On Sundays, I usually drive down the roads like I used to when I first learned how to ride a bike – slowly, a bit skeptically, and with a smile on my face just like the one I used to have when I was first learning this trick. I call it a trick because it is a tricky business – to ride a bike. The only exceptions are that now I am no longer skeptical of this trick save for few reckless drivers that one often encounters passing by, and I don’t have to focus on the clutch and remember the gear the bike currently is in. Bikers can relate to this, and it comes almost naturally, I think, just like eating and talking. In hindsight, it feels like some farce even to think of the time when I used to try really hard not to forget the gear my bike was in. Driving is fun once you learn the art of releasing the clutch on time and can figure the gear the bike is in by the sound of the engine. Besides these, I don’t see any other troubles as such with the way the bikes these days are designed especially with the gear indicators coming to one’s aide.
So, with my concentration off the things related to driving that now sound almost like trivialities, and pretty much nothing on my mind, I usually avert my gaze off the road to see what the city has to offer, of course apart from all the monetary related benefits and the big buildings where all this money is minted. I do so, I mean look around for things, while being careful; I mean as I said, it does not take much of a skill on your part to ride a bike and to enjoy the scenery simultaneously once you learn the art and are riding at a controlled speed.
On Sundays, en route a temple I visit, I usually end up on a kind of boulevard. It is not a boulevard in strictest of the sense but I like calling it so because it is closest to a Boulevard any city could offer you, and all it really takes is a bit of appreciation from your end. So, I am whizzing past the trees, and let me make this clear now that this whizzing arises not due to the speed I am riding at but due to the number of trees that surround me from both the sides and this, at least for me is what a real boulevard must feel like. It is a sight pleasantly soothing to have trees on both the sides and the mere thought of them not ending anytime soon. On this boulevard, you will see, amongst other things, a van with carpets hung across its hatch; a few juice vendors; some hawkers selling cherries amidst other fruits, and few interesting people. While the other aforementioned group of people en route remains more or less the same, the last group often, surprisingly, keeps changing. The last week, as I remember it, this group of few interesting people was the couple who were ahead of me, both sitting astride along with their kid in between them. Now what makes them interesting is the way they make use of their helmets – the wife holds both their helmets in one hand with fruits stuffed in it. Needless to say, these people must have had their priorities sorted; I mean, not everyone would trade their heads for a few cherries.
The week before that, it was a group of three boys on a bike and this is a fact, as I have witnessed it not once but on multiple occasions, that a bike with three boys astride it will always overtake you from your left and will snake past the traffic ahead of you overtaking almost every alternate vehicle at an increasingly high-speed making you gasp for breath not just when they overtook you at such a high-speed but with their every subsequent overtaking attempt in front of your eyes. To add to one’s consternation they are always without a helmet.
Despite all the entertainment that this boulevard offers me, today brought something different; today I was unusually slower than I am on other Sundays, and so I kept myself to the leftmost lane. And just when I was about to speed up my bike, I saw a young girl, 18 or 19 by the look of her, chasing a bicycle, running as if she was about to miss the last bus home, only that this chase was more dramatic than any last bus chases they show in the movies. She reached the cycle just in the nick of time and held the weight from one end thereby preventing it from falling, and enabled the rider to keep her feet on the ground. Having accomplished this, she ecstatically announced “Amma!” and what ensued was a loud laughter on the duo’s part. I couldn’t hear her anymore as I drove past them pretty soon and also with the fear that stopping there would have distracted them from savoring the moment; and moreover even if I had somehow succeeded in eavesdropping the duo, I wouldn’t have gotten much out of their conversation, for the beautiful language of theirs is still far from my comprehension. But the story is apparent, ain’t it? – just like the foreign music that doesn’t make any sense but strikes the right chords in the heart and you end up listening to it on the loop. Instantly, I knew what was going on. I slowed further down and kept adjusting the rearview mirror to have in my sight that little victory the mother-daughter duo had there for as long as I can. But, the distance soon increased and I progressed way ahead from where I could still perceive the ongoing and I just continued on. I smiled thinking about what all goes on the road and accelerated…