India That Is Bharat
Satiricus was in two minds. Should he, or should he not? Should he buy it, or should he not? Can Satiricus or can’t Satiricus afford it on the cheque the editor sends him for this column? After all, a Ferrari is expensive. Oh well, for once in his penny-pinching penpusher’s life Satiricus decided to splurge, and bought a Ferrari—no, not a car with that brand name, but a shaving brush of that brand name.
Jokes apart, Satiricus may be as poor as a church mouse (despite the Catholic church being the world’s richest MNC), but he certainly felt a proud citizen of prosperous India when he recently read in the papers that the world-famous Ferrari car was now on sale here. He is told it costs three-four crore rupees but that is peanuts for us Indians who have 70,000 crore rupees in Swiss banks. In fact, Satiricus is happy to see the Indian economy’s Swiss prosperity scaling such dizzy heights that just one multi-crore car brand is now infradig, so we also have Maybach, the ultra-luxury Mercedes car with a price tag of four to six crore rupees.
“There are many people in India who can afford this car,” the CEO of the Mercedes company said while launching the car the other day. Of course, there are, and their number is rapidly rising to suit the status of the prime mover of the prime minister with a Swiss bank balance of more than two billion dollars.
Now Satiricus, sad to say, does not have even one billion, forget two, but suppose he was a successful scammer and was driven by the ambition to drive a Ferrari or a Maybach or a Rolls Royce, would he do so on the congested roads of a metro like Delhi or Mumbai? Not if he was in a hurry. For he recalls a wit’s tongue-in-check observation—once, when a pedestrian wanted to spend a longer time to reach from here to there than he would take if he walked, he invented the car.
Still, wouldn’t it be terrible if Satiricus accidently dashed his fancy Ferrari or natty Nano into a pedestrian carelessly crossing the street? Fortunately, that need not happen, for the Swedish car-maker Volvo has reportedly designed a car that stops on its own to let the pedestrian pass. It is equipped with a technology using radar and camera which brings the car to a halt automatically whenever a pedestrian steps out in front of it. Well, well,well…. Does that not mean Satiricus would be safe daydreaming while driving? It would—literally. For the Volvo technology does not work at night. So driver Satiricus had better not forget the difference between a daydream and a nightmare.
But what if Satiricus does doze at the wheel? The answer is a car that talks. According to recent reports from London, the Ford car company is developing a “talking car” that is equipped with a voice communication technology with which the driver can actually converse with his car. What about? The answer : The driver can ask (and get answer to) such age-old questions like “Where’s the next petrol pump?” or “Can I go to the toilet?” or “Are we nearly there yet?” Hear, hear, says Satiricus; but he has a question—not for the car, but for the car-maker. Ford is an American car, but this talking car is reportedly going to be available in England next year; then, in view of the fact that England and America are separated by the same language, which English is this car going to talk? And secondly will the topics of the car’s conversation be limited to petrol pumps and toilet rooms? The Ford people say, no. They say the car’s voice-operated technology will be able to master 10,000 commands in 20 languages, and the driver can even use it for “accessing information about the surrounding area”.
And finally the question of questions: Should the function of the car be limited to taking the driver from here to there while chatting with him, avoiding jaywalkers, and pointing out toilets? It should not, so a car has been developed which can read e-mails and Facebook updates and even provide “infotainment” by helping to find the driver’s favourite music channels. It is being called the “Internet Car.”
By this time Satiricus has started feeling decidedly dizzy. He now wonders—if all this makes the car of today, what about the car of tomorrow? The answer to that question has come straight from Ripley’s “Believe It or Not”—a car made of bananas and pineapples. A team of scientists at a university in Brazil has reportedly developed a technology to use fibres from these and other plants in a new type of automotive plastics that are stronger, lighter and more eco-friendly than plastics currently used in cars. “We believe that a lot of car parts, including dashboards, bumpers, side panels will be made of nano-sized fruit fibres in the future”, the leader of the research team said. This is the limit. Satiricus knows that “going bananas” is the mod phrase for going crazy, but now it needs an update—going bananas may mean going car-crazy.