for the delay in writing to all of you. Was caught up in my 37th birthday celebrations last week. It was quite something!

 

So many messages. So many wishes. So many memories. So many little milestones to remember. Brought a tear to my eye actually. Never realised there is so much love for me still in the hearts and minds of people around me.

 

A newspaper report announcing the big launch

Life has been quite a roller coaster for me. it took quite some time to conceive me. Guess my mother took her time to choose her suitor and settle down. She finally did, with my Japanese father. The early days were not the best for me. you see, I was born a bit underweight in 1983. My mother was worried about my health. People kept telling her that this sickly kid would not make it. But I gave it my best, ably shielded in my mother’s lap. A few relatives came to our support in my initial years.

 

By the time I was three, the tide had turned. I was a rockstar in kindergarten. The two bullies of my class were outclassed by me. The fat English one beat a hasty retreat. The slick Italian did put up a brief fight, given his extended family, but finally accepted to operate under my protection. I became a social magnet. Exams were cracked and the playground was conquered. Music and art classes were literally child’s play. I even took to the racetrack and licked it every time I stepped on to one. Teachers pampered me, the girls swooned over me and the boys wanted to be like me. school was a breeze.

 

I brought about a revolution of sorts. People by the thousands came out on to the streets, from all walks of life. I gave them the freedom to move, the freedom to explore, the freedom to express themselves. Being seen with me was a matter of status.

 

I entered college when I was only 14, having topped the higher secondary exams with record marks.  Stepped out of my town for the first time. There were newer people around me, from other towns, of different shapes and sizes. But my reputation had preceded me. After all, the state had never seen such a young topper in academics and all-rounder. I held my ground. Donned a new style and new ambitions to conquer a larger world now. Gave myself flashy new colours, new clothes and learnt new tricks. I might not have been the biggest guy but was still a favourite with the crowd. Was at every happening place…concerts, parties, shopping malls, marriages…you name it, and I was there. Ubiquitous. Universal. Unanimous.

 

 

By the time I graduated, I realised that life would be getting more competitive and stressful. But my parents had never taught me to give up so easily. So, I stepped right into the professional world. Did not want to waste time on further academic qualifications. As a young lad of 18, you do not expect to get the best of jobs. You might be light on your feet, quick thinking and efficient at whatever you do but your size becomes a bit of a constraint. So, I had to plan my moves carefully. No point getting squeezed amongst the big guys without finishing my task. The early 2000s were also a turning point for India. The consumer had come of age. Life was rapidly getting global, connected and ambitious. The millions I had brought on to the roads now wanted a better experience. Quite natural of them. Life does not stand still for ever. I had to bring more millions on the roads… the ones who had never imagined so. I had to continue to be accessible and friendly. I was now this rockstar who was called in for nostalgia concerts. I knew that I could not continue this for much longer. Being on the road for twenty years non-stop does take its toll on health and constitution.

 

So, I had to plan my exit…slow, smooth and steady. I had to prepare the next line of command and hand over the mantle of leadership. I had identified my worthy successor. He was now four years old. A strapping young lad in whose eyes I saw myself way back in 1988. He sure was modern, with a fresh outlook but not altogether different from my DNA. The task of drawing out more millions on to the roads had to be carried on.

 

Some legends are born. They appear like the supernova. And then they go away in a burst of fireworks. And some legends are crafted. They take time to take shape and leave a lasting impact and a worthy successor. I happen to be of the latter type. And I have enjoyed every moment of this journey…the straights, the bends, the chicanes and the blind alleys.

 

The last 10 years of my life were quite uneventful. Boring, to be quite honest. Just like leaders who have crossed their prime but are forced to stay put, I was made to endure the same vegetative state. But I tried to make the most of it by a thorough handover to my successor. And enjoying some special moments like when I saw a couple of 70-year-olds ambling along India Gate in New Delhi with the words “Narain Karthikeyan ka baap!” on the rear screen. Occasions such as these make a life worthwhile. Finally, after 31 whirlwind years of bringing 2.6 million Indians on the roads, I bid adieu in 2014.

 

It has been six years since then. I have not had an obituary written about me. Nor an epitaph. No resting place for me. For I do not rest. I am still alive in the hearts and minds of millions. 2020 for all of you has been quite like the last 10 years were for me…waiting for it to end. For tomorrow will be better and brighter. So, here is wishing you all a terrific 2021!

 

Your favourite “Mrooti

 

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