Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Beast Rolls Out...

After good ole Manikandan gestured wildly to me, I stopped trying the ignition. He had discovered, after opening the huge bonnet [the hood for the non-British] of the car that one cable had been disconnected. He got some workers and got that fixed. Even then the long-dead Beast lay dead, like a drunk elephant. Promising a lot of fun, but not even twitching.

When nothing works the brute method works. I was told by a computer engineer that some of the mini-computers which preceded the micro-computer, the one I am writing on and you are reading on, or PC in the parlance, used to come with elaborate instructions for re-starting if it failed. There was this mysterious 'KO' choice which only the maintenance guys knew about. One day when the mini comp failed to start whirring, my friend heard the service engineer mumbling, ' ah the KO!'. It started when the engineer gave it fat kick. The 'kicking option' it was.

Well, shove came to push, and M/n hollered to the security staff to come and push the damned thing out. Diesel engines are incredibly easy to start when you push the vehicle. I remember having pushed a huge Mataor 16-seater mini bus myself, all by myself, right here in Chennai when it had stalled at a junction on Mount Road. It started easily. The Beast rolled out in style, I coud imagine its eyes popping open and taking in the scenario. There were these ant-like creatures all around, to be crushed, and there were these noisy three wheeled insects darting in and out of the narrow strip of road that lay just ahead. In its throbbing leaps, I could feel its impatience to go around crushing things with abandon.

Using the clutch pedal, which required real strength, I allowed the engine to roar but controlled the speed of the car to nearly that of a bullock cart with a limping animal pulling it. The first traffic junction barely half a kilometre away was the fire test. The green light takes an eternity to turn on, and the fast-moving buses, trucks and two-wheelers make a dash for it. I was surrounded on all sides by all manner of self-propelled vehicles under control of speed maniacs. So I kept the engine running, knowing the battery was nearly dead. I cursed the design engineers since the controls were as hard as a truck's. The spacing between the clutch pedal and the brake was ridiculousl small, making me sit -rather forcing me to sit like a prim old lady with her thighs tightly shut. But the accelerator pedal was too far off to the right and at a ridiculous 40 degress angle. I felt goofy, with right foot going wonky and the left one straight.

The green light came on, and I rolled away. The vehicles all around me were clamouring like undisciplined children in a sweet shop. When I honked, the sound was so shrill and loud I very nearly jumped out of my skjn. On hearing my horn, a delicate looking lady doctor in the small car in front gave me looks that could have motlen a steel bar. How did I know she was a lady doc? There was the big red cross sign on her rear window. I smiled at her fatuously, but she wouldn't smile back. Not only because my horn had ripped through her existence, but also because I realized later, local ladies do not ever smile at strangers. I have to watch out for my ever-ready smile. In this confusion the green light had turned amber, and before I could make it, amber had turned red. The traffic cop didn't like all this cavalier attitude and creeping huge cars. He gave me a stern look, higher in voltage than the lady's. I just sped away, waving at him like a buddy.

The Sierra's seat was adjusted for a person perhaps 4 to 6 inches taller than me - I kept on pushing it forward it refused to budge like a pig being dragged by its captors. This necessity to stretch my body and drive, as if I were inside one of those go-carts, albeit huge in size, irritated me no end. But my attention was focused on keeping the damned engine going, so I tried to get used to the position. After one kilometre of trying out three gears, the damned car has five, I took a leisurely U-turn to see how sharply it turns. It turns like a rhino. Very good at going straight ahead but awkward when you try to turn it. You need a huge circle.

I came back to the same mad rush at the over-busy traffic signal with two cops struggling to manage the chaos that seemed awfully scary. Before actually reaching the signal, the car stalled for some reason, precisely as I had feared. Desparate honking by a small car, a white Indica behind me, nor the cops' shrill and frenized whistling helped maters whilst the green turned amber to red to amber to green. I allowed the car to roll backwards as thee was a slight gradient in the road, but some damned fool or the other was always sniffing the Beast's behind. Too close for comfort. The lights turned green three times and I remained glued like an adamant, rogue elephant blocking the path of all and sundry. I expected to see one of the cops come scurrying to me, but that was not to happen.


At 5:25 PM, Blogger david raphael israel said...


the fact you live to tell the tale, suggests somehow this first automotive venture came to an adequate conclusion. Meanwhile, we have gone from insects to bullochs to pigs to rhinos, in a kind of transmigratory frenzy. Your readers sit on the edge of go-cart seats, waiting to learn what next transpired.

At 9:46 PM, Blogger Dawn....सेहर said...

Awesome is the word :)...I enjoyed the journey...of reading...the roller coaster ride :)


At 4:06 AM, Blogger suniti said...

I am enjoying this :)

At 10:16 PM, Blogger Blue Athena said...

Hahahaha! Liked. :)


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