Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Afternoon: I fixed my bike
Evening: I thought I’d fixed my bike
Late evening: I’m in a fix here

I dunno what to make of this; was it divine intervention to make me go back to cycling, was it a wakeup call to stop procrastinating for good, did it serve to humble my loud-mouth, was it something to help me slow down and look at my life for once or was just a great script for comedy. I’d like to believe it was combination of all.

Last evening after almost losing my leg to kick starting a bullet in vain, I took a lift half way to my place and then boarded a rickshaw. Things so happened that I couldn’t manage more than 4 hours of sleep in the night. Today morning I boarded a bus to my workplace carrying my helmet. I had to walk some distance from the stop, accompanied by two people from my institute, one of which unwittingly said some nasty things about someone I care for, of course totally oblivious to the latter till I bombarded him with interrogation regarding the legitimacy of his blab. I manage to embarrass him but not without upsetting myself as well.

In the afternoon, I went to check if my bike would start. With a warm battery in the afternoon sun, it took a few kicks to revive the beast from coma. I heard the dug-dug long enough to smile and forget the morning’s incidence. In the evening, I returned to my dug-dugi and kicked again. Something about the way she wheezes that tells me if she’s gonna start in a while or just slip into coma again. She sure slipped back into coma but not without sending my leg into one as well. I decided I’d drag the fat-ass to the mechanic and did so. I reached there only to find the workshop locked and caught up a few breaths to drag it back to the institute. I realized my mistake, I’d ignored the battery water level way too long and in the cold evening, it couldn't even cough a spark into the spark-plug. I asked one of the guards at the institute for water and he offered warm water in an aluminum kettle. As I poured the life giving water into the battery, the PAPARAZZI arrived. My batchmates,seeing my pour warm water into my bike stopped and cracked wise jokes on me

“OMG! If you’d give such love to a woman, she’d keep you happier than your bike”,

“Wow! This thing runs on water? Warm water?”,

“Click his picture! We gotta upload this on facebook!”

“Evening out with your girlfriend eh!, why don’t you both go to a restaurant…err! Petrol pump!”

Sure they clicked my pictures as if they’d seen Paris Hilton’s underwear…or Paris Hilton without one…and then they disappeared without offering any help.

Outside, seeing my ordeal, the rickshaw walas, warming their hands around a bon-fire, were staring at me like hyena’s eye a dying prey. I walked up to them and asked how much they’d charge to take me to my place and I was quoted a price of 100 bucks (I mean come on, it's not like they had to carry the bike as well, it was just me). I walked back showing them my middle finger but they smiled. Maybe they thought it was some kind of thumbs-up.

I walked up to the hostel to the paparazzi hideout and told them to give me one of their bicycles (yeah I didn’t ask, I told them), they offered one provided I get my pic clicked on the bicycle wearing all my leather biking gear. I obliged and dutifully showed them the middle finger and they smiled too. No sooner had a cycled a few yards, I realized that the cycle was too small for me and its seat was made of some material that can be aptly called softwood.

My knees were just an inch odd away from the handlebar at their closest point and my weight was too much for the tyre pressure. I love cycling on my bicycle but this one was total pain and the cycle rode really heavy. As I made my way through IMTECH, whoever recognized me had a good laugh seeing me perched atop a relatively small bicycle and going zigzag trying to avoid the handle hitting my knees.

I heave-hoed my way through the less crowded roads in the beginning but as I hit the traffic I realized that the threat of being mowed down was very real; most motorists were on cell phone and/or overspeeding and caring two hoots about other “lesser” people. On every bend and corner I pedaled on like a freaked out snail watching cars and truck closing in, trying to wiggle out as fast as I could. I missed my Bullet and then later I started to miss my own bicycle which is a decently nimble machine. I watched Bullets going dug-dug past me and I sighed. I then realized that I was way too slow even for other cyclists but then was reminded of the adage “beggars can’t be choosers”. So I was beggars wasn’t I, I’d almost bully-beg-borrowed this tin-can I was riding.

Then something upset me: smoke, beedi smoke on my face, yuck! As if the vehicular exhaust wasn’t enough to pollute my lungs which were working overtime anyway, I had someone shoving tobacco smoke down my windpipe. I instantly looked at the source. It was rickshaw-wala in front of me and there we both were right under the bright streetlights. As more smoke rose and came to me, I looked at his ruffled white hair from behind; the white smoke and the white hair looked queer enough for me to forget about the filth of it for a while. As I strenuously wiggled to overtake him, I started getting a cleared picture of his face. First the ears, then the profile as I looked at the gaunt, heavily-wrinkled, weatherbeaten face of the old man I was mesmerized the thought of somebody painting a face like that or somebody capturing a picture like the one I was getting to see. As he puffed on his beedi in a style that looked so original it could be used as a video-lesson for actors, it seemed like he didn’t need to look up to the traffic to know where it was coming from or where it was going but he kept going without committing a hair of a mistake. His legs and one hand were on autopilot and his face and other arm were lost in the ecstasy of the beedi smoke. It seemed like to him there was nothing to the world cept his beedi; a strangely awesome sight. Then I thought I’d have missed it completely had I been on my bike.

As I crossed pretty women on the road, I, now perched atop a funny looking “nothing”, realized how impossible it was to get them to catch even glimpse of me; a shiny bike does shimmer me into moments of fleeting attention doesn’t it. And after a few such incidences, I realized how inconsequential that need for attention is.

This could’ve happened only on this bicycle for when I’m on my own, I’m concentrating more on racing with the motorized traffic and winning for a while; I realized that even that was a silly thing to do. I realized that all baabu-cycles riders were old men.

Then I found myself on the road right across my alma-mater. I realized that I crossed it every day but never looked at it. This time I was slow enough to spot my last classroom in the dark, I stared at it for a while and then instantly shifted my sight across to the other side to the two palm trees I loved looking at during a boring class and was overjoyed to spot them as well and in fact they did seem a little bigger than my recollection of them; 14 years is a long time.

By now I had gained some speed and was happily swaying left and right as I pedaled down home. It had been quite a while, or had it? I checked the time, it had been 25 minutes since I left and home was probably another 10 odd minutes away at that speed. Just then something bit me on my knee. Some godforsaken insect had probably made its way up there…Yeeooww! That hurt. I squished whatever it as was from outside between the fold of my jeans.

When home was in sight my cell phone began to vibrate, I took the call, it was from Arijit

“so how does it feel like to cycle up to home?” he barely managing to control his laughter. Apparently some nit-wit had updated Facebook about my condition even before I reached home.

“Awesome” I replied. I really enjoyed the ride.

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