It is past midnight. Smog softens the street lights. Drums start to beat in my brain.
I turn the key, light the petrol and smash pedal into metal. The engine roars, tyres neigh and 158 Horses of the Apocalypse thunder down like a sudden nocturnal invasion, leaving the streets shaking with fear and longing.
On south Mumbai's tony Pedder Road, a great Indian dream seems to have lit up the night. Cars are circling, like growling vultures with electric eyes, waiting for the Hit...
For, as the legend goes, it is at the hour of the undead that an Aston Martin is taken out and driven breathlessly by The Ghost Who Rides, The Guardian Of The Eastern Dark. Apparently, cars, like champion stallions, also need exercise. At night.
Any car the almighty Aston touches, grazes, nicks or upends during its dash through the dark, receives the keys to a brand new Audi. Somewhat like a souped up Sai Baba hurling miraculous golden necklaces at people, for no fault of theirs.
Supercars, Superspin, Supermen...
When Lord Ram went for a longish walk in the woods, brother Bharat placed His sandals on the throne. The Divinity’s sandals were equal to the Lord Himself.
By similar divine anthropomorphism, the Top Management’s Aston Martin is treated like the Top Management Himself - Exec. Vice Chairman Sir Aston Martin has a thing to it. This is not unusual. Top dogs in the police’s canine force have proper cop designations. Accordingly, the car is followed by two swish Honda CRV pilot vehicles even though Top Management is nowhere near the car.
The Holy Grail of upward mobility is to be blindsided by the Aston Martin. But competition is fierce, and people are willing to settle for being thumped by the Honda CRVs for a new Maruti.
Optimistic experts from the pink papers see this as the kind of economic intervention that could single-handedly drive up the GDP. Deficit financing with Audis is deficit financing with a differential. At best, some German auto loans will remain unpaid. But Kalahandi will get rich selling Audi spare parts (as against their own spare parts). Since German Auto, like US Auto, is too big to fail, this is fool-proof theory. Worst case scenario: Germany will short Italy and Greece, which really isn’t any of our problem.
As in all things great, there is a small hitch. One supercar at a time, the country won’t change fast enough. To be an extra-Audinary country, we need more. Enter, stage left, the Aam Audi Party. Its big bang solution: line up cars on Pedder Road far as the eye can see. The Aston Martin knock will then have mass impact, with cars colliding like dominos, transforming the economy in one fell swoop.
Benefits will trickle down even to grimy pedestrians, who will happily shed a litre of blood for the Fast Family (collateral damage from flying auto shrapnel), if it will get them full medical insurance for life.
The effects of such grand gestures are far-reaching, going beyond economics and politics, and even revamping our fecal criminal-justice system. The Penal Code will be transformed into a non-judgmental Penal Price List, where everybody benefits from a swift compensation system that doesn't ask silly questions about where the money is coming from, so long as it's going somewhere. The recipient gets taxed, the court gets a revenue share, and that, as they say, is that.
This wonderful intercourse of the State, Church and the Law is not without precedent. In the 15th Century, the Catholic Church would sell Indulgencies as remission of punishment for Sin. St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome was built this way. Today, we would at least be able to turn Mumbai into pan-stained Shanghai.
Each court will be a SBU (Strategic Business Unit), and a Judge's bonus will depend on the revenues he generates. While the Judge has an interest in awarding higher damages, he also needs to ensure that the case doesn't slip away in appeal to a higher court, as then he stands to lose. Thus, he has an imperative to square matters fairly at his level.
Since culpability is fungible, an exchange will develop where punters can take positions on the damages to be awarded. It may be safe to say that damages will broadly be inversely proportional to the repo rate (assuming a high repo rate is a bear market). So, if you've been meaning to commit a crime, now may be a good time to do so.
With such shiny economic, judicial and political systems, we will have ourselves a gleaming new country, redolent of supercars. We will get high inhaling an Audi here, exhaling an S-Class there. Snotty Superpowers will genuflect before us, and meekly stand by when our peerless diplomats roast their maids at aptly named consular get to-get-hers.
But I get ahead...
Cars are circling Pedder Road. People are edgy with anticipation. Suddenly, the wild wail of tyres and a flash of supernatural steel, as if the Dark Arts had unleashed a mega-machine. People roar, engines rev. Apocalypso is coming!
Postscript: last week, Audi launched the new RS, its most expensive yet… just a coincidence? Or have the wheels already started rolling…?