Why the Maruti Gypsy Deserved to Die
Like abusive relationships, it would be wrong to glorify the Gypsy today.
Like abusive relationships, it would be wrong to glorify the Gypsy today.(Photo: The Quint)

Why the Maruti Gypsy Deserved to Die

They tell me that they've finally shut shop for the Maruti Suzuki Gypsy. Most of you kids with ABS would probably say Gypsy who? To your dads and mums and uncles and aunts and those really older siblings (congratulations in the last case, you were unplanned) it was the king of cool. There'd always be an unhinged brat in the family who owned one with Queen or Jumma chumma dede blaring on the precariously balanced makeshift cassette player. And that would be the uncle who would spoil you to death. Back in the day, we used line up to make a road trip of a daily commute on this car. This would also be the guy who would either turn out to be that incurable man child or someone who'd quit everything once the Gypsy sojourn was over, get a stable job, get married and stay normal. There's never a middle path with these people.

Have you ever done something where you're absolutely sure you've made the wrong choice and still wouldn't have it any other way? I'm sure some of us have done that at some point in time and if you haven't, you're really not the target audience for this piece.

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For me, it was when I bought a fresh, off the block, spanking new Maruti Suzuki Gypsy, 26 April 2013. Where the EMI for the mistake was half my salary. Young-ish litigating lawyer, don't ask. The mistake becomes apparent the minute you're picking it up from the showroom. No fanfare, no ribbons, no plastic, just a bunch of confused sales people and mechanics, scratching their heads as to why anyone would go for this. And it didn't stop there. No air conditioning, no tacho, no power windows, no power steering, an engine that would overheat if you're stuck in traffic too long, no dashboard, no music system and believe it, no footmats. They give you two of those gearsticks, though.

Departure From Sanity

And that's where the departure from sanity begins. You begin to understand how important strong shoulders and forearms are. You realize the value of steering feedback in fast corners on a car as light as a Maruti 800. Trust me, nothing after this can scare you in a corner. Nothing.

You get why air conditioning is overrated. You understand the rear wheel drive and how a heavy right foot can just cut your massive truck sized turning radius in half, and moreover, you realize that when you're on the road, you're driving the staff of Moses. The traffic will part, scram, scatter, vamoose, make way because no one is in with the idea of a gypsy's headlamps and cheap front grille and that bumper getting bigger and bigger in your rearview.

The car may seem ungainly on day 1, but trust me, day 7 and you'll never want to drive anything else. I had a particularly hard time getting into the SX4, which from what I hear, is a pretty spartan car, at least on the interiors. To me, it looks like the bridge from Star Trek’s USS Enterprise. The 2009 version, of course.

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Possibly the most impractical car anyone would have come across, it does have it's peculiarities. Like how the window is at the perfect height for you to keep one arm on the sill and drive, the single-sheet windshield that shatters on one pebble impact, those windshield wipers that are placed so wrong, it messes with your vision, limited as it is. But then, as one very erudite gentleman had mentioned in an article a few years ago, if you were on a date with Scarlett Johannsen, would you really care if she had a runny nose? Yeah, I guess not.

Time to Move On

But then, that was back then. Today, it probably does deserve to die. It doesn't fit today's domain, just like the people who still believe in the concept of the Gypsy. Like abusive relationships, it would be wrong to glorify the Gypsy today. It isn't fast, it is dated beyond belief, the niggles and guzzles overpower your senses. Bouncing across on ancient leaf springs, with a bad back, and aching shoulders, drenched in sweat is not how you'd want to land up in office. And specifically if you're in Delhi, it's not a hot pick on date night as well. It had it's day in the sun, and that was 30 years ago where the Fiat Padmini and the Hindustan Ambassador were the only options. Kids today, saving up for their first car would rightly go for a Polo or a Swift. Like Alfred (Batman’s butler) said, you can strap up your knee and put on the cape, but that doesn't make you what you were. It's a shadow of what it was. And like a bedroom poster car, it's much harder to live with than drool over.

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It was probably the first and only car in India that defied evolution, apart from the Multi Point Fuel Injection (MPFI) upgrade in the 90s, the car's pretty much the same as it was some 40 odd years ago. It's like a shark, hasn't needed any evolution since the Triassic. But they've dwindled as hell. Hand wound watches from the 60s. People don't get it when you appreciate the manic ticking behind that dial, because they're too busy taking calls on the smartwatch. Probably the way of the future, but if you ask me, if someone asked me at 11 pm what time it was, and I asked for a charger, I'd probably slit my wrists. People are talking Teslas today. The world is going electric. Green. You can't have the world wait on a cleaner tomorrow because some of us choose to live in the past. I'm not saying I subscribe to the Toyota Prius, hell no. I'm just saying that I probably should. Acknowledgement is probably the first step to acceptance. The gramophone player has to give way to the iPod. Ten years down, when the last remnant of my time gets outlawed, I'd probably get a tattoo of the Gypsy, and go catch an electric auto to work. But as the bearded man said, it is not this day.

Till then, let's wake the neighbourhood, and be the rock n roll generation we were meant to be.

The Gypsy King is dead.

Long live the King.

(Shakunt Saumitra is a lawyer by day and a pop culture junkie by night. He can quote every single dialogue in all the Star Wars movies and tweets under the handle@kuljeete_pajero)

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