Friday, April 15, 2005

DIB 342 - The School Jaunts

DIB 342 (our fiat car)used to guzzle an awful amount of petrol. As my dad quoted on some sunny day - 'isko soongne ke liye 15 litre chahiye' (it requires 15 litres to even smell the fuel). Legend says that the car used to hit speeds upto 100 km/h - sadly, it was not so in the 90's. Believe it or not, the car accelerated faster in reverse than in ANY front gear. Fed up with it all, my father decided somewhere along the timeline to install an alternative fuel source. Alas ! Those weren't the days of 'natural gas'. The only aspect natural about the car was its unsteady disposition. We acquiesced on the next-best-thing - LPG.

Quite simply explained, the fuel supply now was directly in control of the driver - a knob near his seat would change its pressure. To simply start the car, one would have to juggle hands between the ignition, steering wheel and the knob in those few seconds. The unsuccessful attempts would release a whiff of LPG. And as you all know, LPG isn't one of the pleasing fragrances of the world - one of those molecules my olfactory senses would gladly avoid.

My sister was (is and probably will be) smarter and more aptly, more circumspect than me. For 2 years, she played her teen-peer-pressure card tactfully and avoided all trips to school by the fiat (oh yes, if an ugly car wasn't enough, I was also one of the teacher-kids. Life hasn't been easy). So mummy quite often would take me along - the window seat providing no relief whatsoever.

The car would infallibly create trouble in the morning. The consummate weather and dewy atmosphere induced too much lethargy. The trio of dad, our helper bhaiya and I would push and push the vehicle in short bursts while it sputtered. As mom struggled with the knobs, the car would suddenly give in and start purring. The journey to the school would usually be uneventful. While the car would cease to cramp my style through the day, my mom would have to handle quite a few solecisms. Some would politely wrinkle their nose, while the bolder colleagues would comment - "Ye smell kahaan se aa raha hai?" or "Mrs.Visalakshi aapka car se thoda thoda badbu aa raha hai." The 'skeleton in the closet' would silently release the gas at a steady rate. Very few knew about the cylinder, and some refused to acknowledge it.

On one such day, after the standard morning procedure and an uneventful day, we were ready to head back home. One of her colleagues Mrs. Negi asked for a ride back home. Although we (mom and I) were quite sure about the vehicle's unreliability, we tacitly decided not to turn down her request. As we three mounted the car, mummy tried. I didn't really count, but the car didn't budge after a lot of attempts. Soon, a faint cloud of LPG engulfed it. Mrs.Negi fiddled impatiently, mummy drowned in anxiety and I hid my embarrassment to my best efforts.

Soon, we(mom and I) knew it was time for the push. The mundus of the school assembled at short notice -the maali, the peon in the white uniform and others. While Mrs.Negi went to phone her husband, the car, mummy, mundus and I made a few pleasant trips on the school roads. I pushed a few times and then resorted to shooting realtime instructions to mom - brake! start! right! left! Thankfully, all this happened in after-school hours and none of batchmates witnessed the promenade.

Around one and a half hours later, Mr.Negi arrived on his bike. The couple waited politely while we pooled in our efforts to start the car. After a while, it did. Mummy drove it back at a terrible pace, terrified it would break down any moment. They escorted us all the way - I mean all the way.

Needless to say, we didn't share any more rides with Mrs.Negi. She had that option. I didn't.

3 comments:

  1. surely.. u dint had a choice.... n dat wud hv been an awful smell...

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  2. Very funny post! Im gonna be a regular here..
    came here from Himadri's blog

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  3. Umm... sounds familiar...
    We had installed LPG in our blue Esteem and the stench was terrible: especially because most of us had extra-sensitive noses. Nothing could cleanse the smell; it lingered on even when we removed the cylinder. Finally, we had to sell the car (that wasn't the only reason, of course), and from then on, we made sure we wouln't even think of switching over to LPG for the rest of our lives.

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