I got into a friend’s car and they both apologized for the mess in the car and removed one toy from the seat. I cringed. Everything else about the car was spotless. No rubber-bands and dried leaves on the floor, no spare jackets on the seats, no books peeping out of every pocket – not even a chocolate wrapper on the floor and they apologized for the mess. I made a mental note to compose something proportionate when I gave them a lift. I don’t think mere words are enough. The cars interiors and exteriors have led to intense arguments about what is a reasonable mess quotient for a car in our family. Ever the sensible voice in the family, the daughter suggested that we take an adventure of sorts and get the car cleaned by going to that fun car wash down the street. So, off we went jibber-jabbering the whole way.
The automatic carwash is the one thing that had my eyes positively popping out in all directions when I first came to the US. Perhaps I have told readers about my brother and his love for vehicles on wheels. For refreshers, please hop on over to his blogpost – if that doesn’t convince you about his love for vehicles, I don’t know what will
Point is that as long as I was with him, I had to just take my vehicle and go wherever I was going. He’d have it cleaned, he’d fill the petrol tank (except on one occasion that I shall blog about soon), turn on the ignition and hand over the vehicle to me with a longing in his eyes. I would then get on and simply move-it with a wave to the dear fellow. Moving to the US has altered all that. There is no brother at hand to take care of my car for me. The car needs washing, I wash it. Sigh! From the opening paragraph it is all too clear that I am not doing a stellar job at it either.
The daughter and I enjoyed the carwash and on our way back I couldn’t help telling her about how I felt when I went for my first carwash in the US.
“You mean – you have never seen an automatic carwash till you came to the US? You’re kidding right?” she said incredulity dripping out of every syllable. I then explained car washes to her as done in India.
A carwash in India has as many flavors as the spices and the industry thrives on a number of best practices. Only none of them are documented.
The marketing slogan used is:
Saar Saaar Saar Saar – carwaas saar carwaas saar carwaas
Adjusted to traffic and surroundings. Decibel levels should allow for marketing slogan to be heard inside rolled up car windows.
Some places I know have “saloon caarwaas”, “jest fast carwaas” and regular deals. The saloon carwashes are the ones done with foaming soap and water. While this is done with a regular service, the owner has the option of sipping tea (hand-delivered with a finger in your cup) or leaving the car there. Best done with reliable dealers or mechanics, for we all know that spare parts are hard to come by.
As for the Jest Fast carwaas variety, I’ve seen them done in minutes while waiting for the traffic signal to turn green. A bunch of guys throw some water on the car and another bunch climb on with towels and scrub clean. One time the signal turned green and the guy on the front windscreen was not done yet. He kept wiping while the impatient mistress honked to let him know. This guy should be identified and recruited by any organization worth its salts, I have always maintained. For Rs. 5, he simply wouldn’t let a bird dropping go. He scrubbed and scrubbed. He screamed to the driver – “Madam – keep moving! I will scrub and then jump off at the next signal. Don’t worry!”
So, the lady drove gingerly with this guy squatting on the hood and scrubbing the windscreen with all his might. It is a pity I hadn’t a cell-phone to snap a picture with me right away, but I shall always, always carry that image with me.
As expected the daughter guffawed at the whole story and said she preferred the automatic variety. I was not so sure.