Triple threats

Our (or rather, Balu’s) Tata Indica car broke down early this morning. It was only a matter of time. His car looked like a wounded solider returning home from ‘The battle of Bombay street traffic’: the side view mirrors are neatly bandaged, but hanging on for dear life. This tiny vehicle has no shock absorption, resembles the shade of a spray tan gone wrong (not quite orange, not quite bronze), but part of me has become attached to seeing this little orange-bronze bundle ‘tut tut’ its way up to the entrance of our building. Upon exiting a store, I breathe a small sigh of relief at seeing Balu’s car and knowing I’ve reached home base.

Balu didn’t seem bothered by his car’s death and went to work like a proper mechanic as though he done this many times over. I stood aside in amazement watching him calmly attempt to revive his car’s battery. Balu is a talented man. ‘Driver’ simply does NOT do justice to his mass skill set. A driver in India means you not only transport people around in a car and listen to incessant passenger conversation, but also function as a tour guide and mechanic, as needed of course. Balu, the driver-tour guide-mechanic. I wondered how that would look on a business card…

Change of plans: instead of a Bandra-Santa Cruz trip we would stay local. M and I went out about our business heading to Chembur station in an autorikshaw.

After completing our list-of-things-do, we again headed back home in an auto. Our auto-driver was swerving all over the place, when he suddenly hit the brakes. A car was backing out of a driveway and the coolie (security guard) of the building had signaled the auto to halt. M and I flew forward slamming onto the auto-drivers back, the auto hit the coolie and the car hit the rik. A three-way accident, luckily no one was injured. The auto-driver got out and exchanged some loud angry words in Marathi to the car’s driver. The driver got out of his car. They both assessed the damage: none to the auto, a huge dent in the car. The two men (three, including the coolie), had a good laugh. Auto-man got back in the auto, turned to look at M & I, and continued onward to our home. M and I found this exchange to be hilarious because in the States what was a 3 min occurrence in India would take 3 hours in America: police report, exchanging insurance and driver info, etc.

The driver explained, “Madam, this is India.” Sir, you are correct.

Author: howstrait

Inspired by William Ernest Henley, this is The Gait. "It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll. I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul." After I found out I had muscular dystrophy, I've been two lives: one that exists in India where I wear kurtas and speak Hindi more than English, and the other, an American girl who says 'thank you' and 'please' more than anyone likes. I'm learning and living for the moments when my curiosity gets the best of me. Follow me on this not-so-straight path of life. Thanks for stopping by!

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