Circumstances caused the need for me to visit Perungudi for ten days these  semester hols. For the non- chennaites, its a far off suburb way about an hour from anywhere. And my mode of transportation – the MTC. So naturally, I was overwhelmed with gratitude when my kindly uncle offered the use of his scooty pep for the duration of his trip out of station.
The first day – Let me tell you frankly, I do not profess to possess any amazing driving skills. I don’t even (or rather didn’t) know how to kick start a vehicle. And this baby wouldn’t start off without this form of petting. While leaving home, my brother very graciously (amidst much taunts) did the honours for me, and I thankfully reached there in 1 piece after handling all the nakras of an unknown quantity – the scooty pep.  After the visit, it was time to get back. And I kicked the vehicle and shook it, pleaded with it short of begging and did everything possible to get it to start for nearly half an hour. Just as I was about to give up, one of the carpentry workers there who had been clearly enjoying the drama offered to lend a hand. One kick and the pep was purring happily. Maanam out! (Major nose-cut). Anyway I very sweetly thanked him and got home mumbling madly about crazy temperamental machines.
Day 2 -The next morning, I took a crash course on kick-starting the bike and very confidently set off after proving my worth in 3-4 tries. I should tell you that I’m an absolute dunce at topographical identification also. So off i go, thinking after all it’s only a long straight road to Perungudi and I already know the landmarks, what more do I need. So much for my confidence, 20 mins of cruising later, I’m still frantically searching for my so called prominent landmark while i stumble right into the tollgate. Lucky, I managed to avoid banging into all the vehicles queued up. After I swerve around the toll guy screaming at my inept driving, I was left wondering how come I did not notice this gate before. Yet another 15 minutes later, I see a board on my left proudly proclaiming “Welcome to Sholinganallur Panchayat’ . Wow, I’d actually crossed city limits. Then I very sheepidhly turned back around and went a long long way down when I realized I’d missed the turn just before the toll gate.
Day 3 – I sent a prayer up there and had an uneventful journey to my destination. After a relaxed visit, I went casually to the scooty pep, opened up the seat, stowed my bag, and put on my helmet very self – importantly. Then I banged down the seat 2-3 times as it was giving trouble to stay down. Finally I succeeded and sat down only to realize that the keys aren’t going into the ignition. I’d taken out the wrong set of keys and the real one was very safely now locked under the seat. Then followed a frantic series of calls to my aunt to find a spare set of keys. I managed to trudge all the way to my aunt’s place (on borrowed bus money), collect the keys, relate the story, beg her not to tell anyone, grab a bite and rush back to Perungudi in about an hour. Then I took the pep back home and strove to coolly stride in without showing any emotion. Major effort that.  Little surprise I was more than ecstatic to return the vehicle to my uncle the very next day. Whew!