Saturday, December 19, 2009

Even with a car, I am utterly bekar (bekar = useless in hindi)

Though I haven't really had the time to blog recently due to a spate of unfortunate events in the lab and a tonne of grad school applications, I was compelled by the need to chronicle the sheer magnitude of my stupidity (as reflected by my recent actions) here. As you know, I am quite into self-ridicule and playing the Indian bloody fool.

The events unfolded this Monday as I was driving to work. In the spirit of eco-friendliness (despite, or perhaps due to, the fact that I use a gas guzzling yellow taxi as my means of transport), I switched off my engine while waiting for a train to pass on the tracks in front of me. As soon as the coast was clear I turned my key expecting to hear the engine to burst to life (a sound that increases testosterone levels in men, resulting in it being classified as an empirically tested sexy sound). Alas and alack, what followed was an absence of any sound. For a moment, the ambience was silent as a grave. This proved to be the oft cited lull before the storm since what followed was a crude and strident cacophony of car horns.

I was blocking a lane with a dozen anxious commuters behind me!

Desperately, I turned the key again and again. The lights on my dashboard flashed lazily at me and the engine seemed to have joined Virgil in the world of the dead. I was just beginning to fear being torn to shreds or stoned to death by irate New York drivers when a cop came on the scene and cordoned the area (after almost being run over by an old lady who was making earnest efforts to find a way around my car by driving into the way of oncoming traffic in the other direction). After invoking the son of God and having a cathartic yell at the wanton old lady, the cop called a tow truck and settled down in his car which he had parked behind me.

Mind you, all this time I was feverishly begging the engine to start. When it was clear that it had turned a deaf ear to me, I turned to praying fervently to the large number of Hindu deities to come and rescue me from this Gehenna and making promises of atonement. I still had about 329 million gods to turn to when the tow truck came. The driver who could have been, I swear, Barack Obama's hip-hop loving twin got off and asked me if the car was in park.

I have never laid claim to genius. I am not a rocket scientist or a neurosurgeon and never will be. In fact, I would give quite a lot for someone to upgrade the processor in my brain a little bit. It's still stuck in the Windows 95 era. Now, Windows 95 may not be Windows 7, a webpage does ultimately load in the former. Something like that happened within the unchartered and somewhat frightening viscera of my brain at that instant.

"THE GEAR! I HADN'T PUT IT IN PARK!!! !$£@$@%£%@$!!"

I told him I'd go and check. I got into the car and found that the car was, indeed, still in drive. Somehow, neither the cop, nor I had noticed this in the fifteen febrile minutes that had just passed. While the guy's back was turn, I turned the key with a prayer (to the 100001th Hindu God) on my lips. The engined roared its approval of the new state of affairs. The cop and Barack whipped around at the sound. All I could do at this point was to put on my best thespian performance of the week.

People usually ask: "What would Jesus do?" I asked: "What would Jesus's disciples do?" Astonishment, thy name was Pranay Sinha for a few minutes that Tuesday morning. Peter's reaction to the multiplication of the fish, by comparison, would roughly be as follows: "Meh."

Not being of a scientific or detective bent, Barack-O and the cop did not pursue a line of enquiry as to the how-ness of the miracle. The laconic cop shooed me off. I am fairly sure I'd have beaten a hybrid of Hermes and the flash to the driver's seat. I drove away, my heart beating like a thief's, and my brain in the throes of depression at the realization of its many shortcomings.

James Bond must be ashamed of me.