Maruti bags a Nano, but he’ll have to learn to drive first

MUMBAI, June 28, 2009 (AFP) – When Ratan Tata, the head of India’s Tata Motors, said the company was planning to build the world’s cheapest car, he could have had in mind Maruti Jaywant Bhandare as his ideal client. The first stop after picking up the car from the dealership will be the nearest temple to offer thanks to his favourite Hindu deity, the monkey god Hanuman, who is said to protect from evil spirits and curses.

“I bought the car on April 9 — Hanuman’s ‘jayanthi’ (anniversary), so it was auspicious,” he explained. He has also chosen a car in his lucky colour — yellow.

Once he has learnt to drive — no mean feat on the crowded, chaotic streets of Mumbai — he, his wife Anita and their two boys, Prem Kumar, 16, and 11-year-old Prem Das, will all use the car.

“My home town is about 520 kilometres (320 miles) from here. I go there once a year. So, when I get the car I will try to go at least once with it. Otherwise I will use it to go to temples,” he explained. The 42-year-old said he had been saving hard for seven years, squirreling away 50 rupees (one dollar) a day from his business mending shoes in a battered money box for a 60,000-rupee motorcycle.

But when Tata said the Nano wou