Wednesday, February 11, 2015

When it rains, it pours

The last 24 hours have been so BhejaFry-esque that I feel I’d be doing injustice if I don’t share it with you.

It is either that I don’t have a good sense of humor and someone out there thought the best way I can make people laugh is by sharing this experience or maybe that someone had a good reason to be pissed with me. In any case, for you I hope it turns out to be a good laugh.

A realization came to me this afternoon. I could win a Gold medal for India in Olympics. If dumbness was introduced as a category!

Life is a great leveler. It always finds ways to let you know how it controls every Higgs Boson out there and how in one snap it can turn you upside down. You’d never know if the black swan is around the corner.

I don’t know where it started, may be last week when I was thinking of what all needs to be achieved this week but I’d like to start with the moment I stepped at work. My phone was buzzing. A colleague of mine was calling. His car had broken down and he was going to be late. I joked and asked him to buy a new car. Whether the heavens were already pissed with me or was it some sort of curse he uttered after our call that led to the events afterwards, we’d never know.

The day moved along but little did I know that the motion of the atoms around me was changing ever so slightly and the electrons were starting to spin in unfavorable directions.
I was leaving at about 8:15 PM when a colleague pinged me on Skype for a quick call. I took the bait and we realized we needed another team member for the call. I called him and he asked for 20 minutes. 20 minutes is exactly the time it takes for me to drive back home. It was 8:30 PM now so I thought that's what I'd do. On my way back however, the team member pinged me on Skype (on my smartphone) and told me he got free earlier than expected.

Now, 9999 out of 10000 times, I would have just driven home and responded back then OR would have taken the call from my car and kept driving. However this day was special. First, I called in Skype through 3G, then for reasons that I can’t explain, I decided to stop for the quick chat. I parked on the dirt road on the side. The “Greater Noida welcomes you” board was in my sight. It was supposed to be a quick call to discuss a business proposal that we had been working on. I switched off the engine and kept the headlights and blinkers on. You know what’s coming but wait till you’ve reached the end. The call dragged along as we discovered new complexities that had emerged, I lost the sense of time and before we held up 40 minutes later, the car batteries had died.

The car wouldn't start and I was left stranded in the middle of the highway. It was 9:15. I drive an automatic so no chance of pushing it and getting it to start. I googled and tried calling a lot of local service stations but nobody would come to help or I was told it would take hours to get any assistance. In this process, my cell phone battery died. Luckily I had my USB charger and the laptop had some charge. I had called up a colleague and he had set out to find help but we realized that the workshops in the whole region are closed on Tuesdays. No help was available. His last resort was to come to the spot with a rope! I was on Skype discussing some work as I waited for him. I told you it is going to get very interesting.

He reached at 10:15 and now we couldn’t find a hook in the front of the car to tie the rope to. After a lot of deliberation the only option left with us was to use a metal hook in the bonnet. My home was still a good 7-8 km away. We started our journey at a little over jogging speed and I immediately knew that this would screw up the bonnet. Whatever I said, my mind was cloudy, my vision blurry, I needed to pee badly and I was hungry like a dog. Whatever the fuck it is, I will get it fixed, is was what I thought. After a treacherous 90 minutes we got home. The bonnet had come out of its base latch and won't close. “Whatever it is, I will deal with it tomorrow”. I got to my room and gulped down two large drinks cursing myself. How dumb of me? With a lot of unnecessary pain and a feeling of foolishness I tried to sleep.

"I should have called X too. Y as well. May be there was a way to tie the rope. What was the point of it all, I could have waited for 2 hours for assistance to kick the batteries on and reached at the same time. May be I should have waved and asked for help from all the cars passing by. Why wasn't I prepared for such situation? Was there no other way?"

I couldn’t let go. Have you ever spun in circles while lying still? You spin, round and round, a whirlpool sucking you down, suddenly you are in a movie hall, watching some episode of your life play, bizarre revolving images, you are the only one watching the show, its pitch dark, deeper and deeper, the movie won't end, just when you think it’s over, a new chapter is on display, you never hit the bottom, the marshy lands keep sucking you in. Finally thinking that it’s over after all I slept. Little did I know that it was just the beginning of the fury.

I decided to work from home and called up a local mechanic in the morning. He came with equipment and in no time the car engine hummed. It was time to fix the bonnet nut-bolts which could only happen in his garage, only 3 km away. I had my work going on so I asked him to take the car and drop it back. It was going to take an hour. After 15 minutes, I was in a meeting, when this guy started calling me frantically. I knew hell was ready to break loose. On his way to the workshop the bonnet opened from the latch and crashed on the wind shield completely cracking the glass. In one moment, the agony turned into pleasure. I couldn’t stop laughing at the veracity. I suddenly felt free. If I was a number, I was negative but the phone call had the number line flipped completely chopping away the negative in front of me. I felt light as if someone just left my body. My palms felt a waterfall whizzing by. It was at that very moment that I decided I have to share the cause-effect-cause comedy that was playing out.  

I dropped out of the call, sent an OOO email and called up Honda service stations. The car had to go there for insurance claim. It was no longer a broken nail, the arm was fractured and 2 teeth were missing as well. The mechanic drove the car slowly to the service station and I hired a taxi to get there. Insurance covered some damages, and I would only get the car back next week, but it didn’t pinch me at all. It was a day that became brighter and brighter contrary to what happened and how I thought it would pan out. I returned back at 6 PM, had the first bite of my day and logged in for usual business.

Some interesting information: There’s this highly acclaimed book that I’m reading these days that talks about our brain, how it thinks, how it takes decisions and makes choices. The chapter that I was reading this Monday spoke about luck and how it plays with us. Coincidence? Luck or dumbness?

May be you thought this episode was funny, may be painful but let me tell you what the funniest or the most painful thing depending upon what you thought is. My car was due a service since September. While I was in UK last week I had a firm thought of sending it to the service station. I only had a weeks’ window as I have to travel next week too, so yes, I had sent it to service, yesterday.

It had just returned after a royal what-ever-you-suggest-mr-mechanic service at 6:30 PM yesterday!

Daniel Kahneman would say, The Dumbness & Intelligence Quotient are not perfectly correlated.

Time for a stiff drink and some Mercyful Fate.


  1. Haha..Life decided to have a little fun with you ! It has the irritating habit of proving us wrong whenever we think 'this will never happen to me'.
    Hmm..I shouldn't have laughed so much on your plight then !

    Thanks for providing some comic relief.

  2. At least one good thing came out of it.... Pushed you enough to write about :)

  3. Saurabh! having read your post. I feel it's now time for you to start honing your chemistry skills.

    The whole incident of car's battery draining out reported by you made me relate it with one of the episodes of "Breaking Bad". However, the protagonist being a chemistry champ (read SK of chemistry) created a battery then and there using some metal and coins.

    Also, since you have already answered my physics question, chemistry is the only subject pending in your plate. Just wondering in case the book have any chapter titled "Chemistry"? :)

    Very well written....keep it coming!

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