But how did you come to love cars and driving?” he asked. He slammed on the brakes whilst dropping 2 gears on the paddles. The car rev-matched. It shrieked & screamed.
My thoughts drifted into the past, drowning the car’s hellish howl.
The turn into grandma's housing estate was 150 metres ahead. From there on it was another 500 metres of uphill sharp turns into the rolling mist of dawn. To be precise, a small jump over a bridge, a sharp left, sharp right and a sweeping left all the way to the top where her house nestled right behind the sultan's private forest.
My uncle’s '67 Beetle was noisy. It rattled like an empty tin can and smelled like an ashtray. The backseat of the classic Beetles were flat. There were two leather straps hanging from the top of each B pillars inside. Barely built for securing little teenage kids.
The 90’s might seem like a long forgotten time for some. But I remember.
I remember most of my days. Like every other generation that came before swears by, it was the best time, ever. I was in my early teens when my uncle used to drive the Beetle. He was, and still is the coolest uncle in my family. During the 90’s he used to be contractually tied with the country’s utility department to build electrical substations.
My mother referred to him as a brilliant man. He always seemed to have answers to absolutely everything. There was a mystical aura that surrounded him. Mysterious.
To me, he is wise and oddly spiritual even though I can never recall him ever talking about faith or religion. But he loved cars. His room at grandma's was off limits to the kids. It was a sacred temple of dust, cigarette butts, engineering plans and hundreds of Autocar magazines.
Hundreds of Autocar magazine which I wanted read.
But more than the magazines, I longed for that 500 metre drive up to grandma’s house.
500 metres might not seem that far, but when we were younger, time lingered revealing its abundance. Distances was gloriously vast and speed, well, my uncle could have barely touched 40mph then.
He was a skilled driver but never reckless. These days I know he held back. Still, it was exhilarating for my teenage self. With him, driving was not just about going fast. It was about how it made you feel, the sense of knowing the machines limits & respecting that limit. A ballet in unison. He took the corners as if the Beetle was on rails. My neurones released endorphins on overdrive. Stretching time itself.
It was excitement beyond comprehension for my younger self and utterly terrifying. I wanted to drive. I started falling in love with ‘the car’. Every trip down that stretch only made my love grow fonder. Driving has always been about that. The connection between us and 'them', between the organic and the mechanical. That momentary state of being. Provided, the car is willing to have a conversation.
A car means different things to different people. To me, its my moment. The only moment I’m truly ‘being’.
“Its overtly romantic.” I blurted out.
“Sorry?” he said.
“Oh, no. My uncle. He used to read a lot of car magazines. I read some of them when we visited his place.”
The light turned green. "Here, we, go."