Big fat Indian shaadis now have big, long limos to take the tearful bride away.
Los Angeles and stretch limousines are almost synonymous. Years of watching television images showing the rich and famous alighting at the Oscars and the Grammys have reinforced the connection. Hollywood's favourite ride has now caught the fancy of Indians. And where else would these long beauties make their appearance but at the big, fat Indian wedding?
A Mercedes or a BMW 7 series used to be the car of choice when it came to taking the tearful bride away. But now the top spot has gone to the Chrysler 300c Stretch Limousine, fast becoming the most sought-after wedding car in the market today. There are few things better than stepping out of a 28-footlong limo to make you feel like a star on your big day.
Dhillon Singh, vice-president (sales & marketing) at BNP Paribas Mumbai, says he wanted to do something different for his wedding in Delhi - something that would stop the traffic. And he did, with his silver grey Chrysler stretch limousine.
Dhillon, who lived in London before moving to India, didn't expect to find a stretch limo here. "I'm from London, where they are a far more common sight. But a friend told me that I could get one for my wedding and I think mine was the first wedding where the car was used, " says Singh.
On his big day, Singh set out with ten of his family and friends in the limo which boasted leather seats, a shiny ceiling with fibre optic stars, LED lighting, three 10" LCD monitors and a well-stocked bar. "We had drinks and snacks on the way and after the wedding, my wife and I went around the city for a drive. It was an amazing experience, " Singh added.
From weddings to special days isn't too much of a stretch. Aditya Loomba, director, ECO Rent-a-car - the firm that owns the only two Chrysler limos in India, has introduced the American concept - of hiring a limo for special occasions. "The idea is to have a memorable experience, " says Loomba, who has one Chrysler limo each in Delhi and Mumbai.
Memorable it certainly was for Samarth Chadha who got together with six friends and forked out Rs 24, 000 to hire a limo for a period of four hours. The sight of the car had valets rushing to open doors for them. "It made us feel like celebrities, " Chadha laughed. "At every traffic signal, people turned around and pointed at the car. It was a great night. " And for a 22-year-old, the limo passed the ultimate test of cool. It got him noticed.
"Delhi has a love for showing off", is Loomba's explanation.
The four-hour nightlife package will set you back by Rs 30, 000 while a wedding package starts at Rs 51, 000 for four hours for a decorated limousine.
For those who want to party like a king but don't want to pay too much, there's a more economical option. Presidential Wheels may not have limos but they do have an unusual party vehicle. Their Funk Wagon has been used for bachelorette parties, birthday celebrations and even ferrying around corporate honchos.
Sahdev Goil, a BBA who cut his teeth at Audi and Mercedes before investing in his own start-up, Presidential Wheels, sends out the Funk Wagon at least thrice a week.
At Rs 9, 000 for eight hours or 110 kilometres, it gets you the eyeballs for less. Apart from the prerequisites - luxurious seats, entertainment system, LED lighting, a bar and fridge - Presidential Wheels also offers its clients a security officer.
"We have a lot of female clients who hire the wagon for a night of partying and we send a security officer to make sure they have a trouble free ride, " Goil explained.