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Ambassador: Bully on wheels

Not sad about the demise of India’s most iconic car

I was born and raised in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh—India’s biggest state, by population. With more than 200 million people, the state of Uttar Pradesh is almost two thirds the size of the US population. As a capital city, Lucknow has been politically important for hundreds of years. It has produced several prime ministers for India. Lucknow is full of bureaucrats and politicians riding in their official cars—the Ambassador.

The white ambassadors with red or blue beacon lights and monstrous horns are everywhere. It has been very common to see roads being cleared to allow a fleet of twenty ambassador cars go through. Scared, helpless, and belittled pedestrians, cyclists, and people on scooters stood by the side of the road and watched the motorcade of this politician or that bureaucrat.

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Ambassador. Image credit: Tatiraju Rishabh

I have never been a fan of the ambassador car. Maybe it’s because I have always seen the car in a different light. It’s always reminded me of a bully—a big, fat, round steel structure on fat wheels, with a mean grin.

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In Lucknow, Ambassador cars can be seen parked in no-parking zones with their blue or red beacon lights flashing. The sight has always filled me with disgust.  I have memories of ambassador cars driving at our cycle rickshaw, filled with a dozen school kids. They jarred our ears with their horns that were loud enough to wake up a dead man. They snuck up from behind and grazed past our school bags and our legs dangling from the rickshaw. To some people they were cute, sturdy, durable, and a status symbol, but to me, they were monsters on the road.

While I’m glad that Ambassador cars will not be manufactured anymore, I am afraid that they will be replaced by even bigger vehicles.

Deepak Singh is a freelance journalist, radio producer, and a writer. He lives in South Bend, Indiana. Follow him here @deepakwriter

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