My friends and I get wings when we talk about cars. The mesmerizing vast arena of never-ending discussion opens like Niagara Falls in its full glory when the topic turns to automobiles during our quick catch up breaks. It goes like a bumper to bumper insurance cover, without leaving no part untouched and then generally left incomplete to be continued at a later session. For those who are not so obsessed with the topic, possibly the most terrifying part of a car could be the gear. What led me to this conclusion? Well…….
Incident 1. Two women talking. Now listen carefully and don’t ask me ‘who’ they are. This is not as simple as belittling my friends. This is a much more serious stuff and can be life threatening. Hence, they stay ‘some two women’. So, the conversation went on like this. Lady 1, ‘I don’t understand why someone would drive a car faster than 40 km per hour! 40 is a good speed to reach anywhere on time’. Lady 2, ‘Absolutely, I never understood why the manufacturers even keep *gears over 3! it is totally not required’. Lady 1, ‘oh you’ve stolen my words, I never pushed it beyond 3’. Lady 2, ‘yeah, and its already difficult to operate clutch, break and accelerator with two legs and simultaneously keep your hands on the driving wheel and do 100 other signaling functions’. Soon they summarized the conversation with a commonly agreed statement that the actual issue is the unwanted 4th and 5th gear and looked at me for my opinion. I stood up from my seat slowly, pretending something else was happening in the next room and started walking while noticing a fourth person, another guy sitting in the room, secretly smiling!
Incident 2. An office meeting. Seven of us were talking. Group had six men, majority of them were fighting to take their tern and open the treasure of automobile knowledge and gift everyone a piece of their valuable information. Conversation went on like it was free for then and if you do not listen, later it will be charged for a revision. One or two others just waited for the conversation to end so they can discuss the topic for which the meeting was called for. The only lady in the room stood there like Nia Long who just found out that Martin Lawrence was in the Big Momma’s costume till that date cheating her! Her eyeballs were bulged as if it waited for permission to fall out and run.
During the conversation one said, ‘my car is not giving me enough mileage**’. ‘oh, is it? what happened?’ the other one amused. ‘don’t know, I normally drive very careful. Don’t understand why I don’t get the mileage’. This time, my eyeballs were out remembering a previous day conversation where he mentioned never crossing 3rd gear while driving. I was a nerd to quickly say, ‘where will you get mileage when you always drive in 3rd gear’. The devastated look on his face brought me back to normalcy. Maybe I was too loud and fast to pull my dear friend down in front of the whole team. I shouldn’t have but couldn’t figure out why the 4th or 5th gear was not used. One thing was clear. Yet again, the problem child has been named out. The gear!
Incident 3. This goes about a decade back. And the hero is none other than…… the very talented…….. wait, you’ll find out.
1st week of my 1st car. Overconfidence was all over me. Decided to drive till office and invited a colleague to be a co-passenger. It’s a 20km drive that normally takes one and a half hours in the heartless Bangalore traffic. Ideal driving time, 15 mins at the maximum. Somehow drove in to a narrow and stupidly busy road to pick him. Both of us were in a south Indian ethnic wear called ***‘mundu’ for some special occasion at office. It is very rare that I fall for such ethnic dressing exhibitions because of the challenges involved to hold the mundu in place. Before getting out of that road, a bike bangs on the right-side front door. My heart broke into multiple pieces. There is an obvious dent on the door. A hundred thoughts flashed in my mind. If I get out and pick up a fight with the biker, he might notice the mundu and what if he just pulls it off my waist! Even if the colleague comes for help, it will only result in two idiots standing in that busy road without proper garments and trying to spread our palms to protect humanity. Our own humanity. So, gently smiled at the biker and asked if everything is okay with him and we moved on without stepping out of the car.
Already shaken, I somehow wanted to reach the office. Almost 2km left to reach, and we got trapped in huge traffic at the middle of an underpass. Which would mean, now it is a steep up when we restart. After 20 minutes, vehicles started moving. I pressed my leg on the accelerator in relief. Car is not moving. It just got switched off. Started again…. same thing happened. By then vehicles behind me started honking. Sweat rolled down from my forehead. Other drivers around are screaming at us. An enormous bus right behind started honking continuously. How can my new car breakdown in the 1st week? Did the accident damage the engine? Before slipping into a coma, heard an angel whispering. ‘Isn’t the gear supposed to be in 1st when you restart?’ I looked at the angel. Angel’s face looked familiar like that of my colleague’s but in total confusion. Looked at the gear position. Its in 3rd! Life came back to my body. Pushed the gear into 1st and pressed the accelerator. It worked…. Phewwww. I am relieved, colleague is relieved, other drivers on the road are relieved, my new car is relieved. Relief has become my favorite word.
But it was the gear!
- *In India 1 to 5 manual gear cars still rule the road over automatic.
- **Maximum area you can cover for 1 litter petrol/gas.
- ***A single piece of long cloth that is draped around the midriff.