Monday, January 24, 2005


"Chaar hazaar teen sau ho gaye, saab", the mechanic looked up from his calculations. He must've seen the expression on my face, because he immediately followed it up with yet another discourse on how I was lucky to be alive, that I should ride my bike more carefully, not ride on the highway, especially at night, and a thousand other things that I'd heard from people throughout the week.

I paid up, cursed the rusty nail that had decided to get itself introduced to my bike's front tyre when I was speeding along the highway, and slowly got on my bike, taking care not to touch my knee to anything.Finally, after a week of being forced to stay in complete isolation, I was mobile again. I almost welcomed the pain in my knee when I kick-started the bike. Anything but the off-white depression of my apartment walls, the monotony of the TV, or the tedious task of propping my head up on a carefully positioned arm, trying to read The history of nearly everything, falling asleep when the painkiller's side-effect kicks in, bringing the bruises on the carefully arranged arm in contact with the pillow, causing immediate wakefulness and free speech.

My poor bike. Thanks to my school days, I know exactly what the poor thing would be feeling like. Back when I was in school, my bicycle had a perennial flat, and thus I was usually found hitching a ride with Lakshmanan, this friend of mine who used to attract girls by flaring his nostrils and twitching his ears, alternating both movements into some sort of facial dance. Somehow the girls loved it, and though he was probably helped along by his good looks, I always used to lie awake at nights and wonder why I was not gifted in the area of fine facial muscle control.

So this chap used to take me around on his bicycle, and though I always tried to steer conversation away from his cycling skills, he would invariably say, "Hey, check this out - I can exchange the hands holding the handles and still..." at which point the remaining part of his claim would be lost in my cry of surprise, closely followed by a crash. And invariably, when the dust cleared, it was always the hitcher of rides - moi - who was found holding on to various parts of the anatomy, cursing, spitting dust, and looking desperately around for alternate means of transportation. And the rider would not have a scratch on him. Made me think a lot on the unfairness of things.

My point here is that this is precisely what my bike would feel about me. After numerous spills, I have always managed to walk away while my bike has had enough parts replaced to... well, let's say Frankenstein would feel threatened, for lack of a better comparison. I have nothing to complain about, but the other day I was reading yet another Far Side, and one of the cartoons was titled Night of the crash test dummies.

I'm having difficulty sleeping ever since.

Night of the Crash-Test Dummies

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