Monday, April 05, 2004

Mr. Scooty 

My Scooty is about 50 cc's of monsterpower; he has a black seat that gets scalding hot when it sees sun and a forrest green trunk that gets lighter when the mud dries on it and his name proudly emblazoned on the side: “Scooty”! He grunts and moans when I have a second person join us on ventures, complaining at the added weight and losing what minimal suspension he has so every pothole (of which there are more than stars) is a deep valley we pass over with thunks and clunks, every piece of gravel (of which most roads are made of, since it rained) a hill we recover from with a firm grasp on the steering wheel and a soft eye on the road. One time he even granted us a flat back wheel when we took him to town, which the owner of the store we bought fabrics from had fixed at “no charge”.

Scooty rocks, man. We have been known to hit 30 kilometers, which is probably about 18 miles, when I give him all the gas that he's got and we are moving down hill- lorries and buses beware when Tina and Mr. Scooty are approaching!! I may have to invest in one of those massive horns popular with autorickshaw drivers, that emit a deep low loud HONK that should belong to far larger vehicles and are meant to inspire terror and respect amongst lesser vehicles. Scooty rocks, man. He has allowed freedom from rickshaws and haggling and black exhaust and detours and wondering how I’ll get home, and beauty of breeze as we coast down hills and red neck as the sun catches up to us and mobility at all hours, if need be.

Me? I adore driving here. Like with asana practice, you need to stay strong while pliant, soft and calm while firm and grounded, to allow for surrender as you claim your space and ease within that. If you have doubt or fear or get tense, your chances of getting hurt are higher since sudden starts and mindless reacting endanger both your equilibrium and your vehicle. Like the practice, driving follows a predetermined set pattern, but is different every day, since every day there is different stuff going on. And hesitant as I might be sometimes to go for it, when I have finished my ride I am glad I took the road in the first place. Or: remember those Nintendo games from the 80s where you would dodge and jump and avoid stuff? Like Donkey Kong, where the gorilla jumps over barrels coming at him with ever more speed and frequency, or Mario Bros. where little men avoid the bad stuff and get points for finding the good.

Much has been said of driving here, the elaborate games of chicken that unfold daily on dirt paths and highways alike. The car caste is very clearly defined, here. Lorries (multi-colored and sometimes garlanded and often named abut always massive) and buses, then smaller trucks and larger cars, then smaller cars and little vans, then rickshaws (although you would think they are right up there with the first group, with the amount of them you see driving in the middle of the road or on the right, impossible to overtake even as the top out at about 20kms. Rickshaw school for sure offers courses on large-ego development, as they are the kamikazies of the roads and to be respected or they will ram you. Finally you have motorcycles who get to bully mopeds (family of three on old Vespa subservient to young man on new Kinetic), who get to bully bicyclists, who can scare pedestrians, who stop for few anyway. Everyone stops for cows. I want a Tshirt: "I brake for cows".

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