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25 December 2016

The new mechanic in town...

My grand father purchased a car in 1947, exactly on the day the country got independence, 15th August, 1947. He named it Economy. At the time he purchased it, there were a lot of challenges. The automotive technology was at its infancy, there were hardly any good drivers available, mechanics were few and far between, road infrastructure was bad etc were some of the challenges that he faced. He faced these challenges head on and soldiered on with his new car. He used it for over 20 years before passing the same to my father.

My dad used it for over 30 years. Over time Economy had some problems, there was some wear and tear, there were a couple of accidents, one in 1965 and another in '71 and the performance of the car slowly deteriorated.

And on one fine day in 1991, Economy stalled. It could not go on.

There was crisis all around, an expert mechanic, well versed in new global technology and with years of experience in vehicle repair was brought in to repair it.

He completely overhauled Economy. The car was repainted, refurbished, modern engine running on latest technology was fitted, imported spare parts were installed and the drivers were given clear and new driving instructions.

That was the condition in which I received Economy. The car quickly integrated itself with the new technology and the new mode of driving. The improvement in performance was mind boggling.Fuel efficiency almost trebled from about 3 Kmph before 90s to almost 9 Kmph consistently over about 20 years.

I maintained it very well with regular checkups and occasional changes in spare parts. I drove it over long distances. The drive was a pleasure. Economy was chugging along very smoothly.

Over the last 15 years or so, I observed some noise coming out of the car. Minimal noise. Not major. Something that I could Ignore.

I took it to various mechanics. They suggested a few tweaks here and there. They specifically recommended against any radical action, the argument was that Economy was in excellent condition. General opinion was that the noise was a localized problem and needed a localized, targeted solution. A 'Carpet Bomb' solution was discarded by almost all the mechanics that I spoke to.

About two years ago, a new mechanic came to our town. He was touted by his marketing team as the best mechanic ever to have graced the country. There was nothing he could not do. There was no problem that he could not solve, there was no technical issues with the car that he could not repair.

I took Economy to the mechanic and told him about the minor noise. I specifically told him that Economy is running beautifully, much better than the cars belonging to my friends.

He listened to my words and to sounds coming from Economy.

"Economy needs a total overhaul. There are noises all over and it has to be entirely dismantled and refitted with new spare parts", he told me.

He sounded so authoritative that I could not ask him some basic counter questions like, what is the basis of his observations, how good are his support staff, how can only he be right and all the other mechanics be wrong, does he have all the required spare parts and most importantly what is his experience and what are the facts based on which he has come to this judgement.

In other words I blindly trusted him.

How long will it take to overhaul and retrofit the car? I enquired

It will take about 10 days, he told me. For about 10 days you will have to bear short term pain. But imagine the long term pleasure that you could experience, he said pointing a rosy future for Economy. It will run as smooth as a gazelle and as fast as a Cheetah. This will far outrun your friend's car in the long run, he assured me.

I asked him to go ahead.

It has been almost 7 days since I handed over the car to him. Every day I follow up. The experience has not been good till now. I see lot of people waiting in front of his workshop waiting for his intervention. It takes about 4-5 hours just to meet him. When I ask about the status, the responses are curt and terse (Unlike the marketing spiel that he used to give when he was seeking business). Spare parts are ordered, they are yet to arrive, he tells me. Some of his staff fell sick and he is trying to find a new support staff to take over the pending work. After dismantling my car, he found that he did not have replacement for some spare parts. Work is slow, can't you see that this is festival season and staff will not be available?

He still assures delivery in the next four days.

Also he told me that, for the next 6 months or so, Economy will go back to the pre-90s level of performance. Only when it adjusts to the new spare parts will it rev up and zoom like a cheetah.

"In the long run, Economy is going to be awesome", he has promised me.

One lives on hope.

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