Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Saying "Good Bye" to the Ambassador (our car) in Kolkata

[I found this old post that I forgot to publish before we left Kolkata. We are currently trying to figure out what to do for transportation with a six month TDY in Falls Church, VA for language training, and then a three year post in Astana, Kazakhstan, so the topic is at the top of our minds...]

Although the pictures may look like a specimen from the History Detectives, above and below is the car title and registration for our (and others before us) Ambassador. Another reason to be fond of owning one in West Bengal. It reads like a passport for its decade plus service for those posted at the American Consulate.

From our brief experience in the Foreign Service, owning a car is tricky financially. The import rules for bringing in a car can change even after all the research and your orders, sometimes you can only bring right-hand drive cars into right-hand car countries, and the same with left-hand cars in left-hand car countries. It may be best to have a vehicle for rough terrain, a small car for congested city or no car for one with great public transportation and little parking.

The road of least resistance seems to be to buy when getting to post (or training in D.C.); and then selling when you leave a post. You may loose money or break even (not ever allowed to make a profit), so hopefully it evens out in the long run. Buying from another diplomat at post, American or another country, also seems to be the path of least resistance for registration and having it available soon after arrival.

As we head back to D.C. for training before Prague, we have decided to look for another Mazda 5 (our car in D.C. that we transferred the lease to another foreign service officer before we left for Kolkata) at either CarMax or Hertz Rent2Buy, even though it drives me crazy when "2" is used in that way. We will use the car in D.C. and then hopefully send to Prague (crossing fingers that the import rules don't change before then). Others have said that they have successfully purchased and then sold at Ballston Auto Center in Falls Church, when in long-term training in D.C.


Rinku Bhattacharya said...

I was so moved reading your posts on experiences in Kolkata/Calcutta. I am a Calcutta born migrant, mother of two American children who still misses home deeply. I am also the author of the The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles. I would LOVE to be able to send you a copy, would you please email me at Spicesandseasons@gmail.com

Natalie Buda Smith said...

Rinku - thanks so much for the comment! Congrats on your chronicles. I would love to see them in a blog. Have you ever considered publishing that way? Best of luck!