Be-CAR Again!

Posted November 16th, 2002 by Deepa and filed in Personal
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I am not a superstitious person. But I was convinced that my car is jinxed.

The very first time I took it to the parking lot in Charlottesville , the tire gave away with a loud bang…loud enough to make me think the whole car was about to blow up. So there we were ..Subha ( the nervous instructor who was more scared that Atha would yell at her than the fact that we were all alone in a deserted parking lot miles away from other people…with a broken down vehicle) and me ( feeling half smug and with an “I knew it” expression…always knew that cars=trouble).
I should have known then that was just the beginning..and disowned the car pronto but foolish me chose to believe the soothing words mouthed by people far less percipient than me.

It behaved beautifully for a few more days allowing me to get on with the farce of learning driving and acquiring a permit to display my skills to the unfortunate people in Virginia. But it started its mischief soon after when Subha,Atha,Seejo and myself went on a drive to nearby Scotsville and drove itself straight into the welcoming arms of Bambi. Now some might blame the deer for sauntering across the road at that moment but me: i know better…It was another of da car’s effort to make my life more exciting. In the process it managed to wreak its hood, and a few other of its body parts and making me spend good money trying to make it in a running condition.
I should have disowned it in the mechanics shop then but i was stupid enough to listen to the so called experts( read Atha and Seejo) and bought that contraption back home.

To be fair to the car all its antics were not major ones. There were also a few minor scares in the next couple of months like some of its innards falling off on the road during a casual drive ( which we stashed away in the boot deciding that if the car runs without it, it probably does not need it), some weird noises emanating after it acheived a certain speed and other sundry things. The radio stopped one day and then them some rubber linings of the window joined the metal part in the boot.
I should have tried to sell it at that moment but I was naive enough to listen to Atha who said that these were minor troubles a second hand car brings and that the car still runs well enough.

I finished my graduation,got a job,shifted to Maryland. I managed to drive to work for a few days before it was upto its old tricks again…And the car is intelligent enough to choose the right day to perform its mischief. One rainy evening when i was trying to drive home…the darkness and rain already made driving a big challenge when the front right wheel decided enough was enough and got itself punctured leaving me stranded on the road…I dragged the car to a nearby parking lot and waited for Seejo to get me home
I should have removed the license tag and dumped the car right there but I was gullible enough to get fooled by Seejo ’s observations that it would be illegal and irresponsible to do that and his promise to fix the wheel

Finally called AAA and towed the car to Seejo ’s apartment and left it there till the weekend to repair the wheel. But some intelligent management person was appalled by the anesthetics of the car and thought (rightly too) that with a mangled hood and punctered tire the car was in no state to be driven and very kindly asked the towers to tow it far far away….I know the car wanted to get itslef towed away…don ‘t ask me for logic..just put it down to the famous feminine intuition!!
Which meant i had to go to the junk yard on Monday morning, help Seejo fix the flat tire ( it joined the rest of the innards in the boot: more parts of the car seemed to be in the boot than ON the car), and PAY 118$ to get the car out of the towing people.
I should have said “to hell with the money , you can keep the car”, but I was moronic enough to think that the car befitted a better death.

I decided that the car had given me nothing but trouble and it was time to dispose off the car. Luckily, there appeared a buyer on the scene….an laid off from work software professional who had just got a new job and had no money at all….Sold my car for half the money that i bought it for…bad tire,broken hood and all…. Now let that poor guy suffer….

As for me i am carfree and carefree again!!

Close Encounters Of the Deer Kind

Posted April 13th, 2002 by Deepa and filed in Personal
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On Friday evening as I was walking towards the bus stop, it struck me that it was already the weekend. Fridays generally being my turn to cook I was trying to recollect the contents of my refrigerator to decide what delicacy I should prepare. It was then I realized that I had no topic to write for my weekend mail. It had been a most boring week. Mark had not acted weirdly (no more than usual that is!) and we did not have any sightseeing trips planned. Absolutely uneventful.

I made aloo matar and cabbage for dinner. Seejo turned up in the evening with a few slices of cake that he had baked. The dinner gang settled down to the serious business o eating and seeing a movie. The weekend selection was “Yeh Raaste hai Pyaar ke”. Everybody praised Seejo’s cooking skills and oohed and aahed over his cake. Seejo was thrilled. Buoyed by the success he decided to make dinner the next day. On Saturday by the time Seejo gathered the required ingredients for his culinary venture it was part noon and hunger pangs were beginning to make themselves known. Atha suggested A tiny restaurant in Scottsville called Lumpkins ( Aparna do you remember that?) .They had good country  food which was cheap, the drive to that place was  beautiful especially now that Spring had begun. And the icing on the cake (for Atha and Seejo) was that the waitresses there were young and pretty.

We had two cars since both the guys decided that there were too tall to squeeze themselves into the backseat of my car. I was driving and Seejo was navigating my car. I have mentioned in my earlier mails that driving with Seejo is no pleasure. Each move I make is scrutinized and dissected and analyzed and it always turns out that I made a wrong decision. But it was a beautiful warm Spring day and the weather was perfect , the scenery was beautiful and the winding turning road made it a great drive.

We reached Lumpkins, filled our tummies with a lot of food and fresh country made bread. I had that wonderful feeling you get when you are so stuffed and you realize all you need is a cosy sofa and a book in your hand. I magnanimously offered Seejo the car keys telling him ” I know you are itching to drive..so here take the keys”. It turned out to be the best decision I have ever made in my life.

For hardly had we left the restaurant and started on the road , there were a couple of deer standing by the wayside. Now that not being a deer infested are there were no warning signs or symbols so we were doing a happy 55mph. However this deer decided that traffic or no traffic I am going to jaywalk and it bounded across the road. Seejo jammed the brakes. The deer managed to reach the other end. Unfortunately there was a couple of other deer behind who decided to follow their adventurous friend. This second deer leaped across the road just as Seejo slammed the breaks. The deer landed on the bonnet of the car, bounced off it and landed on the windshield and then ricocheted off and flew high upto ~ 10feet and then landed somewhere far away on a nearby field where we could not see it! Atha and Subha were lucky enough to enjoy a once in a lifetime sight of a flying deer!

The windshield was smashed into smithereens; there was a shower of glass splinters inside the car. The deer caused a huge dent on my car bonnet, mangled the front of my car, wrecked the front light assembly and broke the coolant and water containers. Fortunately we escaped unhurt. We pulled the car into a nearby field. Someone had called the cops so within minutes an officer arrived on the scene and started completing the formalities. Some other travelers told us that the deer was heaving somewhere and they had called some people to take care of the injured deer. The officer arranged for a tow truck to tow my car.

Standing there waiting for the tow truck  to arrive we had some time to think back over what happened. Suddenly there were a lot of “what if ??” questions.

What if Seejo had hit the brakes a second late. The deer would have probably hit the passenger door instead of the bonnet and would have resulted in either killing me if it had managed to get his hoofs inside ( there was an article  on fatal injuries  caused by deer recently in a local newspaper: it said that most of the injuries were caused because the deer gets his front legs trapped inside the car and so it thrashes the legs about killing the driver/passenger in the process)

If we had escaped that it would have certainly ended in overturning the car. With the momentum of the vehicle and the weight of the deer (~ 130 pounds) . It was a tall deer about the height of my car.

What if I had been driving . Again there were two possibilities .Since my reflexes are not that quick (read absent) we would have quickly turned into past tense. Or if we took the optimistic view, with my speed the deer would have easily managed to cross the road before my car reached that spot.

Anyway we had a lucky escape.

And we didn’t even get the deer. Apparently according to the Virginia law, if we kill a deer we can take it home. We could have had venison for dinner.

However I am not complaining.

We are alive.

Seejo cooked. We are having Shrimp Bisque and Chicken tikka .

And I have enough masala for the weekend mail!

Books:

The Smithsonian Institution: Vidal Gore

Farewell to Arms: Ernest Hemmingway

Websites:

Just browed the WWW to find more about deer accidents

* http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-review/opinion/steigerwaldqa/s_6312.html

Childhood Comics: Remember Chacha Chowdhary?

* http://www.diamondcomic.com

Another cool site on the WWW. Reveals the endings of several movies. Astonish others by predicting exactly how a movie would end

* http://www.moviepooper.com

Riddle of the Week:

Why did the deer cross the road?

Driven Around The Bend

Posted July 1st, 2000 by Deepa and filed in Personal
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Let me start at the beginning…..Driving was one of the things I had not thought about at all…but unfortunately all my cousin brothers voted vociferously for learning it quoting terms like “steering balance” and “sense of direction” and other driving cant!! Well So be it!! I went to this particular Motor training school and enrolled myself : a sacrificial goat at the altar of “the get ready for America ” syndrome.

The first day was ok . I came to grips where the clutch, brake and the accelerator was quite quickly…Of course applying it was another thing altogether!! By the time the trainer figured out that I was a total novice it was time for the session to end. But the trainer was a really unique character..He was the typical Hyderabadi with the classic Dakkani Hindi.

Now the actual driving…that was also a fun thing.. By the end of the third lesson we had already established the fact that steering sense is something I just did not have in my blood! He would say “Deepa ,gaadi right ki aur jaa rahi hai” and I would vehemently disagree “seedha hi to hai”. By this time this enlightening piece of conversation would be over ,the car would be ready to crash into the adjoining road divider…And then I would have to agree ( sheepishly though!!) ki gaadi right ki aur hi jaa rahi thi! It took quite some time before my car could stop doing an imitation of Herbie goes bananas!! It still does not go straight still but it is way better!!

By the time I could drive the car with a modicum of driving sense (the Hyderabadi called it just sense!!) Bombay was lashed with heavy rains! By the time we decided we had missed too many classes and that I still know zilch it was the turn Of Bal Thackeray to put a spoke in the wheel in the form of a few bandhsl!! Ofcourse a few days were lost due to visiting relatives and friends eager to make sure that I am really and truly leaving India.!!

Learning to drive in the rain-mauled streets of Bombay is another experience altogether. I wonder whether you have seen the back alleys of Agripada . The roads are hardly wide enough and the vehicles ply in both the directions. To add on to it there are “jhopadpattis “on both sides of the street and the children regard the whole area as their personal playground. Nothing terrified me more than those children scampering up across the street. I consider a great achievement that I sat in the drivers seat and didn’t run-over one of those swot-nosed kids. I hope that one of the first lessons these kids get is to recognize a vehicle from a training school. I think it is a very essential thing to learn early in life!

And the roads … they were snatches of roads between huge potholes. The rains actually create havoc with fallen trees adding to the barely traversable roads. I was so scared to drive through such streets I used to hardly press the accelerator.

I’ll need oodles of practice before I can actually drive with some amount of confidence. No wonder ,cos the times I have actually sat in the front seat of a car can be counted on my fingers. (let me discount the taxis because I always turned back to talk to the people with me!!) there were so many funny incidents , it was I think in the last week of the driving lessons that I realized that the backrest of the seat could be actually moved behind!! That guy’s face was a picture to behold!

I have no idea whether all these will be useful to me ,because by the time I get a car ( and if I do!) I am sure I would never remember any of the things I learnt . Still what I learned is how the roads look from the drivers seat!!!. The guy is really funny ….he is aghast at the idea of me going all alone to big bad USA and that too “padhne ke liye?!!” ( this is said with a look that suggests ……may be this female has really driven round the bend!!). But he is an amusing creature and has promised me a list of “useful” contacts in Amrika. Keeps on telling me “main tumhe Dipti ka address deta hoon ……uske maa-baap udhar hai, chahiye to zaroor milna : Dipti being Dipti Naval!!…..ya Shabana (Azmi) ke somebody bhi hai!!

The driving test was equally funny : a fitting finale to the earlier  training days. This inspector comes with a booming voice and says” Hi! Deepa ,How are you today ? What is your name?” And me I respond with a look that says could you be more idiotic ….” Deepa” And then he asks me to start and then was the best part the contraption failed to start!! He was really nice and said :you are tense , why don’t you try later!” Then the other guy came and it didn’t start either!!! So this inspector pulled the gears and stomped the accelerator and then it finally came to life! After that I sat again and then it was nothing ..Aage lo peeche lo stuff!!

So that means I have been let loose on the streets of Bombay with a driving license to my name! The only thing I am quite sure is that the next time I cross a road or try some pedestrian stunts I’ll. surely think twice ..Who knows the other drivers may be people like me!!!