Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Footboard travel, as the more perceptive of you will have been enlightened, can be injurious. To be precise, jaanleva, in the words of the announcer at Dadar, whose words of advice on the subject I managed to salvage out of the cacophony prevalent on the platform.

I am, therefore, being very afraid. Brrr. Such like non-English expressions. I did, therefore, resolve to defeat fate in the nefarious designs it concocts by eschewing the act of footboard travel. I proceeded to acquire for myself a bike, oddly, ironically enough – on the 6th of January, exactly 12 years later, to the day.

It was a sudden decision, one due mainly to the influx of a considerable quantity of capital in a single night. That was in a quiz, let me hasten to add, lest you, in your infinite perversion, proceed to make incorrect assumptions.

This new steed, then, would render train journeys, and consequently footboard travels unnecessary. Maybe not obliterate the practice altogether, but minimize it significantly.

Or so I thought. Considerable moisture, unfortunately, was precipitated upon the plans that were hatched in the preceding days.

“Sir, please don’t cross 40kmph until you’ve traveled 1000km.”

I put on my most nonchalant-unruffled-man-who-doesn’t-have-to-try-too-hard manner, ”I’ll try. Not crossing 140 is rather difficult, but I’ll manage.”


“Forty, sir. Not a hundred and.”

“Eh? FORTY? What the hell is the use of a bike if you cant even cross 40? I’d rather walk.”


“I wont do it. What’ll you do?”

“Please show up for engine repairs every fortnight then.”

A light glowed somewhere. A wily smile planted itself upon my face. Surely a 850 km trip in a general south-easterly direction would eat up these 1000km double quick. One such trip next month had already been planned during the design of air castles in the preceding days – indeed, long distance riding was a major reason for the acquisition of the steed.

The guy, unfortunately for me, was psychic.

“And sir, no long distance rides either for a 1000km.”

Mental note - order guillotine for use on guy.

“On pain of repairs, I presume?”

He nodded, glad that I understood.


I was called away to affix my signature on 37 different pieces of paper. It was a while before I returned.

“Why sir, you’re planning to go to your town on this bike sometime?”

“Yes. Been thinking of.”

“How far is it?”


“850? You wont do it in a day.”

The nonchalant-unruffled-man-who-doesn’t-have-to-try-too-hard mask came on again(it’s tiresome how often I’ve to do this:).

“Duh? That’s 14 hours. 6 am to 8 pm. Elementary, my dear. What son, do your math properly.”

“You might actually manage to go 60kmph for 14 hours without getting friendly with a lorry, I don’t doubt that at all.”, he mentioned with this air of a spiritually superior sage who is trying really hard not to pity the ignorant sinner who’s come to him.

Silence. I knew what was coming.

“Your engine’ll blow up if you try driving continuously that long.”

“That, presumably, is why it’s called an internal combustion engine?”, I helpfully elucidated.

Without paying the least heed, he continued in his sagely-advice mode ,”Rest your bike every couple of hours. Don’t go continuously all the way. I’d tell you to take two days if you’re trying 850.”


Soon enough, more lights went out. I had, during the painstaking construction of air palaces in the preceding days, observed, to my considerable delight, that the chart that indicated the toll to be paid on the express highway to Mumbai didn’t mention two wheelers at all. I wouldn’t have to shell out toll. Free. Free at last, and that sort.

Only to find out today that bikes aren’t allowed onto the express highway in the first place.

From that piece of knowledge, it was one small step to realizing that the road due south east was a part of the self same express highway.

Ostracized. Damn. Why, oh, why? Bikes don’t hurt no flies.

The road less taken it will be then. Hah. The management jargon spouting people at office will be quite proud of me. I think I should add words like challenge, motivation, quality and proactive somewhere here just as well.


The moment I reached home with the bike, I was mobbed by the young women residing on my street.

“Kya style maarta hai.” typified the comments that followed. Modesty prevents me from describing how impressed they aLL were.

We proceeded to converse upon the nature of life, universe and everything, until them young women were summoned back home. Homework, as one particular mom indicated. When young women are six years old, they haven’t much of a choice. I sent them on their way with the rejoinder ,”Do homework. It builds character.”

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