10 May, 2009

Cycling memories








During childhood we dream to learn few things. I always feel that it was nice to have struggled in younger days; otherwise I would not have had many dreams. Again the pleasure of dreaming is equalled when you achieve them personally.

One of such dream was to learn cycling and own a bicycle. Bicycles are poor man’s transport even today in third world countries. I have grown up seeing few people owning their bicycle with great pride. All my neighbours had bicycles and it was a great sight to watch them wave to their family and pedalling off. We lived in a place where we had a car factory and most of my neighbours worked in that factory. In those days, mopeds were not popular and bicycles were affordable.

If Natarajan Uncle had a full chainguard, and a yellow cloth covered on his head light, my neighbour Jayaram Uncle wiped and cleaned it every week end. The way they took care of their cycles impressed me a lot. After putting the cycle on stand, they used to pedal and see the rear wheel rotating and clean the rim. As a kid, I always stood near my neighbours when they were cleaning their bicycle. I used to question at every stage why they were doing it. They did explain everything with so much of patience. After completing their cleaning and oiling when they pedalled for a test drive, I used to lip smack and wonder. A smile from me and a dream to grow big and own a bicycle got instilled in my mind.

Once during my summer holidays I had been to a village where my cousin was living with her in-laws in a joint family. That was my best summer holiday because I learnt cycling. Rangu Anna (my cousin’s brother-in-law) who was a bachelor then, had all the patience to teach me cycling. Every morning he made me to sit on the cycle and came running behind the cycle holding it. It was an hour every morning and I picked up the balance within few days. Oh.. What a great feeling it was! After few days, he would hold the cycle and let me get on to it and then wait for me to turn the cycle and come back to him. I returned back home from holidays and wanted to continue cycling. The only friend who had a cycle and was able to pedal them was Shekhar. They were doing milk business and he took his cycle everyday to pour milk at every house in the neighbourhood. I used to run along with him when he pedalled his cycle and enjoyed seeing him cycling with those milk cans. He was a ‘Hercules’ for us since he was able to do many things like a ‘hero’. My interest on cycling increased and so I started liking all my neighbours who owned a bicycle.

So every weekend went to my neighbour’s house and Jayaram Uncle was a very kind person. I used to ask him whether he needed my help to go for shopping, since he offered his bicycle too. I took care of his bicycle like my own and handled it carefully. Whenever I felt like cycling, he was there to offer. Nobody other than me would have felt sad when they had to move house.

My other neighbours were very strict and did not bother to lend their cycle. One of my friends found a new person Ramu Uncle, who had a new cycle and was very kind enough to lend his cycle to even go until the next town. Though I knew him personally, I felt awkward to ask him. But he talked with me one day and said that I can take his bicycle to help his wife getting provisions, and as well as help my mother too. He was kind enough to lend his bicycle.

Another gentleman by name Chakravarthi Iyengar, was also a kind person. He never used his bicycle and was always ready to lend us his cycle and happily received us whenever we went to his house. I was finally able to get my own bicycle only at the age of 18. It was a great moment. A dream that was coming true on that day. I was so excited and pedalled all the 15 miles from the shop to my house on the very first day. I possessed it with so much of pride. I brought in all the techniques I learnt from my neighbours in maintaining it.

Once when my son became 4, I wanted to teach him to ride a bicycle. It is always better to teach kids when they are young. Though my son learnt it from me when he was less than 5, last summer I taught my daughter who was eager to learn.

She learnt it within hours and without any injury. Though she fell down after few days while doing some trick, she was the quickest learner. Nowadays it has become a routine to take the kids for long cycling especially during the weekends.

However, I really doubt whether my kids relish their bikes the same way as me because of the way they handle. There is always a pleasure in dreaming for something and getting it.

Nowadays kids dream for very expensive things and their happiness and spirit dies sooner they get it. Even last weekend when my kids took their bikes, I was laughing to myself thinking about my younger days and they all wondered why I was smiling and looking lost!

How can I explain them all the joy? It may not sound great for them because they have heard it from me lot of times.

I bet those younger days are the best!

10 comments:

Dot said...

It took me a year to ride a bicycle.It's true that we appreciate stuffs that earned after hardship.
Kids these days...hmm :)

ugich konitari said...

Came here from Kavi's.

What a great cycling post. I grew up in Pune, and my school and college years, late 60's and early 70's were all where cycling was a daily part of my life.

I think todays kids miss out on the sort of fun we had learning things and making do with ordinary stuff. All this helmets and training wheels stuff , kind of gets me a bit cynical, although I can see the utility :-)

Kavi said...

That yellow cloth on the cycle lamp was so damn nostalgic !

And ofcourse that chain gaurd. I wonder if you stuck an empty cigarette paper into the wheel...so that it made a noise and everybody thought you drove a motorised bike !

Atleast you thought everybody thought so !!

those were the days werent they ! Your post reminded me of those days !!

:)

Jeevan said...

True bro, today’s kids’ accessible things easier and they are advanced, so those days can’t match. I too have dreamed about owing a cycle and like to do more than what others do to get attention and I got it when I was less than 10. Surprising me learned cycling about in an hour like your daughter.

My friend’s father had a bicycle then and the times we used to play, he return from his work and we play sometime pedaling to see the dynamo light glow. The pictures are wonderful and seem you all ride in pleasure. Happy cycling :)

rummuser said...

What a fantastic post. Worth waiting all this while! Nice to see you blogging again.

Many of my memories of bicycling are also parallel to yours. My uncle had a bicycle repair and hiring out shop in Adayar in Chennai. He was a very well known personality in that area as he was also a Josier capable of reading horoscopes!

One of my earliest memories is riding a gent's bicyle by sticking one leg between the triangle as I was unable to climb on to the bicycle being too high! Did you ever do that?

ambi said...

Felt nostolgic on reading your post (many times, of course).

You nicely narrated your past to the present.
Still i don't know how to climb in the cycle. when i was short, i used to search for tall stones to climb. Now i am quite tall enough to climb. he hee :))
Happy cycling.

Then, How is Life balaji?

Sriram said...

awesome post. brought back so many memories.

nice pics!

Balaji S Rajan said...

Dot,

Looks like this is your first visit to my blog. Welcome and thanks for your visit and valuable comments.

Balaji S Rajan said...

Ugich,

Yes today's kids miss out many things. I shall write about them in my future post. Thanks for visiting.

Balaji S Rajan said...

Kavi,

LOL! I never had the guts to do it with my neighbour's cycle. I have observed my friend's making that noise. I got a bike only when I grew up. By that time, I had matured and did not want to do those experiments. I have enjoyed showing such things to kids.

LOL! They are typical isn't it?