Lancer is a class apart - it is very comfortable and feels just
as refined as it looks."
being born in a family of car lovers, she first took to the wheel of a
car only after she got married. And she has been hooked ever since. This
interview almost didn't happen. On a fine winter afternoon in Delhi, I
called up Nafisa to confirm my appointment with her for later in the day.
But to my despair, the former Miss India, national swimming champion,
model, actress, socialite and social worker (whew!) tells me she doesn't
want to do the interview any more. Brows sweating, I plead to know why.
There's a Cielo and a small little Zen for my personal use. The Zen is a
nice peppy car, very easy and fun to drive. The Cielo feels just a tad heavy,
but nothing unbearable. It's quite comfortable. But obviously the Lancer
is a class apart. It is just too pretty to pass over whenever I get the
chance. It is very very comfortable and feels just as refined as it looks.
I can listen to mushy love ballads without being disturbed. There's a lot
of space, and packing the entire family is a breeze. Sometimes, the dogs
hip in the back. I believe the Lancer is very safe too. Thankfully though,
no opportunity has come up as of date to test its safety capabilities!
"You said you'll meet me at two o'clock, an it's nearly 4pm now.
It wasn't nice to wait," she said in her innocent, yet fiery manner."
Suddenly it dawns upon me what must have happened. While fixing up the
appointment for 4pm (honest), I had said that I'll confirm it at 2pm.
Clearly, a miscommunication on our part!
Anyway, after profuse apologies and a quick explanation of what must have
happened, I find myself being greeted at her beautiful home (by six dogs
- the French bulldog scared the life out of me.)
So, is Nafisa Ali 'the driver' as fiery on the road as she is with auto-journalists?
"I'll be honest with you. The driver in me actually didn't take off
till I got married. My brother Niyaz being the only son, was totally spoilt
by my father, and was driving from the age of seven. He later went onto
become a part-time racing driver, and in fact, brought out India's first
auto magazine called Cars In Action. My father would say that driving
is not for girls. And that just made me even more eager to do something
great, to stand out and be noticed by my father more than anybody else."
That would explain the swimming champion and Miss India!
"After I got married, my husband taught me how to drive. I think
I'm a pretty decent driver. In fact, I'd love to race. I guess it runs
in the blood. If I had money, I'd buy something indecently fast a Corvette
or even a Lamborghini."
So, which is the car in Nafisa's life?
"Well, the family car is of course the Lancer.
My husband and I are very gentle with the car. We drive without overtly
revving the engine, or murdering the gearbox like my brother does, or things
like that. In fact, we are so sensitive to our cars, specially the Lancer,
that if something is going wrong, we can tell simply by listening to the
sounds that the car make."
On driving in Delhi...
"Well, after having lived in pretty much every part of the country,
I can vouch that driving in Delhi is a treat compared to any other big city.
The roads are big, and though people are a lot less rule abiding, the good
roads compensate for that. Of late, however too many flyovers have meant
a lot of bottlenecks at the end of them, which is not exactly what we had
bargained or. What I am really concerned about, is the rising number of
cases of drunken driving. Something needs to be done, and needs to be done
So would the car-loving celebrity allow her daughters to drive, considering
that she was denied it for a long time?
"Of course. I don't want them to miss out on a simple pleasure of life.
But I made it clear that when they are 18 and have a licence, they can have
the keys to the cars." .