The moment we saw her, my wife Bunny and I decided to call her Bug. She was cute as any cute bug can be. She was our first Maruti (pronounced M’rooti) 800. More, she was our very first brand-new car. It was 1987, and we had just moved to Delhi from what was then Calcutta. In Calcutta the preferred mode of automotive transport then was the Ambassador, the only vehicle—apart from the hand-pulled rickshaw—that could navigate the city’s monsoon-flooded streets.
But Delhi was Maruti country. A couple of years previously Khushwant Singh had in one of his columns composed a paean of praise for the little ‘people’s car’ which he saw as a herald of India’s coming of modern age. And—thanks to the Maruti 800—all over the country, middle-class India was taking the high road. The newcomer to India’s autoscape was affordable and mechanically reliable.