This week end was out of the world as I became a proud owner of a new Royal Enfield bike. Bikes were my passion & my first bike stayed with me for 20 years plus. Secondly, the monsoon has started and the weather is lovely. The water falls have come alive with greenery everywhere. Old memories got rekindled. My eyes got moist, as to drive a bike after ages awakened the child in me.
The relation I shared with my first one called “Christine” was sublime. Though, I used to get posted out to field stations where she could not accompany me but on return she used to come to life moment I used to touch her. Half a kick and she used to purr. Even though her battery used to get drained out, her indicators used to be broken but never ever did it stop or trouble me.
In Staff College, Wellington, Christine took me and my wife to every nook and cranny of the Nilgiris. Not a single lake, not a single tea garden and not a single vineyard we missed. Ooty used to be like Kapurthala-Jalandhar. A bottle of chilled beer used to be always handy at home in Gorkha Hills. We used to pick up biryani from Conoor. The Pack-08 (Fauji jhola) was a standard fit on one side and used to be stuffed with a durrie, daru and roti. Piercing through the cloud and fog we used to explore the area like adventurers. Pykara Lake was our favourite haunt besides the famous chocolate shop at Charing Cross in Ooty.
This Friday, keys of the new Thunderbird were handed over to me. The first halt was at the Gas Station and the first command was Bhaiya tank full kar do. She was filled up to the brim. Now I tried locking the petrol tank back, the damn thing just won’t lock. My daughter got a little perturbed as the line behind was increasing and the irritation of the people was showing through the honking.
I pushed the bike to the side and tried to get my helmet off. That damn thing also got stuck as it had a new kind of locking system. Somehow, I was able to open the chin strap after some wrestling and at the last moment my dark glasses got stuck in the strap and flew off. Fauji instinct and reactions caught hold of it. We lumbered and toiled but the fuel tank just won’t close. I told my daughter baitho. She said papa how will we go, I said don’t worry as the duplicate key was also hanging with the main key. I left the fuel tank open and with the fuel cap hanging, shoved the duplicate key in the ignition and started the bike. The thunder and lightning was giving me the shivers lest rain water gets in but we drove on as the show room very was close by. Those people laughed at us as I didn’t know how to remove the key. He just press fitted the fuel tank cap and the damn key got ejected automatically. I looked at my daughter and she looked back at me. We smiled and moved on. I was a novice afterall.
Well we had to pick up the customary mithai. I bought Kaju Katli, Rasgoolas and my favourite “Palang Tor”. Daughter in the meanwhile picked up coupons for gol-gappas. I enjoyed them. I said to hell with it even if the pani of the poori gets stuck in my moustache, so be it.
We started on our home run from Alibaug to Salav. I suddenly realised that the speedometer is not working, now was the dilemma to turn back or continue. I decided the former. Showroom chap was shocked “not again”. They realised that they had disconnected the cable for RTO passing. Then the “Neutral” light won’t glow either. He told me sir, the gear lever needs to be kicked hard and I did and poof the green lamp of “N” showed up on the console. I told him “anymore surprises” tell me now or else I know how and where to kick you too jokingly.
We got back home, did a small photo op. Then for old times’ sake I took my actual girlfriend (my wife) on her first drive on the Thunderbird. It was fun because of the overcast sky. All old memories of our motorcycling adventures as newlyweds came rolling back. She held me tight and we drove off into the wilderness and relived those days. Nostalgia had set in and we shall revive the best days of our lives again.
On father’s day, papa and beti went for a long drive on the beast in heavy rain. I was the happiest as my daughter insisted on buying a helmet for herself. I as a habit wear it even for a 50 meter ride. Will our example be a motivation for the crowd over here to wear a helmet always? I wonder!!!!!!!!
© Noel Ellis