My poor car has been begging for attention for some time now and (after a little incident last night) I decided it was high time I just bit the bullet and went to the mechanics. Despite moans and groans from the gari, I've been resisting this for a while now because - in Pakistan - car mechanics are somewhat an exclusively male domain. Those of you who read old English romances would know that there was a street in London (St. James I believe) that was taboo for a gentry-bred woman to pass through. Something similar can be said about car workshops. True-or-not, fact is I've never been very tempted to explore that particular dimension of society. So much so, that the last time the car made noises I imported the brother from Karachi to Islamabad so he could do the honors. Unfortunately, this time round no such option was available.
So mommy got me a number from the guy who maintains our cars in Karachi, and I toted it to the back of beyond (actually, I-10 but believe you me I'd probably never be able to find my back again) to the Honda sales, spare-parts and service center. Once there, I realized that if I was uncomfortable about going to the mechanics workshop, they were confounded at my presence. They kept shooting me of from manager to manager as if wondering what to do with me. I must confess, however, I did get the royal treatment. Instead of waiting with the (male) masses in a sparse room, I was escorted to a comfortable desk (with *gasp* an internet connection) so that I could complete my work while my brakes were being fixed. They also gave me tea. Ofcourse, they also charged me a whopping 13K, but atleast they were nice about it.
In the spirit of one-lives-one-learns, let me share what I've picked up from my semi-traumatic morning. I have discovered that maintaining a car is expensive. I don't like it. Life was much simpler when daddy took care of all these things. I have realized that getting your car fixed is a process very much akin to getting medical treatment. You have many choices: there is the quack at almost every street corner who is cheap but there's no guarantee (once he's through with you) if you'll survive the treatment. There is the jack-of-all-trades GP who's good for the little things, but completely out of his depth once the matter becomes even a little complex. And then there are the specialists, like the one I went to today who charge a whopping fee for a very tiny procedure, proceed to tell you what's wrong with you and refer you ahead to other expensive specialists. Chances are you'll survive the treatment, however your bank account will die a speedy death. According to my new mechanic friend, now that the brake pads are all changed and everything (and I am no longer in danger of dying an ignominious death on the streets of Islamabad) I should now proceed (with my check-book in hand) to the denter-painter guy (who has something to look at underneath my car) and then the tire-guy who will replace the wheels I have. It occurs to me that maybe I have made a huge mistake opening this Pandora's box. Perhaps, if I had resisted placing myself at the mechanics doorstep, I could have avoided this. Now, it seems I'm destined to be a regular visitor to various kinds of car-treatment people. *sigh*