The Road Trip Begins…

Posted: January 28, 2011 in Opinion
Tags: , , , ,

Patricia, a 2001 Fiat Palio, was my first car and my first love. This is the best photo that I could find of her.

February 14, 2005: a warm, sunny day in Knysna – a small tourist town on the Garden Route of South Africa. I’m 18 years old, and I’m nervous. Not just any kind of nervous, but the kind of fidgety, freakish nervousness that takes hold of your body and causes you to fiddle with anything and everything in the immediate area – which in my case was the interior of a white 2001 Fiat Palio. Reminding myself that fiddling with everything is probably not a good idea, I pull myself together. For the past hour I’ve been sweating bucket-loads from concentration whilst navigating Knysna’s hills and streets. Usually, this isn’t a problem, but today it is because next to me I have one of Knysna’s finest, sporting sunglasses, a clipboard and a pen. My feeble attempts at making conversation were met with half-hearted grunts of acknowledgement that were almost drowned out by the scribbling of pen against paper.

After sitting in the Traffic Department’s parking lot for what felt like the better part of the day (reliable sources have since informed me that it was more like 10 minutes), Mr. Sunglasses leans over to me and says “Mr. da Motta, why did you not look at either side of the intersections when we got to them?” I respond by saying that I was pretty sure that I did. He grunts, looks down at his paper, and begins the mathematical dilemma that is adding my points together. After a while he looks up at me with a facial expression that could only be described as deadpan. “Come on! Did I pass or not?” I exclaim, to which he grins and quietly responds: “Yes, Mr. da Motta, you have passed.” Oh the jubilation!

Getting my driver’s license proved to be a positive and a negative thing that year. It marked a dawning on my path to independence in which I could go where I wanted, when I wanted – so long as I did my Mom’s running around for her. A chore for her, it was a pleasure to me. Zipping along the side of the lagoon, AC/DC blasting from the new speakers I had recently installed, with friends filling up every nook and cranny as we headed to the beach. Driving was never so much fun. The negative side though, was that I was one of the first in my class to get a driver’s, and hence I ended up being the designated driver for the majority of the year.

Eating late night pies at the local garage with the boys whilst out on the town. Guess who was designated driver?

Whilst everyone else went out and partied up a storm, often I was the overly responsible person charged with ensuring everyone’s safety until they got home. Annoying at times, but fruitful at others. For example, I would often drive a bunch of blonde girls to and from town on Friday nights. My mom came to me one day and said “You realize that they’re using you right?” to which I responded “I arrive at a club, every Friday, with four to five blonde girls, with whom I leave again at the end of the night. Who’s using whom?”

At the end of the day, the humble car is such an important feature of our lives that I hardly feel that it could ever get enough praise from us. The day we invented the car was the day we were truly separated from the animal kingdom as superior beings. This is one of the reasons behind my starting this blog. I love everything about cars; the way they look, feel, smell, and even taste in particularly exciting cases. I’ve also tried to keep a regular blog in the past about myself, but I got bored with, er, myself. This, being a much more interesting topic, should prove to be a bit more successful.

With only my phone's camera at hand, I used to love snapping pictures of Patricia.

The most important reason though, is that I’m currently based in Hong Kong, a most exciting place to be. People who live in Hong Kong believe very much in the culture of “keeping face”, which means that everyone tries to have the latest version of whatever’s going, including cars. Often I have walked around the streets and seen the most remarkable pieces of engineering, my jaw dropping to the floor each time. You’d think then that there’d be a strong following of websites and blogs dedicated to the motoring industry in Hong Kong. There aren’t, not in English at any rate, and I haven’t found any in Chinese, come to think of it.

This blog will bring you motoring industry news, and I aim to do a “Car of the Week” segment for cars that I find in Hong Kong. Hopefully in the long term, I will be able to provide car reviews that I have conducted myself, but we’ll have to wait and see. Enjoy!


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