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Vivak's Lounge

January 21, 2023

Vivak's Lounge

I’m in Vivak’s lounge.


We’re sat at his dining table, it’s 11.09am and we’ve never met before.  Vivak and I have also actually never spoken before but he’s telling me about a children’s charity that he’s set up in South Delhi.  It’s a school, which is no surprise as he’s a school teacher specialising in mathematics.


I’m really here to buy a car.


If you recall the Baby Dragon (my last mini, so called as just before his demise there was a great deal of steam coming out of the front grill) died on the A27 in September.  It was Goodwood Revival weekend and at seventeen years old he was the most modern car broken down on the dual carriageway.  Surrounded by Jags, MG’s and other oldies that weren’t feeling too well (I’m talking about the cars, not the drivers) the Baby Dragon breathed his last and me and Mr TOYL have been sharing the truck ever since.


I wanted to get an electric Mini.  Eco, sensible, small – I don’t go far – but in recent weeks I’ve been put off.  The electric Mini seems to have a range of 150 miles, which is okay, but this can be halved if you’ve got the heater and radio on .  A car that can do about 80 miles before a recharge doesn’t seem terribly sensible, does it?


Not only that I’m hearing charging horror stories.  Friends who went from Essex to Reading and back but it can’t be done in one charge so they have to stop on the return journey only to find that the fast chargers are out of order so a re-charge takes three hours.  I don’t know about you but haven’t got either the will or three hours to sit in a service station on a Sunday night.  I also hear that because there is no fuel tax made by the Government on electric cars, they’re looking at how they can make that up with new taxes on eco vehicles.  Who knows?


Add in how confusing and fast-moving renewable energy is – I’m hearing about bio diesel or self charging cars – and I got completely confused by the whole thing and decided to wait for a few years and see what the landscape looks like then, which brings us back to Vivak’s lounge where I’m buying an eleven year old mini that he is selling.


I’m consoling myself that because the new mini (nicknamed JB after James Bond, bear with for the explanation) is eleven years old that actually, this is a fairly good act of recycling.  I’m not putting stress on mines for the chips that go in modern cars.  It’s like a trip to Oxfam for a frock, in my mind.


There are other benefits to JB. 


He’s been an extra at Pinewood for several years, appearing in Skyfall, we think.  Now, don’t get your hopes up.  I strongly suspect that he was in a car park or on a street scene that was very fleeting.  I wanted to rent the film but Mr TOYL argued (not unreasonably) that even though the film was £2.49 on Sky Box Office it would be back on the telly for free before we knew it and would give us something to look forward to.  He’s right.


However, the clincher for JB is Vivak.


Vivak used to teach the International Bacclareate (IB) exam syllabus across the Middle East. The IB isn’t like A Levels or GCSE’s where you get a chance to retake in the September if you mess up in June.  With the IB you have to repeat the whole two years so if you go down that route it is essential to pass all bits of it first time.  He was teaching a girl for whom maths wasn’t her strong suit.  Frankly, it’s not mine either and I remember my teacher asking me which bit I didn’t understand.  Well, if I knew that I’d understand it, so I thought he was silly to ask. 


Back to Vivak. 


He got the girl through here exam and her father was so thrilled he gave Vivak the keys to a building in South Delhi.


Vivak decided to open a school in the building.  He started with eighteen pupils and he’s up to fifty-nine this year.  He’s had to expand and for that he needs cash so how does he get that?  He sells cars in his spare time and the profits go into funding the school.


I’ve never heard of someone doing this before but here’s the thing.  We might look at the state of the country these days and wonder what the government is going to do about it, but we could all do our bit.  Vivak has built a school because it is close to his heart and that’s something he feels passionate about.  I’m passionate about social isolation – I think loneliness is one of the worst things that can happen to humans so I use some of my spare time in projects to help counter this.


I know, better than many of us, that sometimes we are strong enough to help others and sometimes not but when we are I think we have a responsibility to do so.  So, if you do feel strong enough, consider taking a small step towards making the world better.  Help someone with a heavy bag, say a few kind words, give a small donation, get involved.


We cannot expect our communities to get better if we don’t do our bit and I cannot think of anyone with more experience, kindness and wisdom to give than midlife women so have a think because here's something I know is true – the giver always gets more back than the receiver.

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