Elephant Droppings

Friday, October 14, 2005

Deadly Vehicles

I was in the car with Zhang, one of the guys in my work group -- I had to drop off my car at the dealer's for some maintenance work, and Zhang was giving me a ride back to work.

Zhang had mentioned earler that he was planning to buy a minivan, a necessity here in the States when the number of children exceeds one.

Now, one trait that the Indians ("Desis", in Indian slang) and the Chinese share is their affinity for Japanese-made cars. Every Indian guy I know own a Toyota, Honda, or a Nissan. Of course, once they come into some moolah, these are replaced by cars from BMW, Mercedes, or Lexus. A sure sign of an Indian- or Chinese-dominated community is the rows and rows of Accords, Camris, Altimas, and their ilk.

So coming back to the thread, I asked Zhang whether he had decided on any model. Considering Zhang's ethnicity, the contenders were Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, and Nissan Quest. He told me he is leaning more towards the Odyssey, a cavernous vehicle which will never fit into the Indian roads. Though generally a hater of minivans, I was a bit partial towards the Quest. I mean if I were looking at the business end of a gun barrel and had to pick one of these minivans or lose my life, I would have chosen the Quest so to speak. Basically, Quest is the sleeker looking among the above pachyderms. So I asked Zhang why he was not considering the Q.

His answer surprised me. He said the Chinese people generally avoid buying Nissan vehicles. In Chinese, apparently "Nissan" sounds eerily similar to a phrase/word meaning "You are dead"! Among the various Nissan models, Altima is considerd the worst because in Chinese there is an unpleasant exclamation (similar to "Ayyo" in Malayalam, I guess) that sounds exactly like Altima.

This reminded me of my classmate from the college years, "Motta" (egghead). Motta's parents promised to buy him a motorcycle when he got admission for engineering. He had his heart set on a Yamaha RX100 (we are talking 1980's here). At the last moment, just before purchase, his grandmother threw a wrench into the works -- since "Yamaha" is "yama ha" ie the Hindu God of Death, she said Motta couldn't buy that. No amount pleading from Motta could change her mind. Finally, he had to settle for a Hero Honda.


  • 'Yamaha' - I guess you ask someone about the latest 'Cadbury - Perk' ad on TV back home, Papa Mahout !

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:45 AM, October 15, 2005  

  • Whenever Dasettan chants "Namaha" (instead of namah:) I get reminded of Yamaha..

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:38 AM, October 16, 2005  

  • So the Chinese are superstitious like us? Lovley post!

    By Blogger silverine, at 1:52 PM, October 19, 2005  

  • anonymous-I and anonymous-II -> I must be a moron since I was not able to decipher your comments :(

    silverine -> Yup, very much. You must have heard of feng shui, right? The Chinese are so feng shui conscious that in our office, getting an office room is a big, complicated procedure. Many people don't even want to move to a bigger and nicer room if the feng shui is not right.

    By Blogger പാപ്പാന്‍‌/mahout, at 12:16 PM, October 21, 2005  

Post a Comment

<< Home