Friday, July 30, 2010

The wheels go round and round

I started riding 2-wheelers when I was in Class 6. The first motorcycle/moped I owned was a second hand Kinetic Luna which I shared with my sister and then graduated to a brand new Hero Puch (geared motor cycle) a few years later.

It was against the rules, coz I was driving without a license. We’ve gone triples too, me and my other tom-boyish friends. The traffic cops have seen us riding in school uniforms and we managed to give them the slip with our innocent smiles and flickering eyes (with head tilted to a side) pleading with him to let us go; as we catch the cop's reflection in our side-view mirror, giggling, watching him helplessly wag his finger at us, as if to warn us that he’s letting us go because we’re kids but he will not be this kind the next time he sees us - school kids, without license, triples – that’s triple offence isn’t it?!

My usual mode of commute to and fro school was on the school bus. But when I had basketball practice, special classes or tuitions, I would take my Hero Puch. My pillion rider would either be my sister or one of my friends.

Once we rode on my friend A’s Kinetic Honda (scooter) in our school uniform, to school. A was tall and hefty with short hair, in the front seat. R, that’s me, tall and thin, with short hair, in the back seat. And 2 other friends ‘D’ and ‘V’, one short with short hair and the other short with long hair and glasses, wedged between us. All 4 of us, happily singing, whistling, riding…on 1 scooter. The traffic cop wasn’t there, thank heavens. Maybe the Lord heard us and He wouldn’t have wanted to play the spoilsport anyway!

My dad had a Yezdi, which I used to ride occasionally. And M’das Sir who used take Physics and Chemistry tuitions when I was in Class 12 used to own a Bullet, which he allowed me to ride once a while. Felt like I was king (no dainty princess this) of the road!

I used to dread the public mode of transport – Buses and autos. I remember, once when my Hero Puch had a flat tyre, I thought I’ll take the bus to my tuition class. I waited 5 minutes at the bus stop, no bus in sight, I walked to the next bus stop, no bus and kept walking… actually walked about 5 kilometers or more, all the way to my tuition centre. Now you know what I mean when I say ‘dread’!

From Hero Puch I graduated to a Suzuki motorbike. This time I was old enough to get a license. Man, I felt powerful. Could race with the meanest of machines. No Harley Davidson, but will make do. That was a time and place where there were very few girls riding (geared) bikes. From what I heard, there was just one other girl in the city who used to ride a motorbike. Hadn’t met her though.

And me with my tall frame, short hair, Levis jeans , casual tees, Nike shoes, no fashion accessories and helmet on, could pass off for a guy. When the guys realized I was a girl, I would get a second and third look and then they would want to race with me. Like I cared! My friend who would pillion ride with me would wrap a scarf around her head and face (to keep the heat and dust away), she could pass off as Phulan Devi . Perhaps why, the co-riders on the road kept a safe distance and were afraid to challenge us to a race. Enjoyed the ride, through the dust, the heat, the rains and of course, some minor bruises!

What I hated though was when my friends’ friends, sister’s friends, mom’s friends and dad’s friends reported to my folks that I ride too fast and that I would be sorry if I didn’t heed to their advice and slow down. Aarrgghh! And I also didn’t like having to clean my bike every other day, take it for servicing once every while and when my dad warns me about not running on reserve fuel for too long (and actually running out of fuel, with the nearest petrol bunk not within a mile)…. Aaarrrggghhh! And when my pillion rider holds me around my waist, sits on one side, gives me instructions to ride (pillion riding or back seat driving!)…Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!

I learnt to drive a car when I was in Class 8 (dad taught me). From Class 10, my dad used to let me drive when we went out as a family. I was appointed the unofficial driver (didn’t have a license remember!). When I got license, I was ready for the kill. Didn’t mow anybody down. I am quite a cautious driver, actually . Just 2 or 3 small dents / scratches in my many years of driving experience (which wasn’t even my fault, really!).

On my graduation day, my dad (no he didn’t gift me a car!) let me take the car (He’s someone who used to take such good care of the car that mom, sis and I almost believed that he loved the car more than us!). When I was pursuing my post-graduation, however, my dad let me take the car out more frequently. And I was always the chauffeur when we went on family outings and trips.

Love to be in the driver's seat, in control of things. Hate the "go slow, slam the brakes, left-no-right, you're going too fast..." instructions that come from the backseat driver, who thinks he/she is a co-driver or navigator. When I'm on the hot seat, it's like I wear a pair of horse blinds, complete focus on the road and where I'm headed. I've had my share of accidents, but none too serious. I steer my way ahead.

When I went to Chennai on my first job, I borrowed my cousin's Kinetic Honda and figured my way around the snarling traffic. The scorching sun was no deterrent. When I got to Coimbatore, where my dad was posted then, I got back to riding my Suzuki. I got married, landed in Mumbai. Then it was - Train for daily commute to work (as a passenger only), Car for weekends, family outings or shopping, Pick-up Truck to ferry items to the Godown when the drivers were unavailable (as a volunteer - Hubby's uncle was a tea-taster and had a tea business). I was again the unofficial driver. (If ever I ran out of a job, I knew I could land a job as a driver, given my experience!). Cochin, I ventured about in Suzuki (my bike) and Yamaha (my hubby's bike) initially and then the 4-wheels through narrow roads that looked more like lanes, alleys, blind curves and dead-ends.

Now, I'm done with bikes. I'm no longer fascinated by it. The cars too, I would be happy to let someone else drive. Hate the traffic - more than half the commuters don't seem to know how to ride/drive, some dreaming while driving, some others drunk and driving, some talking on the mobile or smoking while driving...add to it the growing number of vehicles on the road, potholed roads...and what have you!

But looks like I will have to drive, at least for now, perhaps until the time I have the luxury of having a chauffeur drive me around town. Then I will gladly relinquish the post of unofficial driver!

Vrrrrrrrrrrrooooooooooooom!

* All images on this post (included to make this rather long story on wheels a bit racy) are courtesy Google Search and belong to the owners of the respective sites.

31 comments:

Asif said...

lol... loved the pathetic story of an unofficial chauffeur(or should I say exciting story of an energetic girl :) )
Oh How I wanted to see at least one girl crazy about Yezdi or bullet in my place. Even now there are hardly any who actually love to ride such beasts.
I wish there are more females out there in India who actually are crazy about the wheels :)

lol...may your sweet kids take up your post soon :)

A New Beginning said...

Im in awe of you bike rider!!!! I too learnt how to drive while in 9th-10th and went alone to get a learners and then permanent license...with a friend sitting besides me, who didnt know the ABC of driving ;)
That seemed to be some great achievement!!
No gyan on bikes....should have learnt to drive one too :(
But now Im all the more inspired after reading your post ;)

The Holy Lama said...

That was a nice journey down the memory lane. Well, I too learnt to ride the moped at 12 but never graduated to geared bikes. Learnt to drive a car at 18 but except donning the role of emergency driver, never really rode thanks to back seat driving by hubby or sons. And I still ride the gearless scooter.:)

RGB said...

@Asif,
Yeah...there are just countable women riding motorbikes around here. Last Sunday, I got to see a couple of girls riding some heavy bikes and I was really happy (excited) about it! And yup my elder daughter is already looking forward to be 18...says she'll drive me & B to work.

@The New Beginning,
Thanks dear:D Driving ABCs are so important, can't imagine what I'd do if I hadn't learnt to drive. And yeah...biking is such a wonderful experience, you should try it sometime!

@The Holy Lama,
But you could race the fastest and meanest machine on the road with that scooty of yours, given your attitude;p Glad you enjoyed the ride!

Madhu said...

wow!! reminds me of myself. I remember dads friends calling him up to tell him that i am a monster on road..and then dad not giving me the keys for a week..:(

i love driving fast! its kinda thrilling no!

Insignia said...

One hell of a ride! :-P

Got reminded of my graduation from cycles to Luna to Yamaha to Car...

Thrilling no! Now, its tough for me to ride or drive anything courtesy, Bangalore's pathetic and chaotic traffic.

Now its the hubby who does the driving or I hire a rick!

The Panorama said...

Enjoyed reading this post! I can imagine a girl riding a motorbike getting stares.

I have friend here who had a bike and I would go pillion riding with her. And even here, men stare when a woman whizzes by on a bike.

Destiny's child... said...

I. am. jealous. And. you. know. why. :(

rama said...

That was a good blog. I always loved sitting behind a woman who was riding the bike . Two my Aerobics students used to ride motorcycles, and they always gave me lift back home.
Though i am not a rider or a good driver i always admire people who can coolly do these things.
I am really proud of you.

Nazish Rahman said...

My first visit to your blog n definitely not the last one:)!! Loved the way u write...girlz n bikes honestly a rare combination..lolz!!
Actually everything has a time frame and u enjoy them only at that time...!

take care!!

Susan said...

Wow..that's a lot of mileage and a lovely recollection of the wonder years!

RGB said...

@Madhu,
Happens to all, huh? Fast and furious were our ways!

@Insignia,
Yeah, enjoyed the ride from cycles to cars...! Lucky your hubby chauffeurs you around. My hubby used to, but now he's taken the backseat, and I drop him on my way to office!

@The Panorama,
Tell me about it! Riding bikes is seen as a man's forte and they feel sort of threatened when women drive it with ease:D

@Destiny's Child,
Yup. But you should try it sometime!

@rama,
Thanks. And nice to hear you enjoy and appreciate women riding motorcycles:)

@Nazish Rahman,
Welcome and I'm so glad you liked my blog. True, that was a time to remember. I believe I did whatever I could and have thoroughly enjoyed it.

@Susan,
Thanks for stopping by. It certainly felt good to recount those wonderful days on wheels.

Rajlakshmi said...

that sounds sooo cool... I couldnt drive properly even after learning from driving school... my driving license serve the purpose of identity card :P

Latha Nair said...

WOW! You make me envious!
Riding isn't one of my skills
for sure. The number of
accidents I have suffered
are ample proof of that!
To add insult to injury my
unfortunate friend who happened
to ride pillion with me still
carries tales about the horrors
of riding with me.

sujata said...

Thats a spark of a girl! Love your attitude, the story oozes with it! Its time you fly, the roads are not your playground anymore!

Nona said...

You have been early than most in getting to learn and use bikes and cars. I wonder where the incident, the cop letting you off, took place? You were in school uniform and having more number of people on the moped. Then, he let you go!

With the growing traffic in most cities, we would love to delegate the task of driving to someone else!

This is that said...

Hahahaha..lovely post, super fun..!!!! and cheers to you..believe me it is just a stop gap, I know someone who after years of being driven around, has recently rediscovered his passion..and believe me, he seems a whole lot happier.

RGB said...

@Rajlakshmi,
That sounds like my mom! She has a licence but is afraid to drive. Good ID proof though :)

@Latha Nair,
Hee, hee...Does your friend maintain a blog to publish those "horror" stories?!

@Sujata,
Thanks:D And yeah...I would love to fly the Jet Plane. Got a chance to fly the Glider many times (subject for another post)!

@Nona,
That was in a place called Salem. And traffic was not anything like what we have now, back then. Perhaps why they let us off scott-free:)

@This is that,
Glad you like it. Maybe I've had my share of fun and so now, look forward to having someone else take over the driving seat!

Bikramjit Singh Mann said...

I ma so late sorry about that..

Oh my god I cant belive it, its my passion bikes no not the new hot shot ones but the old traiditonal types , I am in UK and I imprted the Enfield here so summer times i go to work dug dug dug dug on my bike..

I am not fussed about cars, never liekd them an open jeep maybe, recetnly placed an order for an Open jeep to be built up for me in punjab to be imprted here.. All with hammocks, bats, fog ligts etc etc... so WAITING for that to arrive now yayyyyyy

I have done so much driving in india on a bike or scooter.. we drove from chandgiarh to mumbai, Ahmedabad, Jammu, and DELHI was local cause had to go a few times to appear from my flying exams..

bring back so many memories.. early morning riding the bike at 12-15KMPH speed, toes bent forwards, legs wide open.. a BIg boustache, a big turban WAH WAH WAH ji wah .. :)

Arjit Srivastava said...

Loved the tale of your "driving". (Read flying!) Honestly, I haven't known many females who drive well enough to be put on the road, but, well, in your case it seems different. And I like that!

PS: By the way, I have a helicopter; mind trying that out sometime? (:

RGB said...

@Bikramjit,
Better late than never ;P
Good to know that your passion for bikes & jeeps hasn't waned over the years. And you're actually taking your favourite vehicle with all the jazz right up to UK to keep your passion alive! And you can fly? Can visualize the sight, on the bike in that pose and with the turban on ;D

@Arjit,
Glad you like my story on wheels. Wish I knew how to fly a helicopter. Given a chance, I would love to try!

radha said...

Lovely post. I don't drive. I learnt to drive just as I was done with college, but my dad ( the car was his prized possession) came a couple of times, but then he was nervous, and asked me to take the car out on my own. I should have, but then I was reluctant to do that. And and another time, I learnt to ride a moped, I almost drove it into my dad's car. After which I did not drive ever, and now traffic gets me nervous. I have turned into one of those back seat drivers - the kind you hate.

RGB said...

@ Radha,
Ah...when we're not driving, we automatically take on the role of back-seat driver, eh? The traffic in Cochin can put off the best of drivers! Thanks for your comments.

Sandhya said...

Enjoyed reading your 'driving/flying' escapades! Riding bicycles in school uniform must have been fun, my son was doing. Once a policeman stopped him and this fellow got so scary...but the policeman asked him to drop him at a place a couple of KM away! Imagine a policeman sitting behind a boy in school uniform in a scooter!

I went to a riding school to learn to ride a two wheeler...but it stopped with that. Father and son were reluctant to get me a two wheeler...the dream gone the drain!

I still envy women riding bikes...!

Interesting post, RGB!

sm said...

loved story
and narration

The Holy Lama said...

An award awaits you at my blog

scarlet pimpernel said...

Well i am a little sad that you no linger find bikes interesting.

RGB said...

@ Sandhya,
That must have been a sight - a cop riding pillion with a school boy! Oh...too bad your hopes of riding a bike are dashed! But nothing can stop you from dreaming, can it?! Thanks for your comments & hope to see you around more often.

@sm,
Glad u like it. And thank you for stopping by :)

@The Holy Lama,
Really (With both hands on my face and eyes wide open in awe)?! I'll pick it up as soon as I can! Thanks:D

@scarlet pimpernel,
With the kind of traffic, weather, pollution...where I am currently located, it's hard to keep the passion alive! Thanks for stopping by:P

Balachandran V said...

Hi, first time visitor, thru pjk. Amusing read!

Choco said...

Hahaaa... I am not that great behind the wheels. And cannot ride a bike to save anyones life... J. :)

RGB said...

@ Balachandran V,
Welcome to my blog. And hope to see you around more often.

@ Choco,
:D want me to be your chauffeur?