Our friend got a brand new car a few weeks ago. Yipee for our friend! It’s a big gold Toyota Innova, also known as an expat car. Most expats ride in big SUVs, we liked Sathya’s little white car, the Maruti Suzuki Swift. We got to follow the entire process, from choosing the car color to experiencing a flat tire in the middle of the night! A puncture it’s called here, usually written “puncher”.
First, Toyota lost the money. The full payment. It was wired from one bank to another and “magically” disappeared. I have a few ideas as to where the funds sat for a few days. Since a foreigner had been present during the purchasing, a lot of brouhaha ensued. What still baffles me is how hierarchy works in India: the poor saleswoman, who had nothing to do with funds transfer, almost lost her job. They needed a scapegoat and she was it. In this case, I don’t think it was because of gender, but because of “totem pole position”. After much yelling and pressuring from my white attorney husband who came to the defense of our friend, the funds miraculously reappeared after a serious threat to cancel the sale.
Then came the delivery of the car, at the doorsteps. That was cool! Seven people came to deliver one car. Seven stooges (including the saleslady) apologizing profusely, bringing chocolates and flowers. I didn’t care for the hypocrisy of it all, but was delighted for our friend. His wife had tears of happiness down her cheeks, and the kids wanted to sit in their new chariot.
The next day, or maybe two days later, my memory fails me, it was time for the car puja, the car blessing. And hop in the car we go and head for the Ganesh temple. Mala, our friend’s wife is very religious and these rituals are important to her. To us, it’s one more fun experience, and we like Ganesh.
We had driven past this temple a zillion times, right on Whitefield Main and never paid much attention to it. Mala had a bag with flower garlands and fruits, probably money also. The priest, a rather young man, dressed in orange cloth performed the ceremony. While chanting, he threw drops of water on the car, painted Hindu symbols on the windshield, went back and forth to the back of the temple where the elephant god statue is, while she was praying, ringing the bell (with the right hand only) and twirling on herself at the end. The priest did something with a coconut too. My favorite part was the lemon crushing: you place lemons in front of each wheel, and drive the car 10 inches. The lemons go “pop”, it’s so fun!
If we had stayed in Bangalore longer, I would have been more curious about the Hindu faith. All houses we have entered have a puja room, or if the house is small, a corner or a shelf is dedicated to a particular god. I was starting to be more comfortable asking questions about religious rituals. For now, we bought a little Ganesh statue at our new favorite Indian store in the Woodlands and stuck in on the dashboard of our car!
And in the city of a 170-feet tall Christian cross, I wear my Om pendant.