Second Time Lucky

It’s 5 a.m. and I stumble out of bed. I go through the ritual carefully: splash water on my face, put on the lucky T-shirt, pull out my laptop. It’s been a month since the spring semester ended, but unfortunately, I am still operating in two timezones. I settle into my chair, and turn the TV on. The sounds of sticks hitting pucks fill the silent house.

It’s the Stanley Cup Final, and ice hockey has somehow conned me into caring. I’m not from North America, Europe, or Russia. I’m just about the most non-traditional fan there is. But it’s 5 a.m. and here I am.

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I have no official plans this summer, so I find myself at the nearest Regional Transport Office, all lined up for a learner’s license. It’s my second time here in as many days, and the jittery nervousness has given way to annoyance. Today, the maze of offices is just about waking up. It’s a balancing act: come early, and you’ll beat the crowd, but come too early and you’ll beat the officers themselves. I stifle a yawn.

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My team is down by one; not insurmountable, but not good for my heart. The sun has risen by now, and the Indian summer heat sweeps in with a vengeance. No matter the weather, I’m not letting go of the lucky blanket. I know, objectively, that there’s nothing I can do to influence the outcome of a sporting event thousands of kilometers away. The game day rituals are just a placebo, a compulsion loop. But I can almost believe that with the perfect combination of clothing and actions and seating position, everything will click into place.

Right now, though, they’re playing with paranoia. They flinch at every move, something the buzzword-happy commentators like to call “pucker factor.” I can feel the impending collapse, with the unique pessimism only a fan can have.

The power cuts out, and my screen goes blank. Because of course it does.

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The RTO’s whirring fans slow to a stop. Goodbye, electricity. Two rooms away, the computers with the learner’s test flicker and die. There’s this Hindu idea called dwitiya vigna. When you try something new, make sure to attend your second class, or appointment, or whatever it is, or you’ll never continue it. So far, my second visit to the RTO hasn’t been very auspicious.

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While the electricity’s gone, the other team scores again. Because of course they do. I think of the last time the power went out during a game. We lost, badly. I brace myself.

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My nerves fade as I click my way through the test questions. Pucker factor who? I send a silent thanks to the servers for deciding to behave today, and leave the office a licensed learner.

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My mind’s already running through missed superstitions by the time my team loses. They have two days to regroup before their second game in an unfamiliar city. All I can do is cross my fingers and hope they’re luckier the next time around.

Stuti R. Telidevara ’20, a Crimson Associate Blog Editor, lives in Cabot House.

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