Not My Scooter – A Misadventure in Myanmar

I sat, inserted the key to start the scooter. But it won’t fit! My heart did some breakdancing while Pavitra’s face lost a few shades. Her bag was inside the scooter and in it was her passport!

This happened in Bagan, the temple-land of Myanmar. Just google it and you’ll see endless number of photos with hot-air balloons dotting the skyline of a land riddled with pagodas. And the best way to commute within Bagan was to hire one of the electric scooters for a few dollars a day and explore whichever temple you liked out of the 2000-odd that existed there.

Yours Truly. Same scooter

It was I think our second day in Bagan. As usual, finished breakfast, went to the same scooter guy, hired and set off. Fast forward, we parked it outside a temple, locked Pavitra’s bag in it and went off. Oh and the souvenirs inside this temple were amazing, a specific type of lacquer-ware made of bamboo but our pockets didn’t permit; remember this detail, it’s important and is pivotal to the climax. On returning, the intro scene happened and we had no clue how the key wouldn’t fit. After several attempts, I spotted a phone number on the keychain and decided to call the guy. His English only made it worse and a car driver ferrying other tourists helped us out. In no time, the fellow arrived on a scooter. He inspected the scooter for barely a few seconds and snapped, ‘this is not my vehicle’ and was visibly angry like we had messed up something. I, in the meanwhile, was wondering how could the scooter not be his. It was the exact same. He then pointed out to the footrest, mudflaps, etc saying his didn’t have those and began questioning us as to where the scooter was.

I calmly explained to him the whole story and to instil some faith, said that our passport was in it too. So we’d gain nothing from the monkey business. He finally understood and made some calls to trace the actual owner of what we shall now refer to as Scooter 2. And he was successful. The result – another guy turned up who was the owner of scooter 2, gave us a spare key and said we could use his until the guy who had took ours returns to the shop. How did it happen? Well these scooters are made-in-china, so the quality isn’t the best. And in this particular case, one key could fit 2 scooters!

The person with the missing passport

So we agreed to take scooter 2 and continue our day. Exchanging some laughs and amusement over the whole incident, we went our ways praying in the next pagodas that we visited to get the passport back. Spending the afternoon in anticipation, we got a call in the evening from scooter 1’s owner that we can come back, the scooter had been returned to scooter 2’s owner. And we rode that dingy machine in all joy like it was a Ducati back to base. Depositing Pavitra at the shop, the owner and I left for scooter 2’s shop to be greeted by the smiling owner who stood with the bag and the scooter. All contents in place, we shook hands, wiped our tears to head back. Just then the scooter 2’s owner handed something covered in newspaper saying that the guy who had mistakenly taken our scooter left this as an apology gift.

It was one of those big lacquer-ware bowls (the main photo) that we had seen in the temple earlier and couldn’t buy. Well, whoever it was and if he/she happens to be reading this, drop in a ‘hi’. I’ll drop in a ‘thanks’

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