Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Biker Banter

My first biker memory was of running over my brother's foot on a grey hand-me-down tricycle when I was about three. Since my vocabulary then did not yet include the word "sorry", I just laughed insanely at my brother, pedalled away furiously, and crashed into a wall.

When I was 8, all the Trivandrum bois (including brother) started to learn how to cycle. Not to be outdone, I persuaded a senior boi to hire me a rusty green rattletrap from the cycle shop for 25p a day. The chain would lock itself tight every 10 feet or so, and send me flying into random puddles. When I finally mastered the green bike, I yelled to mommie dearest to look out of the balcony. "Look ma, no hands", I said as I careened down the slope leading to our house, and crashed into a wall.

My brother's red BSA SLR (with pump) was the most beautiful thing I'd seen. Using it, you could go anywhere you wanted in the world. Even all the way up to Prashanth Nagar (3 km away). The bizarrely vertical hills in Trivandrum, however, were not the easiest to negotiate. You had to get off and push your bike up cliff like inclines, and clamp both breaks down hard as you free-wheeled down them. My first brake wire snapped when I was half way down the Prashant Nagar incline. "Ende ammachiyey!!" I screamed as I hurtled down the hill and crashed into a wall.

Sriharikota was the flattest piece of land I had ever seen. No hills, no valleys, nothing. Just a flat-as-a-board mass of windswept scrubby tropical evergreen forest stretching out in every direction. "Heaven", I thought, as I climbed onto the BSA SLR that my brother had discarded in favour of a TVS champ. Little did I realize that Sriharikota's gusty winds were craftier than Indra's celestial nymphs. The wind would be behind me as I cycled into school all fresh in the morning, carressing and pushing me gently forward. On the way back, it would hit me square in my face. I'd huff, puff, wheeze and collapse on the pedals, only to find myself red-faced and barely breathing, 10 feet away from the school gates.

One cyclonic day however, the wind changed direction. I hopped on as usual at school and pedalled away furiously, expecting to make slow but steadyish progress towards home. The wind however, swirled back around me, jettisoning me out of the cycle path faster than a GSLV D3. "Orrey babooo!!!" I screamed as I flew over the footpath and crashed into a wall.

My rusty red steed followed me to Bangalore, where my home of course had to be located on the steepest incline in Malleswaram. Anyone who has cycled up the precipitous sloped of Kodandaramapuram and 11th cross, knows that it is a near-impossible task. "Pooh", I said when I first saw it, and set off to conquer it immediately. Switching on Sriharikota-wind-in-my-face mode, I monkey-pedalled up the first 15 feet easily. Suddenly the slope became twice as steep, and my world, half as bright. Half way up the slope, the infallible bikerdude, err.. fell. No more breath. Infact, almost no more life. Cycle slid back. "Ayyayyo, hoythallappoww..", I screamed as the cycle capsized, jingled, slid and crashed into a wall.

Trusty steed was replaced by two-geared Hero-Puch, trendy student-carrier of the 90s. After two years of plodding through city market on my way to college in a BTS bus, I was convinced this was my ticket to coolville. I conjured up supercool images of slicing through the market lanes at breakneck speeds of 30kmph, and dazzling everyone with my beautiful white moulded wheels. My joy was short lived. A scooter pulled up next to me at a traffic signal. The kid on the pilion tugged his father's shirt and said "Appa appa, can we buy this bike? It's so small, I'm sure it's cheap." "Aye cheh!" said the father. "Puchchu gichchu ella huchchare odsodhu" (Aye cheh, Puchch, gichch and all only mad people will ride). "Whaaaat? Bu..but.. Waiiiit!" I screamed, chasing after them, and crashed into a wall.

With my first salary, I bought the only four stroke motorbike on the market that was semi-cool and affordable: a smooth, beautiful black Hero Honda Splendor. I got on it, never got off. My ample rearside moulded itself to the shape of its beautiful black seat. I would sing loudly as I drove in the rain, and curse just as loud when the first trickle of rainwater got into my chuddies. I would take off on long lovely bike trips down Kanakapura road friends and significant others. When my office moved to Hosur road, I would be the first to get home, squeezing through the monster traffic on it in record time, escaping the incessant mind-numbing squawk of RadioCity on the office bus.

We've had a strange love-hate relationship, my bike and I. It has always been my best friend, fixing me with a baleful stare through all my trials and tribulations through its single square eye. I'd park it outside cinemas, pubs, garbage bins, rock shows and friends' homes, and always find it waiting for me dourly when I returned. It's been towed away, bashed up, scratched, dented and scoured, but never left my side. Probably because I had the keys.

When it grew old and would stop in the rain, Id take it aside and curse it gently until it sputtered reluctantly back to life. When it had its customary flat-tyre at 11pm on a Sunday evening, I'd always kick the other wheel and abuse it in the most loving manner, while the impossible-to-find mechanic would smile evilly and say "tube hogbittide(gone) saar". And whenever I jammed its non-existent brakes, it would always oblige me with a hair-raising squeak and crash into a wall.

My relationship with my big beautiful black steed has probably been the longest (and perhaps least healthy) attachment I have had with any mode of transport in my life. It is no longer mine though, but I really hope it's happy wherever it is now. Somewhere nice, I hope. Leaking last year's monsoon water from its torn seat cover into the pants of someone nice, I hope.

I loved you, my little black beauty, though between all the screaming and singing, I don't think I told you that often enough.

23 comments:

Harishhh said...

Aaah! Memories! I remember my first bicycle... It was a shiny red Hero Ranger. The only problem was that it was a tad too tall for me so I remember having to get on and off from the highest footpath on our road. Sometimes the footpath wasn't high enough so... I crashed into a wall! ;)

??! said...

what's with the crashing into walls? couldn't master the beast eh?...that said, I once crashed into a parked car. While cycling down a two-lane road.

Spunky Monkey said...

Ah, if only I could say the same about my tempestuous Laal Chhadi.

About the 25p/day cycle adventures. How cool they were no! Not many of my friends know of this phenomenon; may be it was a small town thingy. I remember learning to ride the bicycle in just a day because amma bribed me with Kesari Bhath!

I love the "crashed into a wall" motif. Said as much to a friend I was talking to earlier.

Good job Bikerdude, you must have had a charmed childhood.

I love Lucy said...

So much of "crashing into the walls" has happened off...no long term bodily damage-gimage eh?
But yeah,cycle-riding as a kid was super fun...I mastered the art single-handedly too..after having sustained countless injuries and after having made the cycle-rent shop guy sorta rich!I was the only customer ansathe paapa!

Preeth said...

Biker tales from biker dude. Good read as usual.Keep it comin bro.

Pri said...

i think i like your non funny posts more than your funny posts.

Poojitha said...

talking about cycles.... u left out an important concept while u pedal steep places-"Monkey Pedalling"!!!! ... :D... Anyways.. nice meeting u yestday... though u seem 2 b d 'paavam' kinds unlike ur posts... :D ... tc..n keep it goin....:)

unpredictable said...

And u DONT have a morbid fear of walls after all that crashing into walls? But I like consistency with which you 'crashed into a wall'.. it IS ok to ROTFL instead of commiserating no?

Thoppai mama said...

Bike-andra nenap bunth nod-ri. Num HubL-yaag obb irthidda. Hesar marth hoth. Maga bike race naag ella odisi baraa-va.

Aagin kaal-daag-na Yamaha 350cc baro kinth modala imported bike ondh saakiddha.

Aen haeL-li? Ella hudugi-yaar avan hind-hind beeLo-vru. Pillion-daag kundrisi wheelie hodiyaa-va, aa hudugiyaaru avan-na appi kond kood thidhvu.

Nummantha cycle thuLkonth hogo hudugurige hotti-kicch esht aag-baard-ri?

(Bike means I am remembering only. In our Hubli was a guy, name I forgot. In bike race and all he used to run the bike and come.

In those days only, before the Yamaha 350cc came, an imported bike he had domesticated.

What to say? All girls his behind-behind falling. In pillion he sat them and wheelies did, those girls him hugging and sitting.

Like us cycle stamping going boys, jealousy how much should’nt be?)

Bikerdude said...

harish: hehe loving it :)

?!! Verry good. I always say people who claim never to have crashed while learning to cycle- are lying.

spunky_monkey: This is true, cycling all the time is a small town thing.

ILL: Boss full kai kaal murskondu chindi chitranna aagi bandiddene. Heh about the cycle shop fellow :)

preeth: tyanks bredher :)

pri: make up your mind, woman :)

poojitha: I don't think I *can* do slopes without monkey-pedalling actually. Good one! Yes I am full paavam type only. Atleast in my weekday avatar ;)

unpredictable: Nahh, you develop a morbid fixation for it :) Life can only get better after you crash into a wall.

thoppai mama: sahebra nim hubLi kannada commentigoskara yaavaglu kaaythirthene, and you never disappointu. Bhal besht bareethir bidri :) (Naan olle shishyano heng?)

Naveen said...

yo...soopreb as yoosual!! but why all the crashing into walls! u seemed to have lived in walled cities! :o) ellelli nodali baree waal-e kaansatthe!
anyways, how are u travelling arnd nowadays - the mr.nataraja service-a?

CW said...

I was jus gonna say that am sorry I laughed at every instance of u crashing into the wall..u dont mind eh?

I agree..cycling arnd is certainly a small town thing. As is falling down periodically & not worrying abt taking tetanus shots. Once in an effort to emulate the paalkarar on his 'male' cycle (the one with the bar- u know how they pushed the cycle first then hopped onto the pedal to hoist themselves up on the seat) I dove headlong into the newly laid tar road.

Pls dont laugh..I'm solpa sensitive abt it still.

Penguin said...

Ayyo, I am reading your post and wanting to put long story about my louly Scooty - whattay bike whattay bike it is. And all you men out there, please not to laugh okay - the Scooty is made to take all you lazy asses all over the countryside by us women. Chumma and all laughing - stupid rascals! I want to come back to Bengloor so I can go on looong Yelahanka-MG Road ride in rain. I want I want!

Bikerdude said...

naveen: correct, i wanted to name my band "The crash test dummies", but someone else beat me to it :P
I am now significantly less cool, and drive around in a reva :) One of those eco-nuts I am.

cw: hehehe. One way of avoiding the bar is to do "crass-fedalling", which is putting your foot under the cross bar, through the gap and then pedalling without sitting. I dont think you can do it if you are more than 3 feet tall though :P

penguin: Arre scooty is lovely I say. Infallible and beauteous it is, except for that front wheel guard which for some reason wouldnt move with the wheel. Solpa spooky it was. Scooty on duty is a thing of....? Aaaaan : Byooty.

Sav said...

aawww what lau...
though i am more impressed with your relationship with the wall :)

Rithish said...

Memories... I cycle down a 60 degree slope... feel the wind rushing through my hair... suddenly notice an old lady walking on the middle of the road... bell feverishly... she jumps to the side... and crashes into a wall...

Memories... ;o)

RustyNeurons said...

25p cycle for one hour! Yes me did that too! In good ole shimoga along the railway track.
Cycle was my precious possession in my high school too! Had many a story to tell about how heroically I saved people from crashing into my bike!
In Ahmedabad I hardly saw any school kid without a bicycle.

BD: Imphaartant thing - you are tagged! Pls to be doing it. No excaping.

wormwood said...

:D Good one! I think I remember the Heropuch!

Bikerdude said...

sav: All in all Im just another brick in the above after all.

rithish: Bwaahahahaha :) :) Too much

rusty: This badige cycle thing seems to have had off full senti effect on multiple ppls I say. Hayyo, tag maadbuttya! Full revenze aa?

wormwood: Thanks :) You do, if you remember this sound:
Purrrrr... khhataaaaar.... puRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR... rrrrrkhataaaaaaar.... gadagadagada.. stop. :)

Veena said...

Ohh my ; that was real funny!!
I couldn't stop laughing and even now..( reading the comments)
Thanks to Harish from where I got your blog address!

Sreejith said...

men and the art of motorcycle maintenance :)

Prajeesh said...

Man, great post! I used to rather crash into the road.
Going uphill is worth the effort.If you enjoy the breeze when you come downhill!

--xh-- said...

i had my biggest fall (on a cycle) from a BSA SLR - that too, 3 falls in oen ride.. i was batterd, bruised nad take to hospital by the end of that ride.. Splendor - my first real touring bike.. the bike coverd 1,75,000+km when ew sold it at last... :-)
now which bike do you use?