It was one of my new year resolutions last year to teach myself to drive a scooty–and as it turned out, it was the only one I was able to keep. Not wholly or in full measure but very substantially, to use Jawaharlal Nehru’s elegant words :-P. I mean, I know enough to go around our campus and to the market place about half a km away, but I am still scared of venturing out on thoroughfares and of negotiating the traffic at roundabouts–this, when Chandigarh traffic is very, very well-regulated by Indian standards.
Okay, so yesterday evening I took out our Activa and went to the market to shop for fruits and provisions. The husband is away for a couple of months and I am still getting used to managing two boisterous kids and a household completely on my own. With two shopping bags in hand, I returned to the haphazard parking area, fixed the bags on the hook under the seat and put in the key–and found that the lock wouldn’t budge. Now that was nothing new as I often have trouble with the scooty lock but I panicked when the lock wouldn’t open even after several tries. What’s wrong? I ran back to the provisions store and asked the shopkeeper sheepishly to please help me unlock my scooty–I am a bit new and all that.
So he came and managed to unlock it after a little jiggling. I thanked him and he went away. But my travails were far from over–in fact they were only just beginning. When I now tried to start the engine, it hissed, hiccuped and died. Again. And again. What the hell! But you know how there always are good Samaritans around. A guy sitting in his car came out and offered to help, and managed to start the engine, albeit with some difficulty.
I was now finally on my way home but the scooty was continuing to act queer. The headlights wouldn’t turn on. I was alarmed–had someone been tinkering with my scooty in my absence? A number of ominous thoughts struck my mind. . The engine died out again mid way and I was able to restart it with a lot of difficulty, after having tried for no less than five minutes. I heaved a sigh of relief when I at last reached home. I vowed not to touch the scooty again before having it thoroughly examined by the servicing centre.
It was then that I noticed the wrong number plate.Yes, I had driven off the wrong scooty. Can you believe it? I frantically tried to restart the poor thing–with no success, of course.
I broke into cold sweat. I had visions of police cars with wailing sirens arriving any moment in hot pursuit. I made a mad dash to my neighbour’s flat. Mr. neighbour answered the doorbell, and his serious, no-nonsense demeanor dissolved into frank mirth as I narrated my sorry tale. “OMG, you drove away someone else’ scooty? How on earth? Hehehe!!!” He giggled, making my ears burn all the more with sheer mortification.
He then tried to make me feel better by telling me how ‘someone from his office had once done something like this too’. To me it only sounded like’ never mind, you’re not the only idiot in the world.’!
I handed over my scooty keys to him. The engine came to life again after about ten minutes of trying, after which we went to the market parking area again where I found my own scooty– to my great relief. I had been worried sick that the owner of the scooty I had driven away will have driven away mine!
Since the scooty would not be locked with my keys, we couldn’t go back until the owner of the scooty came along. After a little while, Mr. Neighbour asked me to get going, assuring me that he would wait around for the owner of the scooty to come along. I thanked him profusely and went home where my daughters were waiting to pounce at me. Where had I been? What took me so long?
I mumbled something about there being some problem with the scooter. They mercifully didn’t press for details.
I came to know later in the evening that the the owner of the other scooty had arrived some five minutes after I left and was able to start it with ease using the right keys. He didn’t find anything amiss, so all’s well that ends well. And I have to say that I have the sweetest neighbours in the world.