Your car mechanic can solve the Kashmir problem

Civilization has evolved to the level of putting man on the moon (though nobody knows why). Mankind has reached the point of making computers small enough to fit the palm (and then complain technology has become irritatingly intrusive). Science has come to the stage of unscrambling the DNA (and not figuring out what to do after). The point I am labouring about is the world is forever moving forward and finding new and newer horizons of excellence and then wondering why it did it. Yet, for all the advancements made in all spheres of human activity, automobile mechanics continue to be where they started off from.

They began their evolutionary climb as being unreliable and inscrutable, and they remain stuck there. Ever since the wheel was invented, it has remained unbalanced as the mechanic is still working on it. It is not without reason that the good book said: Show me a happy man, I will show that he has not yet met an automobile mechanic.

In many ways, mechanics are like doctors. Ok, slightly more reliable. But physicians have had to make do with the same model, while the mechanics have been able to work on different types. But no matter what the model is, mechanics have the same approach – the one guaranteed to make the vehicle owner to tear his hair in greasy helplessness.

You take your perfectly running car to a mechanic and say that the music system is conking off and on. The mechanic will seem as if he is hearing you. But he is not. He understands only automobilese, by which I mean he does not listen to you. And a true mechanic also doesn’t start working on the music system straight away. If he does, you may want to write this down, he is not a mechanic at all.

A true mechanic will take the key from you and perkily drive the car around, come back after what seems years, and declare with finality: ‘The clutch slips.’ You must not wince. You must also not protest that you came to him only to rectify the faulty music system. Mechanics say bad things about the clutch even if you go to them just to ask for directions to a particular address. They say this to the postman who comes to drop the letters. They say this to the ward boy who is wheeling them into the operation theatre. Clutch and mechanics are nature born enemies. Mechanics always complain about clutch. Or maybe we don’t know, the clutch actually malfunctions whenever a mechanic is at the wheel.

To get back to the point that we were at, if you ask what has clutch got to do with the music system, the mechanic will not be impressed. Mechanics generally aren’t impressed at all by anything. You may ask them 100 questions, but their replies will not even begin to answer the questions you asked.

Anyway, if you ask him overlook the clutch problem, he will probably bring up the creaky suspension, which in a normal car, is a default setting created at the manufacturer’s shop floor itself. In general you must be a fool to engage your mechanic in conversation, because you’re only presenting him on a platter a chance to bring up all that are wrong with your car. And trust me, your car has 1001 things wrong at any given point. If you are lucky, and if your mechanic is kind, he will not say that your car is suffering from leprosy. But you never know.

After all this, your immediate urge would be to get away from the mechanic’s garage, and to hell with the music system. But the moment you take your car away from the mechanic, the same car, which till a few minutes ago had been purring along joyfully, would begin to show signs of splutter and spatter. The clutch will indeed slip. Probably clutch slips are infectious and cars can contract them if people in the vicinity are merely talking about them.

But when you go back to the mechanic, this time he will not attend to the clutch. He will again take the car on a drive and come back and not say anything. He will open the hood of the car and peer enigmatically into the welter of wires, mechanical links and assorted motorised parts. He will tweak a few connections, tap some other parts, and then emerge out of the confusion and wipe his oily fingers with a cloth that would seem to have spent a lifetime in a grease well (wiping-towels in a mechanic’s garage, by law, need to be dirtier than what it is supposed to clean). After this obligatory ritual, the mechanic will pronounce that the entire assembly has to be replaced. No, this does not necessarily mean that elections have to be held again. This simply means that you have to shell out several thousand rupees for the mechanic to keep the vehicle in his garage and return it when he wishes to, as there is no recorded history of any mechanic returning the vehicle on the day he first agreed to.

My suspicion is your mechanic engages the vehicle in some sort of dialogue process, like they do in the Kashmir tangle, which only makes matters worse. If your mechanic says change the clutch plate, those dealing with the Kashmir issue are forever clamouring: ‘Engage them in a dialogue process’.

If you find a mechanic who does not complain about the clutch or the  suspension, just hold on to him. He may be the one who can help us solve the Kashmir problem.

At any rate, he can’t be worse than the jokers who have been solving the Kashmir imbroglio since 1947.