Horn Ok Please
In this sad cynical world of ours, there are 3 people you should never talk too much to, at least before they do first- an astrologer, a doctor and a mechanic. Let’s leave the astrologers for another post (another day) and doctors I make fun of in every alternate post of mine, so today let’s talk about the car mechanics. If you have ever visited a mechanic, any mechanic at all, you know what I am talking about and you can stop reading right here. if not, read on to get enlightened. One fine day, fine in every other aspect, as I started my car from the parking spot and pulled out onto the street i happened to notice a damp spot beneath the place where the car was parked overnight. I usually don’t notice such small things around me, for my mind in the mornings often dwells on bigger concepts like my place in the universe and whether i will have time to breakfast at least today. But my dad who had come out right behind me, to make sure that i lock the gate behind me as i leave- an eternal sore point for him, had happened to notice the spot too and he started lecturing me on my utter unsuitability for owning a car because I don’t take better care of it and my mom, coming out to play peace keeper between us and hearing just the later part of my dad’s rant, joined in to scream, “no, no, leave the car and go by bus, don’t take such a big risk” as if i was going to join the nearest grand prix race on a broken down car. I took a look again and to my eye it was just a wet smudge, just a little bigger than a damp spot and suddenly it had turned into a life and death problem for my parents. I was already late for work that day and as such i was loathe to leave the car to walk and take a bus, so I promised to take it the garage later on after work and get an experts opinion on what ails my car.
That afternoon as i went in and parked the car in the shed, the buzz of industry all around me, i looked around for my regular mechanic who seemed missing and i asked around from the boys working there “Babu ella?” (Babu, not present?). One of the khaki uniform clad regulars looked up at my question and then the cry went around the shed. Finally at the far end of the shed i heard a shout “hi door” shouted window “where is the boss?” If you don’t know it by now, car mechanics, just like doctors, have specialists for every car part and they often refer to themselves in the third part by their work specialty. So door shouted back, from where he was industriously hammering apart a, what else, a door “look there under the Toyota, he is checking the axle” or something like that and so window went off to fetch the chief mechanic from under the Toyota.
As i peered around the parked vehicles I could see something like a wheeled wagon slide out from under the lucky toyota which held the boss’s current attention and he ambled along to me then, shouting instructions all the way to the boys in the parked cars around, wiping his hands on a piece of rag cloth that looked dirtier than the River Cooum and asked me “Enna sir?” (whats up sir?). i explained to him about the leak under the car. he popped open the bonnet and spent some time studying the innards intently and straightening up he said “have to change oil filter, air filter, sump, pipe and assorted spare parts” although I didn’t understand a word of what he said but i nodded as if I did and then added “that reminds me” (which is where i went wrong- the moment I could have kicked myself for later on further reflection) “One day last week there was a loud whrumph sound on starting in the morning but it dint happen again” he peered at me suddenly very interested and asked “Was it a whrmmphh? Or a slow Whrumphrumph?” After vainly trying to reproduce the exact sound I had heard- mimicry was never my strong point- I left it to him to think whatever he wanted. He sounded kind of disappointed that I had given up the game so soon and so added in an undertone “I think we should change the fan belt also…a loose fan belt only will make that kind of sound” and I nodded tiredly, exhausted already at the encounter.
He then walked around the car twice- once clockwise and then anti-clockwise and shook his head in a sad way. he reminded me nothing so much as the doctors you see in films who are about to pronounce that the patient was due to die soon and you better get the will signed up fast. He enquired gruffly “anything else sir? any other complaint? How is the ride quality? Bumpy?” I scratched my head and muttered “now that you ask, yes, it shakes a bit too much sometimes”. He stared at me with a disappointed look as if he had expected that I would wring his hand and congratulate him on his deducting prowess. Not getting the expected reaction from me he shook his head sadly and said “it would, it would definitely, the shocks are all gone, the clutch must hang very much, and the tyres are almost bald it’s a wonder that the brakes didn’t fail. We should change the shock absorbers, the full clutch assembly and all four tyres if you want the car to run safely sir, otherwise its quite risky if you take it outside on the highway. I told you all this last service itself but you said you will come only when the problem comes. Anyway now that the car is finally here shall I do that work also in addition?” and he stared at my face with a gleeful expectancy.
i was sweating slightly by this time as i mentally toted up the bill this was running to and wondering whether my salary for the month would cover the expenses or not. And as I wiped the sheen of moisture from my forehead, the mechanic who had noticed that slight movement, turned and opened the car door, leaned inside and switched on the air-conditioner and surfacing outside immediately, looked triumphantly at me and said “look sir, the air-conditioner cooling is also very low, i think we should change the condenser, replace the coils and fill up the coolant gas again. Summer’s coming up and it’s better to get the air conditioner in tip-top condition now itself”. By now, I felt that the summer was already on me in all its merciless heat and before asking the obvious about how much it will all cost me, a question I was dreading the answer to, I asked something else to postpone the moment of reckoning “Will I get it by this evening?” He looked amused and answered as if he was talking to a child “Today evening? I can only change the engine oil and break oil by this evening; it will take at least three days work sir. You better leave the vehicle here now and go away and call me the day after tomorrow and i will give you an estimate”. I couldn’t help asking one last question then “why do so many parts have to be changed? My car isn’t that old” and he shrugged his shoulders and said “Ah cars these days!!! Anyhow I told you already sir, nowadays cars don’t last after 3 years and you have to keep changing to a new car after 3 years otherwise things like this only will happen”. So, mentally chewing on the cars nowadays concept, which was something new to me, I went home reflecting that pretty soon I would have changed everything in my car except the number plates and maybe the horn and should i ask him to do that too and get the satisfaction of a job well done. Or would he think i was making fun of him?
A couple of days later, with the car still in the garage and being given a complete makeover fit enough to qualify it for a beauty contest, i opened my door in the early morning to get out the paper and almost, almost stepped on a spotted tabby cat which was lying peacefully curled up there in the portico. As it hissed at me and fled i noticed that it had peed on the spot where it had lain and a dark smudge was still there. The watch man chose to wander up to me right then and told “Ah, it used to sleep under your car all the time sir, now that the car is not there it is not happy”. Looking forlornly at the wet patch where the car had been and the cat had peed, i was also not happy for spending so much money on something which the cat had done.
P.S. On a related note, I wonder at people who own multiple cars and how they cope. I also wonder about bigamists and people who marry multiple times. Anyone who wants to manage two wives at the same time should first try to maintain two cars at the same time. And I am sure he will realize that one is more than enough considering the hassle in trouble free maintenance.
P.P.S. the Person in the pics is Megan Fox –courtesy Google Images- and unfortunately she is not MY car mechanic….