My most successful relationships apart from my parents, close relatives and my few friends have been with a few vehicles. They in fact have been my ladies. I loved them and they in turn have loved me back, in the unconditional and pure way that only a two wheeler truly can. And I say they loved me, because through them I achieved bliss.
My first lady was a true Wild Cat. She was born in the stables of BSA but at around my age of 8 she came into my life, introduced of course by my father. I fell for her, literally. Several scrapes and skin pealing later I enjoyed that sense of headiness when one gains cycle balance and can move on two wheels. The training wheels were off and I tasted the true taste of freedom, being able to roam at will in the narrow streets of Vikas Kunj, our residential colony. Being on two wheels gave me a confidence to venture to parts unknown that I could never assume on my two legs alone. I made some very interesting friends, like those friendly Malayali cops who often gave me lifts in their Police Gypsy and that boy whom I still remember, though I cant recollect anything about him.
But then I moved to Kochi and it was more than a year of longing later that I got rejoined with my Wild Cat. As the time flew in wait for my first lady, biology was playing its part, such that I outgrew my Wild Cat. Soon I realized that it is time to say goodbye to that wonderful companion of mine. Little did I know, that it would take lot more agony and lots of time for me to meet my second lady.
Years flew by, as I was stuck in the drudgery of having to use a school bus, that despite the years travelled in it, never turned any familiar to a rather generously proportioned and introvert chap. Years were spent in envy of those peers who had cycles of their own and commuted on them to the school. The agony of wanderlust was in fact quite strong in me even in those days. And then after lots of pleading my parents finally bought me my second lady, my second love.
She was the daughter of Hercules, rather unfemininely named as Top Gear, but she was the light of my eyes. With five gears she opened for me the seven heavens. It took some while to convince my extremely conservative mother but finally managing to miss the school bus a couple of times ( wink, wink ) I finally got to travel to school in my cycle. My wanderlust and joy of travelling was unleashed as I soon started riding longer. There aren’t many streets and by lanes that I have not explored in and around Tripunithura, my home town. I would even drive down dead ends to confirm whether they were in fact dead ends. I also discovered the joy of travelling longer distances on that day when after a furious fight with my mother I set off towards Chottanikkara, a temple town some 10 kilometers away. I was exhausted, paining in hitherto unknown muscles, but I was exhilirated! I realized body pains are nothing compared to the joy of travelling alone! It was also with this daughter of Hercules that I realized my policy of convenience over looks. My cycle was unique in being a men’s cycle custom fitted with a girl’s cycle’s carrier in front. Several of my friends did make fun of me, but I knew its utility and was never ashamed.
Thus I was on a joyous relationship that lasted several years. Meanwhile I noticed that the cycle which was once tall for me was soon reaching the maximum reach of its seat extension. By 2001 I had become inseparable from my cycle, I used to do all its maintenance and my physique was at its historical best. However it was around this time that I started cheating with my lady, for a new lady was on the horizon.
She was Japanese and after an agonizing waiting period of 8 months this lovely black hued lady, Activa rolled into my home. By that time I had of course managed to wrangle an under 50 cc licence but still managed to ride the 102 cc scooter, my first motor vehicle. Life with this particular lady was definitely an adventure. First I had to convince my parents that like the daughter of Hercules, this daughter of Japan too was amenable to my controls. Soon I started commuting to school with this lady of mine. It is my greatest sorrow that my previous sweetheart was neglected in the midst of all the attention I lavished on this third lady of my life. Soon the Top Gear was relinquished from my life and I was fully set on a life with motorcycles.
The Activa was a constant in my life for almost eight years, my longest acquaintance yet, however she never led me on to any journey that could quench my wanderlust, primarily because of my own perceived limitations. By this time however my romance with my dream lady was getting strengthened. In fact this was a love that could be dated back to my earliest of years. I don’t remember many cars or bikes from my childhood, but each and every encounter with a Bullet has always been vividly imprinted in my soul. This longing strengthened with my years on an Activa, but I knew that with my diminished means an acquaintance with my dream lady is a far off prospect.
The vehicle could not handle it, but my extreme wanderlust became an uncontrollable force on my psyche, so relevant that my parents soon realized its potent. And thus it was that on the 1st of September 2010 I got mated with my fourth leading lady and my steady companion for the past few years. She could be said to be a mongrel of sorts, born of Japanese and Indian parents, my Hunk finally gave release to my pent up wanderlust. Of the 24 thousand odd kilometers that I have ridden with her, the majority have been in long distance touring, giving me final proof that my wanderlust is not just vague dreaming, it is indeed my life’s passion. Several of the dreams I had dreamt of travel I fulfilled with her. Even though from day one I knew that she would not last long with me, even though from day one she would always have to succomb to a secondary position to my dream lady, she had been a faithful companion through the most trying times. She never broke down on me on those wild and abandoned roads, those endless stretches of asphalts when one could rarely see another human being. me and my hunk moulded each other to be true tourers. However even with her I was guilty of infidelity as though my being was with her my soul was always with my dream lady. Never has her sounds made me not turn my head, even when at supreme bliss on my Hunk. In the three years we spent together I learned mostly about my own limitations in my passion of choice – motorcycle touring. The swagger I affected after each of those 500+ km rides were not of cockiness but due to my extremely sore posterior trying to recover any semblance of circulation or sense after the abuse it received on my Hunk’s saddles. I knew that with her I will not be able to satisfy my deepest desires, true cross country rides. Not that she is not capable of it, just that I wont be able to do it with her.
Providence now played its part in the form of my father finally acceding to my love for my dream lady. It was a painful 5 months of endless waiting before I could meet her. During the extreme tumultous things my life went through in these short 5 months, my dream lady, in all her enticing enchantments, was my only release from sorrows that threatened to overwhelm and destroy one. Endless patience and years of yearning were finally rewarded on the Monday, April the 29th of 2013 when I finally had my hands on her.
She was gleaming at her maternal home, the showroom at Edapally where she stood waiting for me. As she was led out my fingers trembled in the long awaited anticipation. My red beauty had arrived. My bullet had arrived.
People always speak about the pathetic anti climax that one experiences after dreaming and over anticipating an event. For weeks before this day I worried whether it would happen to me too. What if she did not respond to me? What if all the feelings I imagined did not exist? What if it is not magical? What if it all turned to be a disaster? What if everything I dreamt of was only just that – a dream? So many what ifs.
However the moment I sat on my Bullet and rode out all those what ifs disappeared like a wisp of a particularly feeble cloud. It was bliss. It was joy, pure and unadulterated. I was literally smiling, jaws wide open in full 70 mm glory as I rode my Bullet home. It was as if I had got married to a dream girl!
I had bared the torture of waiting for the Bullet to be delivered to me. More than a decade of yearning plus 5 months of waiting for the Bullet to be delivered. However the next month was more excruciating than all that combined. I could not take my lady to Bangalore without getting her registered and the papers for that would not be sent to me for another week. So went two weeks of working in Bangalore while my heart and soul were on my dream lady parked in front of my uncle’s house, covered from the rains which I were cursing for the first time. I was afraid of rust, I was afraid of a thousand water and rain related damages that may be subjected to my dream lady before I even got properly acquainted to her. The moment I arrived at my home during the weekend, I did not even enter my home before rushing out to my Bullet, uncover her, start her and go on a small ride to the temple, before I had a sip of water. I got her registered that weekend but I knew I could not take her to my home in Bangalore unless she got her registration number, and then another painful two weeks started. Added to the fear of rain related damages were worries over the inordinate delay in getting my bike’s registration number. MVD Kerala’s websites must have got at least a 1000 hits every day from me on every day of those two weeks. Add to that my worries about my first ride. Royal Enfield requires that the first service should be done after 500 kms. Since there was no way I could wait to ride 500 kms in Kerala, service it at Kochi and then bring her to Bangalore, I decided that my first ride would be to Bangalore, and I would do that ride in the most disciplined way possible – never stressing the engine, keeping below 60 kmph and ensuring constant RPM modulation – for the entirety of the 570 kms ride.
This I did. It was painful, it was tiring, it was scary at several times. And it was the consummation of all my dreams. It was as good as I ever dreamed of! Me and my dream lady, we are now a match for life. Though there are better bikes, much more technically proficient, much more powerful and faster, my dream lady is my lady.
It has now been nearly 6 months since that first ride from the showroom and I have enjoyed every single moment with my Bullet. The dreams that were as remote to me as Jupiter are now becoming realities because I am no longer afraid to take the plunge as I have my trusted steed by me, my Bullet.