I grew up in an eastern Indian city which had few cars. My parents never had one; they were average middle-class educators. I do not remember ever feeling deprived: I went everywhere in public buses and trams. The ticket cost less than a US cent.
When I came out of the university, a large European company recruited me and within two years I was a well-heeled executive. I still patronized public transport. It was only when I started dating regularly, I began to feel less well-equipped than other executives who had cars. I longed for the privacy and easy mobility of a private car. So I saved and bought, for what seemed a princely sum, a previously owned Fiat. It had occasional problems, but on the whole it served me well.
Yet, in a short while, my sights changed. I longed for the proud ownership of a new car. Within a couple of years, I had saved enough to afford a brand-new Fiat. Fiat was one of the only two brands made in India then, and I didn't care for the other. I chose a striking new color the manufacturer had introduced that year, and it pleased me that others immediately recognized its newness.
The next time around I disregarded the importunings of my friends at the Mercedes and BMW dealerships. I went ahead and bought a previously owned modest compact Japanese car.