My (mis)adventure in a convertible!
Growing up middle class in New Delhi, I lived on a diet of old-time Hollywood movies and English magazines borrowed from the bookstore in the alleyway down my house at 12 Rajouri Garden Lane. The dim-lit bookstore, barely bigger than the 500-feet walk-in closet I now call my own had wire-strung Hindi dailies, romance novels and glossy magazines called Woman & Home and Harper's Bazaar from the U.K. I'd wait for the weekly edition to show up on the rack outside and then I'd plunk down a handful of coins—the sum total of my allowance—to rent it for 48 hours.
I'd pore over the pictures of the fashionably clad female model, almost always in a clingy, spaghetti-strap polka-dot dress, her bouncy, blond curls tied in a matching silk scarf fastened beneath her chin. Almost always next to a raven-haired, hawk-nosed George Clooney look-alike male model, gazing at her admiringly. And yes, always, the top down convertible, the sun glinting off its silver bonnet. The characters may change from time to time, as may the fashions, but the shiny red sports car with the convertible top down was an image that was as consistent as death and taxes.
With these glorious memories bouncing in my brain, it was impossible to contain my squeal of delight when my husband suggested we rent a Miata convertible on our honeymoon trip to Maui, Hawaii.
"Top down?" I asked, flirtatiously batting my eyelashes at him as I'd seen Audrey Hepburn do in countless movies.
"Of course," he replied, with a worldly shake of his head that seemed to signify, "Why else would you rent a convertible, silly?"
Happy that I'd chosen well with my choice of mate, I prepared to get ready for my own Hollywood moment. I chose my outfit carefully --bright fuchsia shorts paired with a black ribbed blouse; I wanted to be ready for any gawking bystanders as I alighted from the sleek convertible. I tied my shiny, black curls in a silky scarf and rammed oversize tortoise shell sunglasses onto my face that were a little lopsided but would have to do.
I was a little surprised as to how low and uncomfortable the passenger seat was but I swallowed my discomfort and concentrated on my style and appearance instead. My husband rolled the top down with a creaking sound as the wind gusted in, hot as a dryer. I hastily pulled back my elbows from the searing heat as the car took off with a lurch. The wind raged around me, stung my eyes and cheeks, and tore the scarf straight off my head.
30 minutes later, I scrambled out, limp with fatigue and sweating profusely. My carefully coiffed hair looked like it had hit a cyclone on steroids.
"OMG! What a bumpy, windy, hot ride!" I croaked through dry, cracked lips. I lumbered towards the hotel entrance, trying to pull down my nylon shorts to a semblance of decency. I'd spied a bunch of giggling teenage girls who were looking at my wind whipped hair and my crumpled shorts with more horror than the admiration I'd sought.
A month later, when it came time to buy my first car, my husband suggested a convertible.
"No, thank you," I responded with a slight shudder. "A sedan will suit me just fine."