Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Car Washing

Before the world was connected by the Web, there used to be a certain lag time in cultural trends moving across borders of countries and continents. As a result, college kids in India were reading The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in the 80s and 90s - it was just one of those books that you had to read because everyone else you knew had. I picked it up from a room-mate and even managed to complete reading it - a feat in itself given the subject matter.

The only thing that has remained with me of the book is the luscious prose Prising employed to describe everything it took to keep a piece of machinery in top condition. The passion was palpable. The only thing I have ever owned is a car and while I follow the service schedule meticulously, I can't really be bothered with making it looking shiny and new all the time. I figure I can get that taken care of professionally when it is time for me to sell or trade in my car.

My parents are visiting these days and dad can't bear the car's exterior neglect. So one weekend, J, grandpa and I spent a few hours washing and cleaning the car. It was hard work and took up a whole morning but I could not deny the sense of satisfaction I felt after we were done. My neighbor downstairs cleans his late model Infinti religiously almost every other Saturday.

Sometimes I watch him at work and think about that Prising book I read a long time ago. He goes about the job with a single-mindedness that is hard to miss. It is like the whole world has coalesced into the orb that contains him and his car. Meditation could not look a lot different than this. I can get that way when I am spring cleaning my apartment or putting some order back into my chaotic kitchen or book shelves. Auto maintenance may not be my thing but the Zen of cleaning and caring for things is undeniable.

No comments: