In love with the Beetle
It’s always nice to move ahead with a common sense of purpose, share the same interest, and find a merging point for diverse minds. Differ we may in our opinions, but when it comes to this exceptionally ‘common’ love of ours, all hitches are quickly quashed, and a united journey is flagged off promising greater fun.
Quite a number of folks have been brought together by sharing a love for a particular riding machine. Having been here for sometime, watched by others, they feel their
legacy will also be passed on to the coming generations. We are, of course, talking about some in our midst who are in love with that very cute car that many of us call the Beetle.
“Being an old vehicle, Beetle is confined to few groups of people. But those who have it, simply love it. It’s a common language we speak,” shares a smiling Gopal Kakshyapati, president of the Association of Nepal Beetle Users’ Group (ANBUG), a Beetle lovers’ group, which presently consists of 45 regular members.
ANBUG was officially formed in June 2005, while their Volkswagen rallies were organised a few years prior to that under the initiation of an Australian lady Suzan Fowell to raise funds for cleft and palate operation of needy people.
The club was formed to make the user’s group more organised and better regulated. The rallies conducted also served to regain the declining popularity of the Beetle.
“As the car had almost become extinct, we re-conditioned it and formed the Bug’s club - not ours, but the Bug’s,” clarifies another Beetle lover Padam Ghale, a tourism entrepreneur. “And when this happened, even those who had limited their cars to the garages, started bringing them out into the open,” he says.
He goes on to add, “Even before this, we used to drive up to the surrounding hills of the Valley, and have great times together. There we listened to the songs of Beatles to refresh our old memories.”
The Beetle, a Volkswagen vehicle, was made during the Nazi era, and was meant to be a ‘people’s’ car - affordable, joyous and strong. The car, with air-cooled boxer engine, reportedly saw its foray into Nepal through the Germans themselves who were visiting the country after 1950s, riding all the way from their home country. Since then it has become a machine of passion for many here.
“The more we drive the car, the more we are urged to drive. This car is something that immediately forges a link between its users — like when two Sardarjis meet,” shares Subodh D Shrestha, another board member of ANBUG, with a chuckle.
“When I look back at my younger days, I think I really had a good time with the car. It has offered great friendship and company,” Kakashyapati shares. “My love for it will never end,” he adds on an emotional note.
To make their journeys meaningful, the funds ANBUG raises from their rallies still go towards various
social causes, apart from the regular cleft and palate operation. And they plan to contribute more by undertaking longer journeys.
“This September we plan to venture to Sikkim if everything goes right. But we would love to visit more international destinations in the days to come, including home of the Beetle — Germany,” Kakshyapati informs.
And Ghale adds, “It is my dream to go to Lhasa, cutting through the high passes to honour the car. In my view, the car has not travelled that high till now. It’s difficult, of course, but together we can definitely make it happen.”
The people driving the Beetle belong to diverse sectors, yet are bound together by the tender love they share for the car, and a true social cause that they feel is their utmost obligation. Of course, problems do crop up time and again, but where passion is involved, nothing else matters.