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Back in the 1970s, most of us owned only two-stroke two-wheelers. I owned a scooter which I carted around on my postings from station to station. It was a trusty machine, which I tended personally, doing the routine oil change and other work. Because of my experience working in a garage in the six months between my school ending and college starting, I had purchased the tools and retained the interest to do repair and overhaul jobs myself.

Prior to my posting to Missamari in Assam in 1976, I had somewhat neglected my scooter, because my spare time was mostly spent with family. I had diagnosed the need for decarbonising the engine, because the kick-starter would sometimes kick back, but kept postponing it.

My posting in Missamari was in an appointment which demanded much time and attention. Indeed, my wife did all the shopping and sundry chores, using the scooter. And she was having trouble starting it.

Missamari of those days had a very small market place, boasting only one rather inexperienced mechanic. With the self-importance of my skill and experience with machines, I did not want to entrust my scooter to a youngster.

So decarb was further postponed. One holiday morning, my wife complained that it was too difficult for her to start the scooter. So we went down together to our garage, me in “holiday wear” wearing Hawai chappals. When I depressed the kick-starter, it snapped back, and since I was wearing chappals, the kick-starter pedal painfully struck the underside of my foot and a metatarsal was fractured.

My lower leg was put into a plaster cast in the Military Hospital, and I was granted a few days’ sick leave. My downstairs neighbour Ganapathy asked what had happened when he saw my leg in plaster. When told how it happened, he was quite amused and unbelieving that a scooter kick-starter could cause a fracture.

With little to do at home, I decided that it was high time to decarb the engine. So I carried down the tools and a low stool for sitting on, to the garage. The engine was taken down easily, and I decided to do a thorough overhaul.

The engine and its subsystems were all stripped down and strewn over half the garage, with me sitting on the stool in the middle, my plaster leg sticking out. It must have been a strange sight, because Ganapathy happened to come by at that time and burst out laughing.

I did not find anything funny, and curtly asked him what was there to laugh about. He said, “I see you are taking revenge on your scooter!”, and went on his way, still laughing loudly.

sg9kere@live.com


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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 9:12:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/tinker-tales/article37136808.ece

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