The Bib­li­cal kombi

Go! Camp & Drive - - Trails -

Are you one of those peo­ple that hum along with nos­tal­gia when you hear the new kombi’s ad­ver­tis­ing jin­gle? For it brings back a flood of mem­o­ries.

Ire­cently caught my father and brother with their noses pressed against the win­dows of the new model kombi in a park­ing lot in Her­manus. They looked like love-struck school­boys. My dad has al­ways been a Volk­sie-man. The prob­lem was that, al­though my dad was mad about Volk­sies, they were not so mad about him. In all fair­ness, with four chil­dren in the house, shiny new cars weren’t ex­actly at the top of the pri­or­ity list, and most of the ve­hi­cles we had were rel­a­tively (cough, cough) “ex­pe­ri­enced” by the time they found them­selves parked in our drive­way. So, when our rust bucket of a Volk­sie sta­tion wagon had been driven to its lim­its, and my father grew tired of the fight­ing in the back seat over which two of the four of us chil­dren would get to sit by the win­dows, he came home one day with a kombi in­stead, and threw his arms tri­umphantly into the air. Be­cause, with two rows of seats for the pas­sen­gers, it meant that each kid could sit by their own win­dow in the kombi! It was a dream car, in creamy white with brown quasi-leather seats. Be­sides that, I and my older sis­ter won the draw with my brothers, get­ting the ex­clu­sive rights to sit on the back seat. Yay! to start hum­ming the jin­gle of the Volk­swa­gen ad­vert and to end it here, with a pic­ture of re­laxed and happy fam­ily hol­i­days deep in the bun­dus. But the truth was that the creamy white dream car was an an­cient, crip­pled night­mare of a ve­hi­cle. It of­ten broke down. And in ac­cor­dance with Mur­phy’s Law, it never broke down at a con­ve­nient spot. We found our­selves stuck at ev­ery think­able (and un­think­able) place. Three Sis­ters in the Karoo. The Kruger Park. Golden Gate. Sir Lowry’s Pass. And that was in the days be­fore cell­phones. But my dad was a duct-tape-and-Coke-me­chanic (the Coke was sprin­kled over the bat­tery when the con­tact points had packed up and needed to be cor­roded clean – and it worked, which makes one worry about the con­di­tion of a Coke-drinkers stom­ach). But even th­ese crises couldn’t dampen his en­thu­si­asm. My dad was be­sot­ted with that un­re­li­able kombi, even when the En­gel­brechts, like the Is­raelites of old, reg­u­larly ar­rived at a place ei­ther with a pil­lar of smoke or a pil­lar of fire. The last straw was when my older sis­ter had to go to univer­sity at Maties, and on that first Sun­day af­ter­noon, the Kombi packed up with a spec­tac­u­lar ball of smoke, a good dis­tance away from her res­i­dence. We had to carry all her first-year bag­gage the last halfk­ilo­me­tre to the res. You should have seen the house com­mit­tee’s faces! (In fact, she was so trau­ma­tised by this event that she kept study­ing un­til she be­came an on­col­o­gist). That night, af­ter we saw the new model kombi for the first time in the park­ing lot in Her­manus, my brother mum­bled to him­self, won­der­ing whether he could af­ford the new model be­cause he “wants to show his three kids the coun­try.” I could see how he was do­ing the sums in his mind. Well, at least Volk­swa­gen hit the nail on the head with their ad­ver­tis­ing slo­gan: “For jour­neys to re­mem­ber.” Be­cause when you drive a kombi, an un­for­get­table jour­ney is guar­an­teed.

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