The Diesel Dawdler

There you are at the red light.
Second in line. In the first lane.
The signal turns green.
You are all systems go. The guy in front refuses to budge.
Your civic sense makes you refrain from honking.
You wait. And wait some more.
By this time your heart is sinking with the painful realization:
The vehicle in front of you is a diesel car!

I don’t know the anatomy of the diesel car engine. I don’t know the physics of torque and BHP either. I just know that diesel engines, (or vehicles that have them) don’t move the way they should. And especially when they should.
I only wish the owners of these vehicles knew that. And if they do know that, I wish they would accept the harsh reality of a diesel vehicle… they dawdle. They simply dawdle.

Seen reluctant children been dragged to school by enthusiastic parents? The children are sleepy, irritated or outright bawling. Yet the parent smiles brightly at everyone around as if their enthusiasm compensates for a reluctant child.
The diesel car is somewhat like this child. Owned by an enthusiastic parent who dreams of doing the impossible. He is a guy who encouraged by Shaw ‘dreams of things that never were and says Why not?’. Now I am not one to discourage the leaders of tomorrow to achieve the impossible but a diesel engine trying to pick up speed in the first lane is not impossible, it just plain Darwinian stupidity. It’s against the law of nature. It’s not meant to be.

I am told that it takes the diesel engine some time to warm up. But once that happens, it can take on any petrol car. Now if anyone can understand that I can. But surely diesel car owners know that it takes about half an hour of running for the engine to really get warmed up? In a city like Mumbai, try getting half an hour of steady running. And then allow the first-gear-second-gear-stop-again traffic to let you take on anything… even a cow.

Picture this.
A flyover. Peak hour traffic. And a diesel beauty in the first lane.
The second lane occupied by a truck. The third by a bus.
And you, lucky you, are in the first lane, skipping along to work, just in time for the important meeting with the powers-that-be. For once, you are singing.
And then it happens.
You spy with your narrowed eye the diesel car! Right in front of you.
You hit it! Not the accelerator… the panic button.
You look around for an alternative. No way. The second lane has an over laden truck. The third a school bus. No one is giving you time of day.
No one is giving you way. So you wait for the diesel engine to accede. But not a chance.

The owner belongs to ‘I have a dream’ category, and today his dream is to go from 0 to 60 in 10 seconds flat. Give up dreaming, man, and let me go, you think, as you tailgate the diesel dawdler and pray for the heavens to part the highway lanes. Nothing like that is happening, of course. Divine intervention is probably busy with more important issues.

Your patience is wearing out. You flash your headlights. No effect. You now proceed to honk. Bad idea. The dreamer now has an ego issue. He will not go. Will not let others go. He will dawdle. After all, that comes naturally to him.

Now for all those who have diesel cars, I have a little advice to give you. It comes from really, really understanding the essence of diesel cars. Understanding, because I have spent countless frustrated moments behind one or the other.

Dear friend, just park your car on the side, pat it lovingly on its shiny bonnet and give it a nice name. Start with Plato. Move on to Aristotle. Want to get radical? Nietzsche? Camus? Just plain simple accept that your car is a philosophical car. When asked to accelerate: It thinks. Then moves. No leap- before-you-look in a generation brought up on speed. What more would you want out of a travel companion in this day and age?

So please go ahead and do this quickly. And when you are going to do this, please, please do let me know. Because that’s the exact moment that I would like to overtake. Me? I am still part of the rat race!

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