Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Four men and a Car(2008)

My second coming to US has been no less eventful than my first. Apparently, I am very good at remembering my old mistakes. I had a checklist somewhere in my subconscious memory that meticulously ensured I repeated them all. Therefore I landed in Phoenix,AZ, once more, with everything I need back in India, and everything I don’t need in two over sized suitcases superman would struggle to lift. I got a ride to my apartment from Anand, my boss. At the apartment I met the two unique individuals whose would be the only two faces I see over the next two months. Fortunately they were jolly good fellows and so it was not so bad a deal. Pavan and Surya are my roommates. Pavan had just graduated and was busily searching for a job when I came in. When he was not searching for a job he was cooking. When he was not cooking he was watching a telugu(Indian language) movie. If it was none of these, he was asleep. Surya worked for American express and was a very busy person. He spent all his free time online, searching for articles he could read to while away the 8 hours he was forced to spend in office. They are both very easygoing and I had no trouble fitting in.

A couple of days after I came in Surya bought a car, his first car. A fully loaded Acura. Slick and fast, it was the pride of our apartment .. for a day. The next morning we had a flat tire and Surya caught the bus to office. We fixed the flat that evening and went to bed. The next morning Pavan and I woke up to curses and rants from the parking lot. The other tire was flat. That evening we took the car down to a mechanic. He checked it out and told us that the car needed repairs of ~1200 dollars. I looked to my left and saw a handsome white stranger next to me. A moment later I realized it was not a stranger, it was Surya, on the verge of fainting. For want of money we dint give the car for repairs, and that turned out to be a wise choice. We later came to know that nothing was wrong with the car and the mechanic was trying to slip a quick one past us. Behind the wheel, Surya is the equivalent of your average 60 year old. Wait’s forever to cross an intersection, signal a couple of blocks before the turn etc etc. As if that wasnt bad enought sometimes Surya would go into NFS(need for speed) mode. The gas get’s floored, turns get acute and fear grips your heart like never before. When this happens Pavan and I usually crouch down in our seats crying loudly to the lord to forgive our sins before he takes us. I remember one pleasant evening, when we were cruising down an unfamiliar road. The sight of a Walmart to our right jolted Pavan’s memory and he remarked that we need groceries too. He paid dearly for saying that. Surya’s eyes glazed and in an instant Shumacher Surya was behind the wheel. He twisted the wheel all the way and floored the gas. The car spun into a 90 degree turn, cut an S shape perpendicular to oncoming traffic and shot into the parking lot of the Walmart. The only thing I saw was a building approaching at the speed of light. Somehow Surya managed to stop the car before we crashed.

Time is the best medicine and time helped Surya’s driving too. Shumacher incidents have slowly died out and his regular driving speed has slowly gone up until, now, he’s pretty handy with the car. We were also joined by our fourth roommate. Naveen, a self confessed foodie, and someone who would give the average girl a run for her money for time spent on the phone. Naveen loves to cook, and we love to eat .. a match made in heaven. He fit right into our group. Our car troubles, however, still dog us with us hitting a new low last week. The remote for central locking had died. It seemed to us to be a minor trifle and we ignored it. Ever heard of a fellow called Murphy? He struck again. We were at a gas station. Surya was filling gas, Pavan and I were in the car and Naveen had gone to purchase cigarettes. As peaceful a setting as could ever be. Spotting Naveen coming back, I leaned over and unlocked his door from inside the car. Pandemonium broke look. The car started honking and blinking, and we understood what it meant to be a celebrity. Everyone within a mile radius was staring. I glanced outside the car to see how Surya was taking it. He was frozen, his mouth open, tongue hanging out, eyes bulging .. I don’t think he realized it was just the car alarm. He thought it was a bomb about to go off. A part of him wanted to run for dear life but the other part told him to do something to save his beloved car. His first reaction was the pull the gas nozzle out, with gas still flowing. Nearly a whole gallon later he managed to put that back it. Then, realizing it was the alarm, he took out his useless, non working remote and started furiously jabbing the unlock button with a desperate pleading look in his face. When that dint work he shut off the gas pump, started the car and drove around the gas station. We looked great, horns blazing, lights blinking driving around the gas pump. Dint work too .. so Surya parked at the parking lot and we stepped out. We popped the hood and all of a sudden the sound stopped. Silence never felt so golden before. Still sweating profusely from our ordeal we got into the car and Surya turned the key. Off went the alarms again. Pavan, Naveen and I shot out of the car and pretended we were also part of the pack of ‘irritated bystanders’. Surya, meanwhile, decided that the best thing to do was to make a quick getaway .. but the car would not start. He was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He kept on turning the key but the car would not start (we later realized the transmission was on ‘Drive’ not ‘park’). We decided to call a mechanic and we rang up Surya’s friend to get his number. I don’t think he is a friend anymore. For every sentence of ours he had five questions. Personally I think he dint know the mechanic and was stalling for time. Here we were, on the verge of tears, with half the world staring angrily at us and this comedian was playing twenty questions with us. Fortunately, the alarm turned off again. We waited a full five minutes before we tried starting the car again. This time it worked and we slunk quietly off from the parking lot. We still haven’t fixed that alarm remote.