Posted in Life, Memories, Stories

My Pets 1 – A Tabby Tomcat

When I was a kid, I was extremely indolent about my schoolwork. It wasn’t like I was dim or something, I did perform above average in all my exams but as I never did my homework on my own I had to have extra tuition. When I was in fourth grade my tuition teacher was an old lady, a retired school teacher. She lived with her only son in an apartment some ten minute walk away from my home. She had this cute little tomcat. She said he came to her one day on his own not more than a month ago and she didn’t try to shoo him away and he just stayed. He was small, not fully grown; tabby grey with white paws. Whenever I had been studying or was at least trying to study he’d rub against my legs or my back purring, and then stretch on my lap. I started liking him, but he was driving my teacher crazy by habits like stealing food or pooping anywhere in house.

One day when I was at her home my tuition teacher was talking to someone about abandoning the cat and I blurted out “NO! Wait!” I asked her if she can wait for one day so I can ask my mother if I can have the cat. She tried to dissuade me but I convinced her saying “we live in a big house where he can go out any time and I’ll train him so he won’t defecate inside the house and I really want that cat and I’ll take care of him.” My tuition teacher wasn’t fully convinced but she agreed finally.

It wasn’t an easy task to convince my mother that I can really take care of that cat; but in the end I did it. It took me almost all the evening to induce her.

Next evening when I headed off from my tuition teacher’s home I was bouncy with joy, carrying my backpack of books on my back and holding a tabby grey cat at my chest with both hands. When I reached home, I gently put the cat down and he started exploring my house and I thought he liked it because he jumped on sofa, curled and dozed off. I was particularly happy that day.

Next morning when I woke up for school my parents were extremely annoyed, I found out soon that ‘my new pet’ had pooped under their bed and now they have to move their king sized bed to clean it. The stink was unbearable. I crept out of their bedroom; got ready for school and left home quietly without even waiting for my lunch box. When I returned from school I was rather worried about getting told off but no one said anything. That bothered me even more because I was feeling guilty myself so I approached my mother and declared that I was going to start training the cat first thing tomorrow.

That evening my tuition teacher sent me home early because I couldn’t concentrate on my studies as my whole mind was on ‘how I’m going to train my new pet.’ When I reached home I looked everywhere for my cat but couldn’t find him anywhere. I was starting to get worried when I heard him above my head on a tree in our front yard. He was stuck up there and wasn’t being able to get down so I tried everything that my brain could think of to get him down but he just sat there in a high fork. My father kept telling me “don’t worry, cats do know how to climb a tree and how to get down, he’ll come down all right” but I knew my pet was stuck so I managed to get a ladder from a neighbor; which was a tad short and I couldn’t reach where my cat was sitting so I kept on calling him to me. At around dusk my pet abruptly rose to his feet, climbed down the tree rather effortlessly and disappeared inside the house and I had to call my father to help me descend the high ladder.

Next morning there was again a surprise under my parent’s bed. It was a Sunday so I had to help cleaning that mess. I spent next two days teaching my pet things like pooping outside the house, eating or drinking only in his bowl, sleeping in his basket. At the end of the second day I was fairly happy for I thought I had achieved my goal. I went to sleep that night smiling to myself pompously. Next day I woke up early and went to look under my parent’s bed first thing in the morning. It was clean and when I reached in the living room my cat entered house from front door. I was in high spirits the whole day.

Next morning I learned that my cute little pet had reduced all my efforts to ashes. He absorbed again all the bad habits; Pooping under bed, eating anything that can be reached. My parents started asking me to get the cat back to my tuition teacher and I had to tell them that my tuition teacher didn’t want to keep the cat and to wait for few more days so I can try and train him.

A few days past, my cat did stop stealing food or at least reduced it and left alone my parents bed (because they kept their bedroom door locked) but he found another place under the sofa in living room.

One day I got back from school to find my cat nowhere in or around the house or up any tree. I asked everyone but nobody had seen him since morning. I dashed to my tuition teacher because I thought he must have gone there but he hadn’t. I searched for him whole evening but couldn’t find him. I waited at the front door for a long time but my pet didn’t come back. My parents were constantly telling me not to worry; he’ll come back but he never did. At last, after many days I learned that my father had taken him for a long drive that day and left him in care of a waiter of a motel on highway, far away from our home. I was mad at my parents for many days but now when I think of him I think he must have lived happily wherever he lived and a motel was definitely the best option for him.

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Posted in Life, Memories, Stories

It was it’s Last Day after all

It happened about a year ago. I was on my motorcycle with a friend. I don’t remember where we were going now but we were in hurry. We turned left on a signal and started on a side road when out of the blue; something big and black fluttered on my bike’s fuel tank and then jumped on the front wheel. My brakes were just in time, but I had to hear some ‘bad words’ from the car which was right behind us.

I hopped off my bike leaving it to my friend and picked up the bird from the street. It was a tawny and white pigeon, with a black plastic carry-bag entangled to its right foot. I disentangled the plastic and put the bird down at a corner. It fluttered but couldn’t fly, it was hurt. I didn’t have much time so I picked it again and placed on a compound wall off the street to be safe.

I was just turning to leave when a big grey cat, probably already sitting on the wall but I didn’t see it, jumped on the pigeon I had just ‘tried to save’ and disappeared into the bushes at the other side of the wall.

I just stood there; stunned. Then my friend who was watching all this from a distance came to me and said ‘don’t feel bad, you did try, I guess it was it’s last day after all.’

Posted in Life, Memories, Stories

My First Car

For most of the last year I was planning to buy an old, used car and when I’d saved enough for it I instantly started looking for one. After a quite long search and criticism I found a car which was comfortable enough both for my pocket and for me. It was an old Hyundai Santro Zip Drive – GS, twelve years and eleven months old, but it was cheap and when I took a test drive it seemed in quite good shape. Of course there was a little work needed to be done, like A/C wasn’t working, silencer needed welding, central locking needed servicing and some small stuff like that. But all that seemed nothing before the price which was only Rs. fifty thousand. It’ll cost me five thousand more; max; I thought and closed the deal happily.

My car was working great. I even got it checked by my dad’s old mechanic; he drove it and said it’s a good car at this price. So I was happy. I got some of the work done like welding the silencer, changing door handles, changing oil and stuff. After that I went to visit my aunt a hundred km away. Mileage was also good. Again I was very happy. A few days after I was back from my aunt; my car’s transmission started sticking. It wasn’t much noticeable in the beginning but started to grow more galling as days passed. When I took my car to the mechanic he said car’s clutch plates needed replacement. I got that replaced. Still I wasn’t much worried. It’s an old car after all. Now I just needed to get the air conditioner repaired and the days were still cold enough so that wasn’t necessary until the next month.

My car ran smoothly after that… for a few days sure it did. Then the starter started to stick every morning, just click-click a few times and then finally it would start. I was upset, yes, but it wasn’t that much vexing in the beginning. Then one day I couldn’t roll down my car’s windows and the starter wouldn’t budge. So it wasn’t the starter after all it was either battery or alternator. Again quite grudgingly I had my car’s battery checked and found out the battery was almost six years old and too frayed to go on. I replaced the battery and hoped this was last thing needed replacement in my car.

But then again one morning my brand new battery was all out and now I was seriously enraged. Now it was alternator. I was short on money by the time so I had to go for a second hand alternator which broke down within a month, but my mechanic was good enough to replace it again without a penny.

Two months passed without any trouble. I used my car in and out of the city and it worked fine. Then again, my car’s steering oil started to need top-up every two days, now it was oil seal. I consulted with my mechanic and I knew it’ll get worse; still I ignored it for the time being, I had a long trip planed with my family and if power steering stops working I could do with manual, it’ll work.

I and my family started our journey with joy. We were headed three hundred kms north from Mumbai, via Mumbai-Goa highway, to Chiplun; a town where we’d lived for eight years before shifting here, where two of my uncles and one aunt still lived, and after that we were to go to our native place some two hundred kms further on Mumbai-Goa highway and from there, to Kolhapur where my father currently lived; hundred kms more, and then back to Mumbai via Pune-Mumbai expressway, four hundred kms more. Well that was the plan, total one thousand kms.

It was, as I’d planned, a four days trip. We were five people; me, my mother, my sister, her husband and her baby. As long as we started on highway I realized, at turns my car wobbles a little violently, even when I maintained an average speed. That meant rear suspension, I knew. At two hundred kms my car’s engine started to sound like a diesel engine. I didn’t know why that was so I stopped at a service centre and enquired. It was the gear box, great. They told me I could go a few hundred kms with it without any trouble and we arrived at Chiplun, our first destination. Next day, before heading to our village, I called my father and asked him to meet us at the junction to Kolhapur on Mumbai-Goa highway, from where our native village was a little farther. I left my car at a hotel near the junction and we all proceeded with my father, in his 1996 Opel Astra 1.6, which was still stunning. (She is still as stunning as she could be, except for fuel efficiency, but the engine and body and space and style and comfort and… I mean almost everything is great).

So we visited our village and came back before dark to the junction where my car was parked, then, I alone in my Santro and everyone else in my father’s Astra, we continued toward Kolhapur. It was still a hundred kms more and before we reached there, my car’s engine was as noisy as a bus. There was no way I could’ve made it back to Mumbai with my car in that condition. Next day I left my car at a garage of my father’s acquaintance in Kolhapur, and a day after that I started my return journey as planned, in my father’s car.

Two days later my father was in Mumbai for his business. He came by train, and I forced him to take his car back.

After fifteen days I travelled to Kolhapur to get my car. Gearbox, Suspension, A/C compressor, wiring, Power steering, everything was done and my car was running smoothly, I mean really smoothly this time. I took my car back to Mumbai and enjoy the solitary journey like never before.

Well I bought that car cheap, for Rs. fifty thousand and all that work and replacements cost me Rs. Sixty five thousand and that’s not it, there’s still some body work and paint that needs attention. So finally my cheap car is not so cheap anymoreJ.

Oh and yes, after a month I had to replace that second hand alternator too.

Posted in Life, Stories

And I drove a car…

    We had just shifted to Mumbai from a small town after my eighth grade and I had no friends to hang out with. It was summer vacations and I was dead bored before the end of the second week.

On Saturday my father was to go out of city for work and he wasn’t going to be back until Sunday night. But the best part was he wasn’t taking his car and I was all excited to try my hands again on that car. I had already driven that car successfully once before (Just first gear and reverse to be honest, a few feet forward and backward…🙂) and I was all set to try again. (Well I knew the theory, besides I could ride a motorcycle so how hard it could be? Or so I thought.)

My father left on Saturday afternoon but I dare not sneak out before dark and I could have sworn the sun wasn’t moving accurately that day.

So after waiting a little late after dinner, I took my dog for a walk around eleven O’clock with the car keys safely in my pocket and headed straight for the car. Luckily our new home was on fourth floor and the place where car was parked wasn’t observable from any of our windows. I unlocked the Car and directed my dog to the back seat. He settled there and I started the car with quivering hands.

I shifted the gear into first, waited, and slowly released the clutch. It was a weekend so very few cars were parked around. Once in motion; I released the clutch and didn’t accelerate. Car stayed in one steady speed and I hung on only to the steering wheel but promptly I realized; that was the hardest part, steering. The street was straight up to the square of our new housing colony and there were two gates on both ends of the cross road and straight from the square was a temple. Though the road was straight; I was having a hard time keeping car steady.

At the square I turned left without breaking, wobbling the car perilously, and steadied with a little difficulty and no sooner than I steadied the car a cat came trotting on the road in front of me. I was so preoccupied in keeping my car on road I pushed my foot on accelerator instead of break. The cat dashed away, missing by an inch. I was shaken still I wanted to go ahead, and I did. I headed straight to the gate two and turned right at same speed. I was getting better already. This street was always deserted and if I turned right at next lane I would head for the main road on the other side and then get back home through gate one. But before my turn there came another trouble. A truck and a van were parked parallel on both sides of road and I wasn’t at all sure if I could get my car through them unscratched. I didn’t even thought of breaking and just let the car glide away. When I was across the narrow gap without a scratch on car I was stiff and my heart was hammering against my ribs.

I was still shaking when I turned right and reached the main road on the other side. Here I finally used the brakes and stopped the car. There were hardly any vehicles on road. I waited to let my heart calm down and then slowly turned right when road was clear. Turned right again at gate one without turn indicator and ‘noticed’ a man walking in the middle of the road just inside the gate. I panicked and again hit the accelerator, but released immediately and honked, only two feet behind him. He jumped aside and I heard him swear before passing.

When I finally returned to the parking spot I still had a job of turning the car around which seemed more than impossible.

I parked the car facing the opposite direction as it was and prayed my father wouldn’t notice.

Posted in Life, Stories

My first Bike

It IS true….

You can’t forget your first experience of riding a bicycle.

Feeling breeze on every inch of your body, feeling of gliding like you’ve got wings is incomparable and everyone who could ride a bike knows what I mean so I think I need to say no more.

I got my first bike when I was in third grade. It was a Hercules, and I used to ride it as fast as my small legs could pedal. But I didn’t learn riding on that bike. I learned riding with my neighbor’s old bicycle in summer vacation after my second grade.

He never lent his bike to anyone but me, my neighbor. He was quite fond of his bike. It was an old bike with no name or stickers on it and was hand painted sky blue with oil-paint. Every afternoon I’d borrow his bike and try to learn riding on my own along the long lane in front of my house, up to the Main Street and back. Balancing came naturally to me but this bike was a little big so I couldn’t put my leg across the middle bar, to the other pedal and was a little anxious to put my leg thru the bars until I gained confidence, So in the beginning I would just put my hands on the handle, my right foot on left pedal and push with my left leg like riding a small three wheel scooter.

I practiced for a few days that way and when I was confident enough that I could perfectly balance this thing; I took my next step and put my left foot on left pedal and instead of putting my right leg through the bars to the right pedal I braved myself and scrambled my right leg OVER the middle bar…. and got stuck…. My right leg hanging on the bar. I couldn’t push myself up and throw my leg all the way down nor could I pull my right leg back to my body (which was hanging on left side of the bike.)

It was around three in the afternoon and no one was in site who could help me; so I just glided awkwardly thru the deserted lane, not knowing what to do and too nervous to brake because I knew my left leg wouldn’t reach the ground either. I was stuck bad.

At the end of the lane there was a shrub and this seemed my last chance and I turned the bike that way without thinking and dashed right into the shrub.

When I got back home, walking with my neighbor’s bike with stinging hands and legs, covered all over in scratches; I took my neighbor’s bike to his closed door and placed it quietly on the wall of his house. The bike was alright except a few scratches, but I knew he’ll know. That was the last time I borrowed his bike.

After a month I got my Hercules and I used to ride it all over the town, until, after two months, it was snapped in two pieces by a speeding motorcycle. But that’s another story.