“Aha… you are here!”

I was meeting Hassan after a long time.

I remember very clearly, it was the day before the National day, six years ago, we met the last time.

We had parted not on very friendly terms that afternoon.

I did not know that he came in after a near fist fight with the body shop manager over a body repair in one of his sports cars that day.

Hassan, when I first met him, was, a flourishing hotelier, crazy about cars, and a die-hard fan of Mitsubishi Evo.

He reminded me of the illustrations of Emperors in school history text books.

“Yes boss” he was beaming with pride… “if you climb that ladder like DNA of mine, you can reach those great warriors you see in history text books…”

“I didn’t know that you were here!”

“Come with me…my car… ohohoh… you still remembering that!… that was just a joke man!… I couldn’t say sorry … the next day I left for Malaysia… almost one month… they said you left… how many years now dear!?”

He gave me a scare of a lifetime that day.

He took me in his Evo and straight went to the royal automotive club race track…

He wanted to show me some noise at high speeds…

I like speed… But 200 plus!

On the third lap I told something which offended him…

“I have a doubt engineer… lucky you are here… to be honest I never found someone as helpful as you are… come on… I want to show you something”

“When did you join Mazda?”

“I divorced my Evo…Miata is my queen now… I don’t like to call her MX5… Miata…  I don’t like the Xs… Miata my sweetie!”

“My son is crazy… cars! cars! and only cars!… yeah… you are right… like father like son…”

“He is pestering me with this…”

A quick juggling with the throttle, steering and hand brake… and the vehicle slid ninety degree into the parking lot of the fish market…

“What exactly happens now… that’s his doubt… I know you can help me… do tell me engineer… you studied automobile engineering…didn’t you?”

It was not the first time… Hassan derives some secret pleasure in cornering people like this…

“Hassan…it is Physics…may be a little difficult to understand…I can explain… but…”

“There is something which you don’t know dear… I was at Melbourne when I had to pack my bags to Swiss Alps… I was studying Physics there… One more year was all that I needed when the old man decided to put all these hotels on my shoulder… Rashid said no… so he is teaching architecture at YXXX… a happy man… I was afraid to say no… old man was very dangerous… I can understand a little Physics…”

“Let me try Hassan… the last time I explained this to undergraduates was fifteen years ago…”                                                                 Friction Circle rev.

He stared at the friction circle for a few seconds, then at me.

“Hassan, let us start like this…you are going straight towards art gallery…you are near pepsi now… you want to go to the fishing harbor… what you do now?… forget the hand brake!… you turn the steering a little to right… isn’t it?…the front wheels are at an angle now…not straight…they roll at an angle…the vehicle follows the direction in which the front wheels are rolling… right? … the vehicle follows the tire… right?”

“Engineer, what is so special in this? You want to take a turn… you turn steering wheel… it is natural… you turn the steering wheel, the front wheel makes an angle, and the vehicle follows the tire…“

“Hassan, one moment… a little imagination, the tarmac has turned into ice…I am sure you had been on ice… will it be the same?”

“You are putting me on ice!…thin ice?…just kidding bro…ice!… ice at pepsi round about! I will soon be picking shells along with my queen …”

“Why?!… friction, man!…friction!… between tire and road… there is no friction on ice…”

“You are right…frictional force between road and the tire in lateral direction during cornering… there are other forces also, acting on the tire road interface…during acceleration and braking… the vehicle has inertia…it will try to move straight… but you steer…the tire is at an angle …vehicle will follow the tires if this force of friction between road and tire balances the force of inertia of the vehicle”

“Otherwise skidding…I remember engineer… yawing…rolling…pitching…I remember everything! The maximum friction force that the tire can withstand at any point is the red circle, limit of tire grip…isn’t it?”

“Exactly”

“So when I turned the steering a little, the vehicle started to move in a circle… the frictional forces on the tires were keeping the vehicle on course…and when I applied the hand brake, the braking force on the rear wheel increased…so the lateral forces that could be sustained by the tire came down… clockwise yaw!…the same will happen if I suddenly accelerate during cornering… but the yaw will be… will it be the same? … it depends… front wheel drive or rear wheel drive…isn’t it? now I remember everything! I forgot his name… he once said physics does not need an automobile mechanic and an automobile mechanic does not need physics, but a race driver needs both… I forgot his name”

“Hassan… physics and automobile mechanic?!… I think it was science and philosophy… I too don’t remember the guy who told that”

“Engineer, it is science and mysticism… that was in Tao of Physics… Fritjof Capra… I was just testing your general knowledge… read some good books… there is a world outside these automobiles…  I will get you some books of Omar Khayyam… science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science, but man needs both… Tao of Physics… some say it is all nonsense… but I enjoyed it when I was young… by the way, that teacher wife of yours… is she still with you?”

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