|Premier Padmini (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
In today’s day and age when everybody has a car getting it insured seems like child’s play. I mean how difficult can it be? When you buy a car, the insurance agent is already waiting with a pen for you to sign the dotted line even before you drive off and thereafter it is only a matter of routine when you get a reminder in the mail and a call from the agent asking when he/she can come and pick up the cheque……… What can be easier than that?
The problem arises when you have an old car which no one wants to insure. We have an old car which at one time was way ahead of its time. It had a souped up engine, it was airconditioned , it had four speakers and the best music system and it even had a Fiamm horn whose loud boom had all the traffic give way for a piddly little white Premier Padmini . It is sad but this car which once was known affectionately by all who sat in it and all who drove it, even all who maintained it is today a sad spectacle . It’s decline from glory began when the girls felt ashamed to sit in the back when all the other kids came to school in Mercedes and Toyotas. Indeed they forgot those days when this peppy little Fiat ( I prefer to call it that) brought them home from the hospita, took them for rides while their ears ached as babies ( that was the only airconditioning we knew of since our home was not air conditioned in those days). Alas today this old faithful is already classified as vintage. In a few years it will become an antique………..
Some old friend of Hubby Dear once advised him never to sell this car which is why it languised in our garage, occupying pride of place in prime property while it accumulated rust with disuse. Suddenly experiencing the void our girls left in our lives, Hubby Dear was consumed with this mad passion to revive the Old Girl and restore her to her former glory. So began our tryst with Mr. Swadi a crusty old 80 year old with a big booming voice and a commanding presence. Like a little school boy Hubby Dear was summoned to the Old Man’s Office to check on the progress of the restoration of the car.
“I refuse to repair a car if the owner refuses to look at it!” he had warned so for the past few months Hubby Dear had to find time to look at the Old Girl.
Finally when the car came home it was returned to its pride of place and made the occasional round in the compound just to keep the engine going. Hubby Dear always recounted the words of Muchlowski, his old Polish friend ” Old cars are like women, they have to be used regularly to be kept in good shape!”
So after several months of going round the compound, we realised that the Insurance policy of the Old Girl had expired . I hunted out the number of the agent who has since retired and also fought with his heir and successor and refused to give me his co-ordinates. I was in a fix. The only other Insurance agent I knew of was Chandu who Anna Shetty is convinced has addled brains (a fact quite likely considering he juggles two legitimate families one in Mumbai and the other in Jalgaon) and who handles our Medical Insurance.
I called the next best option TATA AIG who handles the insurance of my car. The lady at the other end was very helpful considering she was somewhere in Gurgaon or Chennai (call centres are somehow never in Mumbai) and told me that since the car was more than 10 years old it couldn’t technically be insured but still if I insisted I would have to contact their office in either Bandra, Navi Mumbai or Bhayaindar. And what was worse, I’d have to take the car there for inspection before a decision was taken to “award” the insurance. Obviously this person had no idea about places or distances in Mumbai. Nor did she have any idea of Hubby Dear’s bifurcation of the world as Mumbai and North India (which begins from Worli just a few kilometres north of our house) and his deep reservations of shaking hands with anyone remotely North of the Vindhyas.
Unsure of what to do next, I was happy when our resourceful driver unearthed an old policy so I called up New India Assurance to make an appointment. This morning I went to the Opera House branch where I was stopped at the gate by a watchman who wanted to know my business. When I explained what I wanted he told me to go to the Cooperage Branch from where the policy was issued.
Luckily the traffic wasn’t half as bad as it normally is and I made it to the office in a good mood. Seeing one lift closed for refurbishment and the rickety state of the other, I was apprehensive about how the meeting would go. Sure enough, I got out on the floor indicated by the watchman below and went into an office which had no sign of a Reception. I walked up to the desk closest to the door and thrust the policy in the agent’s face. He seemed to have no idea of what could be done but luckily an agent across the room heard the conversation and suggested I get in touch with X. After repeating my story for the fourth time now I explained to X my problem
- The insurance policy had expired or was going to expire
- I had no idea where the current policy was
- My current agent refused to insure the car as he had retired
- My current agent refused to give me the telephone number of his son who had inherited the business claiming him to be an incompetent ass
- I still needed to insure the car