Sunday, August 19, 2012

For the Love of Bike(s)!

Have you seen a white elephant?  No...? Well, if you want to, just trot down to my place, because I have a couple of them right here in my garage.

The men of the house look after them, wash them reverently, and occasionally take them out for ceremonial outings. They are expensive to maintain – very expensive. And they eat a lot. But its fun to ride on them. Especially if one happens to live next to the Palm Beach Road - Navi Mumbai's answer to Julio Avenue. Whizzing on Palm Beach Road late in the evening, cool wind hitting your face and blowing your hair back - 'This is life', you feel!

Yes, I am talking about bikes... bikes that belong to the ‘boyz’ in my house – the spouse and the son. Try as I might, I don't think I'll ever understand what it is about men and motorcycles... that thing that reduces men to slobbering jelly-like beings who think with their adrenal glands when in the presence of a Harley-Davidson (or even lesser specimens).

And they catch it rather early on in life. My son caught it when he was just 4 years old. At that time, if someone said, “I am going to take away your Dad’s car” - he would just give a dismissive shrug, and say, ‘Theek hai’ in the most nonchalant tone. But if someone dared to say, “I am going to take away your Dad’s bike” - all hell would break loose. One could almost see strobe lights flashing in his nose, eyes and ears like a robot suddenly gone bonkers, and he would launch himself upon the culprit with a yell meant to curdle the blood and pickle the flesh...

But back to the story of our white ellies. One fine day last year, our son sat Sudarshan and me down, and informed us in a low, melancholy voice that life was not really worth living – unless, of course, he had a new bike. That elicited an immediate response from both of us – only, Sud finished saying “Of course!!” much sooner than I could complete uttering “What absolute rot! NO way!!”

The ‘Of course’ won, of course. And the first white elephant came home less than a month later. It was a rather snazzy Yamaha, and we all got invited for free rides, and enjoyed them to the hilt. For exactly two months, that is...

Then, passion took a backseat to convenience. “Tchah, bikes are not really the thing for Mumbai roads... what with the rains and potholes and all!” declared the teenager, like an enlightened Buddha. And since then, white elly#1 has cooled its heels (or whatever it is that unused bikes cool) in our garage, except for its occasional visits to the service station.

But the real shock was last week, when suddenly I found the elephants were reproducing! One fine day, I found 2 bikes in the garage instead of one! I rubbed my eyes and tried to recall what I'd drunk the previous night, but the double vision would not go away. It WAS another bike. And this time it was the older boy who had gone and done it. Sudarshan had indulged himself with a 500 CC Enfield –  covert operation 'Desert Storm' was well on its way!

A bit about our history with bikes here...

The very first bike Sud got was a Jawa. A friend just told him to take it off him, for free... and Sudarshan soon realised why. It would run rather well, whenever it could start - which was about once in 23 blue moons... And it had this annoying habit of stopping at the most inconvenient of places. Imagine, being on the pillion of a bike that stops right in the middle of the busy Raja Garden crossing – with scores of angry Punj commuters spouting gaalis and doing a war dance around you. And once, we almost caused riot police to be called in, when the Jawa stopped (and just wouldn't start again) in an Old Delhi by-lane where it was difficult to find even an inch of road space that was not occupied by a foot, butt, or wheel...

But still, both of us loved the inscrutable old bike - its eccentricity kind of matched our own... and reminiscing about our days of courtship is never quite complete without a few fond memories of our rides on the Jawa!

That was 27 years ago. After that there has been a series of them – begged, borrowed and bought. But the Jawa was special.  As was the Honda – the first bike we actually bought, and the one on which I learnt to ride. (That is a story too – but I’ll save that for another day.)

In recent years, I had thought the yen Sud had for bikes had waned over time... till the Yamaha and the Desert Storm came home in quick succession. Sighhhh... I must say (even at the cost of sounding sexist) - if we girls want our peace with our shopping expeditions, I guess we've got to allow the boys their dalliances with their Enfield or Harley-Davidson!

So now, here I am... stuck with the two gargoyles in the garage. And with every passing day, jokes like - “How do you fit four white elephants in the garage?” “Two on top of the car and two below...” seem less of a joke and more like a scary future possibility...


  1. Main Aur Meri Bike Tum Aur Tumhare Lap Top se aksar ye batein "Nahin" Kiya Karte Hain! :) I knew sooner or later I too had to be shot one way or other - what better than a bullet to get shot for? I and Bullets are destined to keep crosing paths - remember Tea Estates, and then the Jama Masjid trip for perpetual repairs to the first bullet? Whatever else, even you will agreee that bike driving is helluva fun - you used to do it at Anand and 'froke' out in the long and winding roads.
    Am looking forward to a long trip on the bike with you soon. Loved your post, and that you've not been your "Caustic Soda" best. Hope it lasts

    1. You DO have quite a history with Bullets, don't you - all borrowed, of course (Sensei's Bullet, then the Tea estate one, then Yan's and finally Naveen's)... a kind of extended test drive (over a period of 25 years :D) till white elly#2 came home.

      And yes, the only way I can do a 'looong' bike trip now is if somehow the pillion can become a convertible bed... with my legs stretching out from the back like those iron rods do ominously from passing trucks... ;)

    2. Hey You forgot the 6th one! the one I owned - famous Jama Masjid one, whcih more often was in the repairs than ran!

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  3. I always knew Sudarshan and I had similar likes... but you and Diana having similar experiences is something that I know now..
    Jai Bullet.. Jai Male Fraternity.. We vow to adhere to the bullet principles..
    Sudarshan is looking really cute in the cartoon...
    I am reminded of my Bullet, which had to be dragged by a tractor every time it got punctured in the thorn infested roads of Rajasthan... but I carried on with it till my pockets emptied... But I still remember by 'second love' with equal fondness. Thanks for freshening my memories

    1. Oho - so your pockets have been emptied by a Bullet too - I'll exchange notes with Diana about what she has to say about that!!

      The big guy tells me that this time the story is going to be different - with the 'new, improved, fuel-efficient, low-maintenance' Enfield. Well, you know what I think of that..... Yours skeptically - Suchi

  4. Nice Post ..Thanks for sharing the information...