Staying in a remote location and with buses being an hourly affair, the easiest option seemed to be WALK. With the bus stop a kilometer away, our feet carried us distances, until we could spot a speeding big box somewhere at the end of the horizon. And by the time we could read its route number board, the red monster had sped past us to the bus stop ahead. And Lo! We missed the bus of the hour.
In the holidays, my cousin was all so glee about having mastered the trick of riding the Famous DOODHwala bicycle. Too short for its seat, he used to tuck the bike’s seat bar between his arm and side and peddle the cycle with either legs hanging on peddles. Amusing yet a wonder to be seen.
And on my request, he readily agreed to be my tutor. Well all this was after a few days of showing off his proudest achievement and a few tricks on the bike he had learnt (including sitting on the seat and peddling with his BigToes).
It took a lot of him running behind my cycle, and me many a fall and bruises before I could comfortably place myself on a cycle and move my legs with peddles. And one fine day I realized I was fit to ride beyond the bus stand.
Incidentally, my aunt, uncle and cousins (whom we stayed with) decided to move out to a new house closer to my uncle’s place of work. And my cousin decided he would leave the old bicycle with me to use. Although I was sad to let him go, I was happy to possess the machine that could carry me whereever I wanted to go.
As I graduated to a proficiency in cycling, I started taking it to college. It was more of pride to show-off of my abilities, of having cycled 20 Kilometers to college and been in time, to my classmates who stayed near and came at the strike of the bell or sometimes later. A year passed and the next chunk of freshers joined College. Being closer to a posh locale, it was obvious for the college to attract the attention of some rich brats who brought in their mopeds and scooterettes. Yes, all these guys gave my cycle a huge complex.
This was reason enough for me to pester my father to give me his moped to ride. Again a series of falls and bruises. Soon after, I gained just enough confidence and a Learner’s License to take the moped places; I started taking it to college. And my father knew he had to give up his convenience for my luxury. That way, I was pampered enough.
A couple of years on the moped earned me my first second-hand Scooterette Kinetic Pride. And my days of joy began. And again they were short lived. The 75cc “dainty darling” kissed a newly made footpath (a first in our Town) and was reduced to junk. Okay I exaggerated! It was too expensive to be repaired and I had to sell it at a humble price.
Today, I own a 150cc bike and happily sneak through the tiniest gaps between large vehicles to reach just off time. And now when sitting behind the steering wheel gives me jitters, I comfort myself with the heroic efforts of the yesteryears. All that in the presence of the driving instructor, of course!