I am going offtrack today.

As per my schedule, 29th and 30th were for technical training. Level 3 engine troubleshooting. One to one training with a technician from Salalah branch, nearly 1000 km away. 29th was the third day and the trainee was to test his skills on some artificially created faults. The car was ready, the faults were set… I was printing the activity sheets on 28th evening when I got a call from a remote branch, Sur, 300 km away, asking for emergency technical support. An engine was not starting. It was not cranking either. A passenger car with advanced keyless entry system. The technician from Salalah was halfway through. I can’t cancel the training. I can’t delay my trip to Sur either. What to do? Suddenly the thought came to me, why can’t the Salalah technician test his skills on a natural fault rather than on some artificially created ones? We hit the road by seven on 29th morning. What happened there, what we found,… all I am leaving for another post. I am going offtrack. Something happened on the way which seemed very strange to me. Something at a level much higher than automobile technology!

I let the technician take the steering. I had to go through a technical information manual on advanced keyless entry systems.

Nearly eighty kilometer later we stopped at a small wayside coffe shop. An occassional coffee is a good idea when you are on long drives.

A little history…

I am from the southern part of Kerala, a small south Indian state. This technician… from the north eastern hills of the same state. As a fresh engineering gradute I had worked in a technical  institute at his place years ago. A place famous for its coffe and tea plantations, waterfalls and flora and fauna. I spent three years there…three years that I cherish in the innermost part of my heart. A place where I made great plans about my future, a place that made me write short stories, and…and…the place where I met a very very beautiful girl. Though none of the plans I made there materialized, though I am yet to show someone the stories I wrote there, though I could not muster enough courage to tell the girl  that I found her very beautiful…  I still consider those years as wonderful.

Back to the coffee shop…

We parked the car and were walking towards the shop when suddenly the technican started speaking about a particular place near the institute I worked. I could not hide my surprise, as, like a flash, memories of the same place had just started pouring in my mind as well and at the same time he also mentioned that place. Thousands of kilometers across the sea, in a different country, in front of a small coffee shop among scattered mountains, why both of us happen to think of a particular place in our home country seemed strange. There was nothing to remind us of that place.

It was a lonely place. A stretch of mountainous road lay ahead. There was no one else in the vicinity. The coffeshop was open. The electric kettle was on. We couldnot find anyone in the counter. We entered the shop. No one inside. We walked around. On the back side we found a thin man, standing, lost in thoughts, completely unaware of the surroundings, his eyes pointed towards east. East is where the sea is… and our home land…

May be our footsteps, he suddenly came back to this world. He saw us, made a strange sound of exclamation, rushed towards the technician and hugged him… They were old friends, from the same village in India, meeting after fourteen years. He was meeting someone from his village the first time he returned from home five years ago…Both were in tears…

His family lives very near to the institute where I worked, the same place which both of us were thinking about, more correct to say, forced to think about, when we were walking towards the shop.

Extra sensory perception is an old subject…

Soon we were on the road again. I went back to the advanced keyless entry system manual.

The advanced keyless control module is the brain of the system. It will be sending out radio waves through the keyless antennas in the car and maintaining a field around them. When an advanced key is within the field, the micro chip inside will respond to the field and transmits its unique identity. There is a receiver who collects the identity and transmits it to…

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