BE­HIND THE WHEEL

Our se­nior writer finds that his prag­matic side has grown to ri­val his emo­tional side as he gets older.

Torque (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - JEREMY CHUA JEREMY HAS GOT­TEN MORE PRAG­MATIC WITH AGE, BUT HIS WIFE SAYS THAT OUT­SIDE OF WORK, HE HAS THE EMO­TIONAL MA­TU­RITY OF A 16-YEAR-OLD.

BE­COM­ING in­de­pen­dent was one of the most im­por­tant life lessons I’ve learnt. My child­hood mem­o­ries are filled with nu­mer­ous in­stances of my mum say­ing that I needed to learn to do ev­ery­thing on my own as soon as pos­si­ble.

Like many par­ents, she did not want me to rely on her or any­one else to do things that I should be do­ing my­self, such as chores and er­rands.

She also stressed the im­por­tance of mak­ing my own (hope­fully cor­rect) de­ci­sions and stick­ing to them.

Nat­u­rally, this led to nu­mer­ous ar­gu­ments (many of which were quite triv­ial) dur­ing my teenage years. On the one hand, I was sup­posed to make my own de­ci­sions, but on the other hand, she is still my mum and I was liv­ing un­der her roof. Along with be­com­ing in­de­pen­dent, I learnt to be prag­matic, too. I’ve al­ways tried to adopt the most sen­si­ble ap­proaches with ev­ery­thing I do. But I threw my prag­ma­tism out the win­dow when I ven­tured into the world of au­to­mo­tive jour­nal­ism. I had not only joined a niche in­dus­try (print), but a dy­ing one, too.

And be­cause I’m in­dulging in my pas­sion, my spouse earns a lot more than I do. Talk about her be­ing my bet­ter half.

How­ever, I can’t say that I’m not paid a de­cent wage, be­cause this job has en­abled me and my wife to af­ford an HDB flat and live quite com­fort­ably. But at the same time, I am aware that if I had utilised my de­gree and pur­sued a ca­reer in bank­ing/fi­nance, my garage would al­ready be filled with those clas­sic cars that I’m still dream­ing of to­day. The money is cer­tainly tempt­ing. But I know that such a ca­reer would ul­ti­mately be un­sat­is­fy­ing.

I’ve loved cars since I was a tod­dler. But af­ter turn­ing 38 this year, I re­alised that some of the emotionality I as­so­ci­ate with cars and driv­ing has given way to practicality and con­ve­nience. Take the man­ual gear­box, for ex­am­ple. Two decades ago, I in­sisted that only cars with man­ual trans­mis­sions were worth driv­ing.

It didn’t mat­ter if they were reg­u­lar run­abouts or coupes – if it didn’t have a man­ual ‘box, I wasn’t in­ter­ested.

To­day, I can­not bring my­self to feel the same way. As much as I love the ab­so­lute con­trol that a man­ual car gives me, it is nei­ther prac­ti­cal nor re­ward­ing in light of the road con­di­tions I must face daily. Apart from bumper-to­bumper traf­fic, I also have to deal with road works and road hogs. What is the point of a man­ual gear­box if I’m lim­ited to first and sec­ond gear ev­ery morn­ing and evening?

A die-hard en­thu­si­ast will de­clare that it’s the only way to drive, and that I can al­ways en­joy such a car on week­ends and late nights.

True. But the traf­fic never seems to let up around my area, no mat­ter the time of day. And it doesn’t make sense to have a man­ual car that can only be en­joyed on week­ends. Then there are hy­brid au­to­mo­biles. Once upon a time, I’d never have con­sid­ered get­ting one. The thought of driv­ing to work in a quiet and eco-friendly ve­hi­cle was ab­hor­rent to me.

To­day, a petrol-elec­tric hy­brid is some­thing I wouldn’t mind own­ing. When­ever I’m idling in traf­fic, I’m lit­er­ally burn­ing my hard-earned moolah as I inch to­wards my next petrol kiosk visit. The oil com­pa­nies must be de­lighted.

Hy­brids might be un­ex­cit­ing, but they would def­i­nitely save me quite a bit of money. I’m not buy­ing a Toyota Prius, though. I pre­fer the Hyundai Ioniq, which is rel­a­tively more fun to drive.

Speak­ing of the Ioniq, I re­cently drove its “cousin”, the Kia Niro. Af­ter a week­end with it, I re­alised that I was open to the idea of own­ing a cross­over, as long as it is hatch­back-like.

But if you think that my prag­matic side will even­tu­ally dom­i­nate my emo­tional side, you are dead wrong. Be­cause re­main­ing in the motoring me­dia in­dus­try and work­ing for this mag­a­zine prove that I’m still ruled by my heart, not my head.

AF­TER TURN­ING 38, I RE­ALISED THAT SOME OF THE EMOTIONALITY I AS­SO­CI­ATE WITH CARS AND DRIV­ING HAS GIVEN WAY TO PRACTICALITY AND CON­VE­NIENCE.

The prac­ti­cal as­pects of a car are more im­por­tant to Jeremy these days than the emo­tional as­pects, but he doesn’t need an on-board kitch­enette just yet.

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