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Jump off the 'jugaad'

punjab Updated: Apr 29, 2013 19:12 IST
Rajbir Deswal
Rajbir Deswal
Hindustan Times
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Yes, I am talking about the same state-of-the-art, indigenous fabrication called 'jugaad' in north India. It does have an engine and moves on four wheels, albeit like a Christmas tree. You don't need to wear the seat belt since there isn't any. Even the brakes are applied differently as if you are part of a tug-of-war competition. The steering wheel revolves like the earth's axis - tilted. There is no bonnet here but two round, bulging eye-like hollow sockets, a dimly-lit apology for headlights. No, you don't even have an ignition key.


The 'jugaad' is handle-started. Seats? Well, don't you remember Saif Ali Khan preferring to sit on a pillow, having travelled in a truck with his posterior thumped enough in 'Dil Chahta Hai'?

On a serious note, cops find it difficult to challan the 'jugaad' since it is not recognised as a vehicle under the Motor Vehicles Act. Thus, even claiming damages in case of an accident becomes ticklish. The Punjab and Haryana high court banned the plying of 'jugaads'. But they can be seen around still, like audacious hair on a socialite's nose, which refuse to succumb to tweezers since they have the right to grow there - unchecked.

I am reminded of a joke when NASA had difficulty propelling a US spaceship. It did not respond to the countdown, which just fizzled out. They consulted Santa, who asked the scientists to tilt the rocket 'a little bit'. They did so and began the countdown again: "…three, two, one, go!" Lo and behold! The rocket soared into the skies. The scientists sought to know from Santa, who said it was all 'jugaad' technique and he had been tilting his scooter back in India, which obliged with the engine revving up with a kick.

While in high school at St Theresa's Convent, I made a bell ring continuously in the busy lanes and bylanes of the crowded Karnal market. I removed my bike bell and attached it with a flexible metallic chord to the tyre; it was triggered when the chord was kept pulled up. So, instead of a tring-tring, it was a longish mini-hooter like trunnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn! And I became a hero who could invent and fabricate a 'jugaad', though I had to change my stream from science to humanities, not being able to grasp valencies and velocity potential.

Another joke I recall is about a 'jugaad' driver who was charged with causing an accident. The judge asked the passenger-witnesses if the driver applied brakes on time and whether he was at fault. They said in one voice, "No, your honour, no! The driver isn't at fault at all. He, in fact, had announced, almost barking, that if one wanted to save one's life, this was the time to jump!"