Tuesday, August 12, 2014

MY ENCOUNTER WITH MACHINES

I remember the first week while I was into college. Mechanical Engineering was not a subject I got into after a lot of dreaming and planning, but something I got after a long wait and little to choose from. Since I was called from a waiting list, I happened to miss out on a few classes, not that my being part of those classes would have made any difference. And while I stood there in the machine shop for the practical class, I think my brain almost stopped all its processing. I was given a piece of metal and asked to machine a small cylindrical peg using a lathe. After my encounter with a cycle, the lathe was the next big machine that I had encountered.


With a cycle I had taken real time and went through some bizarre encounters. While into the monkey pedalling stage, I had ran the cycle right through the legs of a lady flower vendor and earned her vituperous wrath. And when I got promoted to the full pedalling stage, I had knocked a fish vendor and his entire basket of fishes, while driving on a road adjacent to a railway station heading for school. I escaped without earning his retaliation. In another incident, I had a perpendicular collision with another elderly cyclist and the impact was so much that I broke his pedal. But, I think what startled him more was the impact it had on me, as I broke down and started crying loudly and ran home. But my father came down along with me and got the cycle repaired. And that very moment he got me back onto my cycle and asked me to continue. I continued and then rode that cycle for several years. Although there were these initial alarming hurdles, I was able to transcend these eventually and loved cycling.

And while I stood there gaping at the lathe, I saw my classmate Sarkar, very deftly work on the lathe in such unbelievable swiftness as he moved about with the speed of a rat. I was doubly sure I would not be able to reach that level, even if I was given the same number of classes that he had been given. But I was sure, I would be able to do it, if I was given more time. But unfortunately, we never get extra practical classes to practice our skills in the lab, especially in a machine shop. Given the time, I would have persisted and dominated it. 

Once I got into a job, all at home talked about buying the first motorcycle. Although there were 100CCs already then, I was fascinated with the Yezdi and shared this fascination with one of my cousins. He had that flair for bikes I think although he did not have a license that time. When I was at Kerala for a holiday and one of our relatives had came home on an Yezdi, my cousin quickly spoke to him and got the bike and then, exhorted me to start driving it right away. I was already a diffident guy and also one who was extremely wary at taking risks and he was the exact opposite of it. But since he kept nudging me in front of so many relatives, I relented. He briefed me on how to ride and I don't know how much of that registered inside me. The road in front of our native home had paddy fields on both sides for about 50 metres. I remember my cousin starting the bike, setting the gears and getting the bike to move.

The vehicle went ahead and my right hand got clasped on to the accelerator. I could barely sense what was whizzing past me. I remember my cousin helping me take a curve and letting a transport bus pass by from the opposite side. And then came a road which had bushes on either side beyond which again lay the paddy fields. My eyes were already full and I could not judge the road, but I had to move on. We were already at high speed as the only thing I was doing as a reaction to getting tense, was accelerating more and more. I remember him shouting "Brake, Brake. You have to take this turn. Slow down." I don't know what I did, and the next scene was that both of us along with the bike, plummeted right through the bushes at the curve. Lucky for us, that some low running tree branch held us back and that way we did not end up falling into the paddy fields. There were some good bruises then and now, these lasting memories. But after that thrilling take off and two more accidents, through which I sailed through safely, I enjoyed driving the Yezdi for a long time.

The next encounter was with a car and the very sight of it gave me creeps. While into my driving classes in India, although the instructor had his own set of controls, I was so scared that I lost track of what I was doing. The first vehicle that came across while I took off on a car the first time, was a huge truck and I don't know how I went past it. The car moved I think with divine intervention and finally landed up amidst a number of water lorries at the Kilpauk water tank, which is the water treatment centre at Chennai city. And as I struggled to move out of that place, the instructor kept prodding and shouting at me as though I was one of those galley slaves of Rome. It was only at the end of the class I understood, why he meted out a harsh treatment for me while he treated the others like dear children often addressing them "Son","Little Brother" and so on. This was because they gave him pocket money at the end of every day's session. I obtained my Indian license but was never confident enough to drive alone.

Even after we bought a car, years later, I always ventured out with someone on my side. The real challenge opened up in Seattle U.S.A, in 2006 when I ventured for a license. All my friends got their license spending little or no money for driving lessons. But out of sheer apprehension, I took up many driving lessons and spent a lot of money. I had to attempt twice to get the license. The first attempt had to be aborted as soon as it started, as I made a dangerous action and that was the switching on of my left indicator, for taking a left turn, while I stood on the lane heading straight and did not take the left turn lane. And while getting back to the driving school that day, I hit the pavement once. My parallel parking attempt also saw the car finally land up at an angle of sixty degrees to the cars on the road. I was successful on my second attempt months later, although while on my way to the driving license examination centre, my driving instructor saved my life by timely jamming the parallel brakes, while a large truck sped past me like lighting in the opposite direction from downhill when I was about to take a left turn. I had missed out pausing for the main road traffic.

Years have slipped by and today, I am enjoying car driving. I envy the guys who have a flair for machines and their ability to tame them on the first go.

8 comments:

Prakash Bharadwaj said...

Nice Roy... this brings my first car driving experience in the US. After learning car driving in India on an old Amby, I thought driving a car here in US would be driving a moped. you know without gear. Just sit in and press the accelerator or brake and be done. With that confidence I took the car from a friend who had actually rented it. I lied to her that I was an excellent driver in India. Otherwise she wouldn't give me the car, you see. Few moments into driving, she asked me, did you lie to me? to my embarrassment. She found out by the way I was swaying on the road... no steering control, whatsoever... that was a funny experience... I obtained US license after 6 months of driving (I had IDP).. the Inspector gave me a feedback, everything is fine...but no one hand driving... I got so used to driving with only my left hand that I had forgotten that I was being inspected for my driving... it's after all practice that makes things perfect...

Anonymous said...

It was started with heart touching anachronous memory trace of mam and your child hood. Since I want to spend little more time to give a befitting comments did not reply immediately, but time proved it was wrong assumption. Routine pressure I could not find calm time for well deserving reply.
Mere language alone cannot speak those emotions it is your mind which carry heavy memories. Illustration given was heart touching. It is still hunting me.
Subsequently you have posted Carrot halva,… sugar was added by Mr.Durai, …..dressed up with love by Mr.Wilson and cooked by great connoisseur, before I add something it was sold out. I was eagerly waiting for pudding…and chakkara pongal
First day in L&T supersede all above and filled with lot of chips oiled with love and affection. Life is also one way like chips, over a period of time you will be removed as chips and become scrap.
Your latest episode, drive me to my experience in Malaysia. I have done exactly same as you and your friend Mr. Prakash. Purchased new car and gone for puja in an Indian temple. Puja was performed in grand manner in front of all Indian expatriates. Coconut was broken with camphor-flame and everybody appreciated my skill in breaking coconut. That was easy as I have done many occasions. Now comes the great event, the great Srilanakan pujari with huge belly asked me to start engine and drive over the lemon…instead I could jump over the lemon which nobody could achieve so far …a driving feat……loud uproar from every corner ………. rest is the history……
Jayarajan Azhikodan
Bangalore

Jubi said...

Roy,
I'm there in your last paragraph. I started off driving all the three without a problem right from the first go. Not to mention a few accidents off late.
I too enjoy driving even now, no matter how long it is.
Your blog was good and subconsciously I went back in my memories where I started, and it was for sure a good feeling. So thanks to you.

YR said...

Roy,

Really enjoyed reading about your "my encounter with machines".

What really read from your above blog (and many other blogs of your) was you are very good at narrating and everyone will definitely understand and most important thing is everyone will LIKE it.

As you are a very good WRITER/NARRATOR, My humble request to you is if you join (try) in MOVIE/CINEMA writing you will definitely shine and you will become very popular and you will get AWARDS to my knowledge (again as I said above you have that talent, the way you write everyone will enjoy as well as LIKE it). Why can't you give a try for the sake of me (or FRIENDS as I only don't want to take that credit, you have many friends who might have appreciated/suggested about this).

Thanks for sharing the blogs. Will catch you later.

As I told you give it a try (PEOPLE will turn to you as you have TALENT)

YR

Roy Cherian Cherukarayil said...

@Prakash: Thnx,Very nice experience that you have shared:))Actually we need good friends who can spare their vehicles and help us during that phase. One hand driving is a show of confidence actually.
@Jayan: Thnx. Happy to know that you have been going through all the posts and you are able to recall them. And you have very beautifully put forth your views:))
@Jubichetta: Do you remember the first ride that you took on that Yezdi while we brought it home:) Yes you are a natural with these.Thnx much.
@YR: Thnx for the faith that you have in my work. No doubts I will pursue it:))

SB said...

Hi,
sorry i hadnt read you for a long time. today in office, I had some free time and so I thought of reading your blogs. u bring an element of philosóphy evenin simple things of life. thanx for provoking such great thoughts.
i loved your writings on driving. though i have a driving licence i cant drive bcoz i am too nervous and diffident. sometimes this inferiority complex that i cant drive is very difficult to stand.


hope you and everyone at your home is fine.

SL said...

ur blogs are awesome keep going

MKR said...

good naration:)

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