Out of all the confessions that I have to make the one about my poor driving skills is the least mortifying. So let me tell you what soup did I get into this evening. I had been to the St. Stephens School to arrange for something for tomorrow (SDC begins tomorrow!). I had parked my car on the side road, the one marked as the cycle track. So when we were done, I drove down this track. I took a left turn and suddenly my car took a jolt. I had gone over the embankment. As I tried to manoeuver my car out of that bother, I heard the chassis making an uneasy grating sound. Oops! I got down just to see the front left tyre deflating right in front my eyes. It seemed that the car was whistling as it settled fixedly on the pavement like an obstinate animal.
This was enough to totally unsettle me. I could sense people gloating around me. Aur chala gaadi cycle track par. Ab kharha reh yahan par. Hee hee hee!
I immediately called Joel, who had left just ahead of me. He said he would come back. Meanwhile I steal a glance at the people around, seeking some kind of sympathy. I see the man on the other side of the road selling cigarette, bidi and such stuff glaring back at me. What did he think of me?
Two guys went past me, looking at the car. I thought they were jeering but they weren't. In fact as they went across the length of my car, they turned and told me to get someone to fix the punctured tyre. It felt nice to have someone make an effort to help. In their haryanvi accent they guided me to the place where I could look for someone.
I got hold of this young chap, who quickly finished his cup of tea and came along with a spanner.
Joel had arrived by then. He looked around my car and did the talking with the young rescuer that I had brought. As I stood flummoxed there wondering how I managed to do this, my tiny helper suggested we should get a crane!! Or let's put a stone under the rear tyre reclining on the pavement and try to take the car over, he further advised. Joel asked him to get some people so that we could actually lift the car and put it on side. The boy went on the other side towards where that cigarettewalla was sitting. Meanwhile few people had gathered around my car. And before long I found that Joel and these five guys were lifting the front of the car and moving it. Then they moved towards the rear of the car and moved it completely. Wow!
Out of the four the two went on their immediately. I shouted 'thank you!' and one of them turned to wave at me. The other two guys kept standing there. Both Sikhs. They had struck a conversation with Joel as I oversaw that young resourceful rescuer of mine changing the tyre. I paid him and offered those guys some fruit juice there but they already had had. In fact its only while having it that they spotted me and came over.
Joel told me where to get the tyre fixed and we parted ways.
One silly thing. As soon as I heard the impact my car made and I decided to came down to look I took off my gaudy sunglasses (the only sign of my vanity). Why did I do that? Is there a relationship between a show of austerity and a crisis? I think I just got very self-conscious.