Vanity numbers

Many people are willing to pay exorbitant sums of money to get the numberplate of their choice for their fancy cars. But to others, this seems like squandering money

Imagine an English bulldog dressed in a charming outfit. He’s wearing shoes, his collar is a Ruff wear, while his coat is shiny as he comes straight out of a spa. His teeth are clean, and his ears too. Everyone on the street is gazing at this dog, who is walking on the street not knowing that this might be a reflection of the ostentatious nature of its owner and a deliberate act to display their wealth and status.

Now juxtapose this description with an expensive sedan. How are the dog and the car related? Well, just like a well-groomed dog, a shiny car with a fancy number also garners the same amount of attention. The car has nothing to do with the unsettling nature of the owner, but then somehow only the car will be an object of envy.

Such is the case with lavish cars that run on the streets of Delhi and across the country. The owners have a compelling urge to get numberplates with digits like 0001 that have a hefty price tag of Rs 5 lakh. But this is just the base price for the bidding — in some cases a coveted number has fetched more than Rs 15 lakh.

Numbers like 0010 to 0099, and some numbers like 1111 and 7777, demand car owners to spend a bidding price of Rs 2 lakh.

While these are the popular numbers which are in demand almost all the time, ”There are other numbers too, that demand a hefty price, even though they are not popular. This is the case for those owners who believe in numerology and astrology,” says a transport department official who does not wish to be named.

He adds, “During the auction most of the popular numbers like 1111 and others are taken in no time, while the rest of the numbers are sold in some time, depending on the demand.”

He also tells that some people pay five times of the original bidding price just to get the number they want. Even though it is good for the government, it is interesting to delve into what this culture really implies, apart from showcasing muscle power and vanity.

The craze in Delhi and its neighbouring cities, like Faridabad, Gurgaon and Noida, has been high for these numbers. Earlier this was the case only for cars, but recently the transport department announced that two-wheelers in the Capital can also opt for such fancy numbers. Now the bike owners can also boast and enjoy the fascination that comes with this number game.

Since these numbers are now being auctioned online, it brings transparency to the system, but it will not be a shocker, if a middle man tries to take advantage of this situation, just like they do with railway and fight tickets.

I remember how a boy in my college — a brat belonging to a very rich family in the city —brought an Audi Q7. Along with the extravagance, came a VIP number. While that grabbed the attention of most of the people present in the parking lot that day, it also raised a question in my mind — what’s the point of this number game? What does it really mean?

Some people say that it also lets you drive past a checkpoint easily, while some believe that keeping a specific number can bring prosperity.

I’m a non-believer in that theory. Even when we brought our first car, more than the sight of the car, my neighbours were more concerned about the numberplate.

A lady came running to us, right after greeting, she said, “You have no idea how lucky number 9 is.” This didn’t really register in my mind, so I asked her what she meant..

Then she added the digits on our number plate, and the sum total was 9. Although our family never believed in numerology or astrology per se, the excitement among our neighbours instilled a sense of confidence in my family members.

Not only did it make me introspect my family’s inclination towards numerology, it also established a fear in my mind — that from now on, they will also seek a number of their choice and also pay a substantial amount of money for it, which doesn’t make any sense to me.

It’s not just 0001 or 1111 numbers which excite people. In case of Lucknow, the number 2020, had many takers. The base price for this number was Rs 3,000. So much was the demand that one person paid 26 times its original cost.

For some people like me, this is just a way of showing off, but for some, having the ‘right’ number at the front and the back of their super car (and now bikes) is a game of numerology, which only they and their pundits understand.

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