Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Indian car parking crisis and why my white car will be rogered this Holi!

car parking india holi
The mounting Indian car parking crisis! 
While some of you have done your Holi shopping for new clothes, single malt and the green stuff they call bhaang, I am saving up all that I have for a car wash and 3M polish once the riot of colours is over.

Where is my car parked?

The year that went by was so amazing in terms of the money coming in that I cannot afford to repair the deep gash on the front of my car and a broken left headlamp assembly. That was the result of an auto rickshaw mating with the front end of my car in one of Kolkata's narrow lanes. But I love my car.

Tonight, she stands out on the main street, under a tree and beside an ambulance that has not moved from it's place for a year. My pristine white hatchback is unsecured, parked under the open sky and vulnerable to the water balloons and colour spray guns that are going to run amok on the streets tomorrow. And little kids have this uncanny affinity to all things white and clean on the Holi day. Darn! Thus the saving for the clean up, you see.

Why is my car parked there?

Way back in 1988, when my father made a little money and we moved from a village to the outskirts of Kolkata, where I live to this day, owning a car was a little ahead of imagination. The apartment complex we bought our house and moved in has a 150 apartments/ flats in total. However, back in those days, when car parking norms were not really in vogue, the builder did not feel the need to waste any space making car parks. And the builder was not really wrong.
"Beta (Son), the chap was offering a covered garage to me back in 1989 for fifteen thousand rupees. And he was ready to take the money in 3 instalments. None of us even dreamed of owning a car. So there was practically no demand for car parking space those days", daddy told me over dinner one day.
"And see, today, you cannot get one of those 15 garages for even 5 lac rupees! How the times change", dad sighed, remembering to compliment mom on the nice parathas she was dishing out that evening.

Who took my car parking space?

There were no easy home loans back then. Buying a house took a lot, correction, took everything out of a working man. By the time the funds for the house were arranged and the place bought, the pressure of returning the loans from friends and family took front row seats. A car back in 1989 was a luxury a middle class man could not dream of.
"Would you buy hangar space along with your home today? Even if you bought an expensive as hell of a home, the thought of investing in parking space for an aircraft would seem outrageous right? That is exactly the way we felt about car parking space", good old dad puts it in perspective. And he could not be truer!

But we always have some people who are ahead of the curve. And then you have folks with money to spare. Slowly, over the years between 1988 and 1993 (it took 5 years for the builder to sell 15 car parking spaces in a 150 apartments project) these car parks were bought by the affluent ones in our apartment complex. Just to remind you, these few garage owners have used their Holi funds and stuffed their bars, fridges and wardrobes with goodies. While my mechanic has warned me that there are no discounts for post Holi cleaning and polishing. Thank you dost.

Can I work out a solution next year?

I do not think so. Over the last few years, a lot of residents in our complex have bought cars. Some have even bought two cars! The result is that every garage and every inch of the common passage where car parking is illegal is crammed with wheels. The passageway leading up from our campus entrance till the main road is also lined up with cars. If you return post 9 PM (which in my case is daily), chances are that you will have the internal passage and the external link road full of parked cars. The only option is to park in the lane beside the one leading up to my house. This other lane heads to a hospital and on some days, even this space is full. I often have to wait long periods just to have one of the doctors leave the hospital to make space for me to park!

All of tomorrow, my beloved car is a white sitting duck among a bunch of trigger happy kids with loaded, color belching guns. May the Lord have mercy on my hatchback.

Morals of the story

#1. No matter how stretched your budget is, do NOT buy a home without a dedicated covered car parking space.

#2. Open car parks are grey areas. But Indian builders love the grey stuff. Avoid buying an open car park just because it comes cheaper. It is not worth it.

#3. It is advisable to ask the builder or his agent to allot you a car parking number and mark it out on the building plan when you buy your home in a project under construction. If there is going to be a lottery to decide who gets which car park, we assure you of a war of decent proportions among your neighbours in the housing complex. Insist on 'first come, first served'.

#4. If you have some dough to spare after you are done buying your home et al, buy a second covered car park if available. You could go on to buy two cars. The resale value of your home will be greater than any with one car park less. You could flip the extra car park 5 years from now and buy a small country with the profit!

#5. Pray. If you live in an apartment complex like mine.

By the way, dad could not have made any sense with the aircraft hangar thingy, isn't it? But it gives me that funny feeling nevertheless. Happy Holi folks!
- Rahul Mishra

Other Car Parking Articles from us:

1. Open and covered car parking spaces in Indian Residential Complexes. What works best?

3. 15 ways to have wild sex in a car parking lot. 

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