Yet another year goes by and I said goodbye to the previous year with some yuuuuuummy black forest cake...
And ushered in the new year the very next day with some nectar-like palpayasam from Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple - aah, the advantage of having an official birthday and a star birthday!!! And this year, both fell on consecutive days too!
DH has bought me a huge gift that fills me both with the tingles of anticipation and tremors of anxiety. Here's a sneak peek. Can you guess what it is?
Can't guess? Anyone who called me on my birthday knows by now. So let me show it to you...
Yup, it's a gently-used almost-two-year-old scooter. This is the beastie that I have been learning to tame since last September.
The last time I tried to master this skill was when I was 27 and just married. DH and DSIL decided one fine morning that I needed to learn how to drive a scooter. DSIL's trusty Kinetic Honda was pressed into service. My masters selected an excellent beginner's course for me - if they had chosen the moon's most asteroid-pitted patch they could not have done better. As I straddled the scooter for the first time, I gazed out upon a bouldery incline with all sizes of stones from the minuscule to the gigantic. My first challenge was to drive the scooter up a slight incline and get to the next level where an even steeper incline awaited me. My DSIL helpfully pointed out the throttle to me and stepped aside while DH (brave soul that he is) beckoned me encouragingly from my target point. As I gingerly gave some power, the scooter barely made it over a fist-sized stone immediately before me. So my instructors told me to open the throttle as much as I could in order to go up the incline. In doing so they also made a tiny novice-instructor mistake – kind of like Arjuna did. So a la Abhimanyu, I went up the incline majestically in full throttle, crossed my intended path and slammed into the stone wall opposite and gently toppled to one side – yup, they had just omitted to tell me when to brake...
Damage - a little paint off the scooter, a bit of paint off my knees and a hideously swollen ring finger. The wall looked ok to me.
Fast forward 10 years and last September, DH leaned heavily on me to learn to drive a scooter once again in the totally altruistic cause of making me independent transport-wise. This time he generously offered to pay for lessons so that whatever spills I took and vehicles and walls I damaged would be the school's responsibility. DSIL did offer to send me her Kinetic by train, but I politely declined. My gallant steed on the first day of class was a battered Pleasure which was missing its headlights and several other things. My instructor helpfully walked behind me holding on to the handle behind while I hopped and bumped with both feet on the ground. The second day my teacher left me to my own devices and I went for several rounds of walking with the scooter around the yard. On the third day I put up my left foot on the floor board, but it had this tendency to jump off at the slightest wobble. By the fifth day I astonished myself by being able to put both feet on the floor board and managing to stay on course even though I wobbled horribly and was in imminent danger of driving into the boundary wall or the house on several occasions. However, the Pleasure was done for. Over the next several weeks, his throttle was so shot that either I had to push the scooter up and down the yard or it was stuck at full throttle when one had to just use the brake to drive the scooter. Those were the dangerous days when my fellow-students and I held our lives in our hands while trying to tame the Pleasure.
Fed up by the temperamental throttle and inexplicable swoons, our instructor finally got us a new vehicle - a TVS XL HD. Trying it out, I realized for the first time that one didn't have to strain one's arms and shoulders trying to turn a scooter and that the wind in one's face is quite enjoyable. But I was destined for the next torture - The 8!!! By this time, I had had a gap of a month from my earlier study period and although I could zip around the yard without incident, for two weeks I could do nothing but again go into my crawling mode as I went round and round among the iron bar markers making no progress. Several of my fellow students were in the same predicament as I was and we sat together wondering whether we'd ever be able to accomplish at least one 8 to save our lives. Reports also came in of several students failing at the DMV's test at 8s. I was almost ready to give up when one fine day I astonished myself and my compatriots by completing one 8 without putting down my foot even once! I was so surprised and elated that I let out a whoop that resounded through the whole neighborhood! After that I've got to the point where I can take several 8s continuously.
So now here I am, looking forward to my test date with a scooter of my own, waiting to take it out for a practice run as soon as we get a chance to take it to the local temple and have a pooja done. Yep, I've got a pretty cool helmet too. If you come over next weekend, you can see me trying out my new scooter skills at the Maruppancode ground, early in the morning!
And it all goes to show - any old dog can learn new tricks!!!
This post is dedicated to any one who thinks that they are too long in the tooth to learn something new. It might take a bit more practice and a little more time, but you can do it!!!!