Driven: Fiat 500 Abarth

It’s a miracle that India still holds elections. It’s a miracle that India somehow has a government. It’s a miracle that Indians somehow lead lives without always having the threat of a terror attack or a military coup. It’s a miracle that Indian roads and infrastructure don’t always collapse into themselves. India has a lot of madness.

But amidst all that, there is some method that keeps things going. In Ranjangaon, the home of Fiat in India, I could see what makes India tick. I saw it at a tea stall at 9 in the night over a little glass of one cutting. A girl, in her teens or pre-teens, presumably the tea-shop owner’s daughter, was sitting with folded legs on the shop floor in front of a cooking stove. She was stirring the pot of hot tea with her right hand while reading a school book placed on her lap, using a portable emergency light illuminating the pages. She is the epitome of how things work in India. We always make more out of less. And the less we have, the more determined we are to make more of it.

It’s why Fiat made the 500 in 1957. It was a car that had to make the maximum out of the minimum. And it did. It was the Maruti 800, the Beetle, the Mini of Italy. And they resurrected it in 2007. What? No. It’s not the car that will resurrect Fiat in India. If anybody is telling you that, ignore them.