My 4 year old was to go on a field trip and the usual morning rush was accelerated to 32x. We raced through showers, breakfast and the drive to the school, until the moment when everything came to a standstill. Not exactly a standstill, because the front right wheel of the car was still spinning, as I drove the left one into a huge manhole. I use the term manhole euphemistically, because actually, it was a huge crater where a couple of tiles covering a river of sewage had just fallen in. So there we were, teetering at an angle of at least 20 degrees above the underground world of sewage. Has the car fallen down, my child giggled. Sort of, I said, before I jumped out of the italicized car.
By the time I dropped my daughter off and came back to the car, a small crowd had collected to watch our desi version of the tower of Pisa. Which was the luckiest thing that could happen, because these very same people picked up the front of the car and hoisted it out of the hole in the ground. I drove off to my favourite coffee shop for some r & r, and a long awaited brunch with my sisters.
Minutes after I had bragged about my buddha-like calmness while handling the car episode, the school called. My daughter had refused to get into the bus, and had decided to stay back at school instead. They said she was calm now, which didn't leave much about the past hour to the imagination. My calm mask slipped considerably as I rushed back to school, slowing down only near the crater.
And then things degenerated further. A soggy lunch at mcd (clearly the trauma of the morning had left my child's passion for happy meal toys untouched), a sister getting stressed out about getting delayed for work, and a crazy rush to drop my other sister off to her bus to mumbai (which included two evil arguments during the drive) followed.
And then, as we were returning, I spotted a small bicycle shop. I stopped the car, this was the closest I had got to my new year resolution to exercise regularly. We walked in, and behind a curtain of crotch guards and strange gloves was a man. A lean, toned man, the kind who instantly makes other people suck in their paunches and stop breathing. I asked him without pointing (my arm jiggle has graduated to an oscillation to rival church bells) about a couple of the things on sale. We chatted for a while about cross country cycling spots in the city, and the biking group he belonged to. I told him that I owned a bike that hadn't been ridden for a while, and he asked for my number so that he could update me on biking events.
He also asked me when I had bought my bike and where. When I told him, the man got very animated. "Bring it here" he suggested excitedly. "We'll service your bike for you. It's not often that we get a chance to look at vintage models".
This was the worst blow of the day. What did they call owners of vintage bikes? Victorian? Neanderthal? I swear I felt distinctly arthritic as I walked out of the shop, clutching my child's hand for support. The only bright spot is that I'll forget all about this very soon... isn't short term memory the first thing to go when you age?