It’s amazing how a vehicle offers people a status symbol in Sri Lanka. This fact is underscored from the time a boy meets girl and the activities which lead to their wedding. We see how the possession of a ‘car’ gives an edge to potential grooms. This could be why it’s the dream of most single males to own car before they enter wedlock.
Countless are the stories about guys ending up in debt, unable to pay their car lease or being trapped into buying machines which aren’t roadworthy. The bold ones arrange a leasing scheme to pay for their newly acquired vehicles. A good number of them impress their girlfriends and future mother-in-laws, but after tying the knot they find paying lease and maintaining vehicles a heavy burden on their shoulders.
People who claim to belong to an aristocratic class inherit wealth and vehicles. Members of these families fancy identifying themselves with a certain vehicle. There was a time in Sri Lanka when the affluent were obsessed with the thought of owning a Mercedes Benz. Some vehicle enthusiasts still maintain old crocks and drive them during motor shows. But the Sri Lankan vehicle market is flooded with new vehicles imported under the class, luxury vehicles. The Benz no longer calls the shots, but the urge to be associated with a top brand in the vehicle market is greater than ever.
Sri Lanka’s politicians have made the urge to own more than one vehicle a fad. There was a time when we saw the convoy of any minister comprising more than 10 vehicles. The great speed at which these vehicles were driven and the VIP status these ministers enjoyed sowed the seed for the thought in the ordinary citizen’s mind that vehicles like Defenders, Prados and Double Cabs give the ordinary citizen a status symbol that spells the word ‘powerful’.
Little do people with large fleets of vehicles know that according to a survey done by the World Health Organization of South East Asia that Sri Lanka was placed third behind Indonesia (2) and Thailand (1) with a reading of 189.6 in the calculation how many people owned vehicles per 1,000 individuals. The period covered here in this research is from 2003-2013.
We saw at one time cars getting smaller and smaller as the engine capacity dropped from an average of 1200 CC to 660 CC. then we also saw three-wheeled cars, Nano Taxi and a small dynamite of an Indian vehicles with an engine capacity of 800 CC. But affording a vehicle in Sri Lanka still seems to remain a challenge when we witness the large number of old vehicles with numbers plates sporting the letter ‘Sri’ hitting the roads during weekends. Does this scene we witness during the weekends suggest that a good number of males starting life in a workplace are trying to become somebody too soon? Why can’t they work their way up the line of hierarchy and have patience till their place of employment grants them a company maintained vehicle?
An expat driving on Sri Lankan roads realizes how uncaring drivers can be in this island. Some of these drivers who extend no courtesy to other motorists drive around in luxury vehicles. However, a foreigner obtaining a driving experience on the island’s roads is soon perplexed how local motorists cooperate with each other in making aware that traffic cops are on the prowl by blinking lights and tooting horns.
Sri Lankans took great pride, over four decades ago, when they assembled the Upali Fiat. Now this accolade goes to Micro Cars for assembling a chosen brand of cars in the island. But despite the presence of a vehicle assembling plant operating Sri Lanka, it’s beyond the average Sri Lankan to own.
A good number of Sri Lankans modify their vehicles after acquiring them. This goes on to suggest that Sri Lankans aren’t the type to be contend with what they buy as vehicles. This could be one reason why there is a thinking pattern established among motor vehicle owners that an individual should change his vehicle every five years. The newer the vehicle, the more recognition an individual receives in public.
Whether it’s choosing a groom for your daughter or employing somebody with all the qualifications in the world for your organization, that choice would be easy as having your morning tea if you get the opportunity to see how a guy parks his vehicle in a parking lot.