The peaceful serenity was mesmerizing. The coffee trees on either side of the road had berries dark green plump with potential. The squirrels looked up curiously at the interruption of the deep bellow of a four-cylinder army green Jeep trundling along the dirt road with a nervous 12-year-old boy at the helm. .
"Clunk" went the gearbox, as I nervously shifted from 2nd to 3rd gear, struggling to learn how to execute the perfect shift. The mechanical groans grew louder as I rounded another hairpin turn near my family coffee estate in Coorg. I had just become tall enough to reach the pedals and wasted no time reminding my dad of that promise he made years ago. I had no luck the 4th time around that bend. The jeep was being increasingly stubborn. Why was it so difficult? I imagined that I would be innately perfect at this considering cars have been such an influential part of my life since I was practically a toddler. I had spent countless hours as a curious 5-year-old in that very estate, curled up by the fireplace next to a pile of old car magazines where I consumed their contents like most kids would go through Fruit Loops. My granddad, a car enthusiast himself, would intervene when my parents tried to usher me off to sleep, "Let him stay up, he's not even tired", and "We were just going to read about the Rolls Royce engine again." We could talk to each other for hours about every aspect of a car. This forged an impenetrable bond between us. .
Cars have been a connecting point for all the men in my family, the common link between our generations. When my dad bought an old Maranello Red Fiat Bertone X1/9, we spent hours working on the engine and the exterior. Sunday afternoons meant greasy hands, smiling faces and my most cherished memories. The thrill I got in those rare moments when Indian traffic parted and my dad would open up that roaring engine making our backs press firmly against the back of the bucket seats would get my heart racing.