Saturday, February 17, 2018
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The Vintage Car Rally let loose a flood of nostalgia for those who have lived through those days when Austin, Baby Austin of the 1930s were seen moving on Allahabad roads. I recall the days of post mid-forties of last century when these cars and other cars having big names would pass elegantly through  our roads.

My father had a Babu Austin and I recall having had innumerable rides on that. There never was any traffic jam. And we also had a Rover that my father purchased from Justice Hamilton in 1946. Thereafter he acquired a Hillman. As far as I remember petrol was available for Rs1.50 a gallon !

I recall an interesting incident. A British car owner known to my father found that his car would not move. He showed it to several big workshops but none could detect the fault. My dad knew a mechanic, a class four employee, who used to repair cars at a small roadside workshop he had opened.  He rook him there. The mechanic looked at the car and said, ‘Please come after an hour’. The owner went there after an hour. His car was roaring back with life. He was mighty pleased. He was charged Rs20 which he willingly gave. Subsequently when my Dad met the mechanic and asked him why he had called the gentleman after an hour. The mechanic told him, ‘The fault was set right in two minutes. Had I done that in his presence he wouldn’t have paid me anything. But I charged  him for my know-how.No material was used.’

Our Rover car was with us for many years. The unique thing was that the cars could be recognized from a distance. If it was a big Ford car, one knew that so and so must be inside it.  The Rover car had such a charming look that when British nationals came to Allahabad and stayed in Barnetts they would marvel at the car standing in the portico and take its photographs because it was a British car.
On the University campus Prof Ansari of the History department was known more for his baby Austin car than for his lectures.  He would drive the car very slowly. There is a joke. Once Prof R.P.Bahadur (then Reader in Economics Department) was walking on foot, Dr Ansari’s car rolled by. Dr Ansari saw him, slowed down and said, ‘Dr Bahadur, can I give you a lift?’ Dr Bahadur replied, ‘No thanks. I am in a hurry. I will walk...!’  Prof Ashok Kumar is extremely fond of vintage cars and he drives them too!

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