Read the blog below about auto-drivers in
With the arrival of the end of my bus-travel days, I looked forward to getting a 2-wheeler. Small thing now, but back in those days, to a guy like me it was as important as a color photo of Silk Smitha. Fate, however, made a quick move on me and sent me off from the city, moving the bike out of the picture. The closest analogy for this kind of disappointment, involves waiting in the movie ticket queue for about 30 patient minutes. With 3 people left, they announce that the last 20 tickets will be sold outside in black by the guy wearing red, on a highest-bidder basis. Multiplexes don’t do that, but try a Tamil or Telugu movie release on a weekend.
For all those intermittent visits to the city, the mode of transport forced upon me, was the humble autorickshaw - ‘humble’ being a reference to my state after being fleeced.
Only recently did Lady Luck smile again and put me back where I do belong –
Deciding to buy a bike was as easy as provoking Andrew Symonds in
Its time now to introduce a friend of mine – friend, philosopher and misguide – Manoj Bhat. A senior from college, Manoj in most aspects represents a typical MBA. Which means, he believes he’s either over-worked or underpaid and on Monday mornings, both. There are however, other aspects in which he doesn’t subscribe to the norms. His choice of leisure activities, for starters! Manoj is an endurance runner and most of his leisure time is spent training for the full-marathon. He is the kind who will run 20 kms in a matter of 2 hours and call it a warm-up. I on the contrary, would use a more scientific term to it – evaporation.
Also different or atleast not common-place is what he rides – A Thunderbird from the Royal Enfield stable. One may want to argue that it isn’t the greatest choice of a bike for city roads. “Why, a Pulsar or even a Splendor is far better for acceleration!” you may say. After half-a-dozen whiskey shots later you may even pick the gall to add “A TVS 50 or a Luna is more value for money!” I wouldn’t disagree with the former or the latter – more so with the latter because in principle, I don’t argue with anyone who has that much of alcohol in the body. All said and done, big bikes have a great appeal about them.
Paape’s Jawa was my first interaction with a member of the big-bike club. This was in 1998 when Pulsars were still restricted to the Physics syllabus. He would politely let me handle it from the bike-stand inside the college to the first junction we came across and when he was of a generous disposition, even further. A grand 200 meters it was. I even got to wipe the dust of its covers everyday, I remember. In return, I would ward off any attempts by the junior girls to play the role of Pillion on his bike. A very good friend I make. Loyalty is the key here… that and a mean look when any girl tried to capture the pillion seat. I would fight away the need to get onto a bus as much as I could. And if it meant my close friend would have to remain single and unable to mingle for 4 years – only fair, I thought.
In the run up to the final decision, I was faced with two front-running options - the Bullet always held an appeal, but as a practical choice, the Activa seemed to make sense. Unable to conclude, I checked with some friends.“An Activa is perfect for city roads; solid pick-up…yes, picking up girls also…. Yes... petrol and charm are both needed”
“Bullet – mileage and maintenance – not so easy. No spare parts easily available!”
“You got just one life Suri, go for it! You’ve always liked big bikes… remember the Jawa?”
“You’ve never owned a bike earlier, the Bullet will be too much to handle.”
Arguments were shot back and forth, all with the intent of easing the selection process. I gave it deep thought for nearly 3 days and an equal number of nights… By the morning of the fourth day, it was all over.
The winner was clear. The Bullet it was! If I ever convinced myself that the Activa was a better choice than the Bullet, I would do so because the grapes were sour and not because I genuinely felt that way about the Activa.
Having made the choice a quick check of the price list of the models at the nearby showroom was made. One lakh Rupees was the general figure. With my savings I could easily purchase the helmet and a mud-guard; with a kidney thrown in I guess the complete bike would be at buying length. Deciding to retain my body intact, I did the next best thing – approach Manoj and check if the biking club he rode with had any used-bikes up for sale.
A day passed by… then another! By the third day restlessness stepped into the picture and I cold-called Manoj. For all of my luck there was one, he said. A Thunderbird for 50K; the owner was abroad and wouldn’t return for a few years atleast. I could check the bike out anytime I wanted. This was it I knew. My bike was waiting for me somewhere. But I was unable to convince the owner for a 2 day warm-up period on the bike. Manoj stepped in again! He suggested a ride to Hoskote on his own Thunderbird, to figure out if I can handle it. At 11 in the morning on a Saturday we met up. I sat on a Royal Enfield, as a rider, for the first time and worked the gears. All smooth! The ride had begun. Power from the engine reached the wheels with precision. By the time we covered a few kilometers, I was convinced.
6 hours later I was back on my own. All that was there was to arrive at a fair price for the bike on sale and get to the haggling part with its owner. A short test ride to a mechanic and a phone call to the showroom later, the price was clear – 50K was on the higher side. The recommended price was 40K. “Five thousand rupees jaasthi for frensip” said the mechanic with a smile that was short of a few teeth. The mech gets his friends for dirt cheap I second guessed.
Within hours, the mail from me must have reached Manoj’s friend – the owner of the bike. 40K was what I was willing to give. It was only a matter of time before we arrived at some conclusion and with that feeling I relaxed. 2 days later the response wasn’t still there. The mail could have been wrongly recognized as spam; he may not have found time to read it – the possibilities were large.Things couldn’t wait any further at my end. I called his folks in
“Aunty, I checked with the mechanic. He said 50K was too high and 40K was a good price. Even the showroom person says the same. I’m fine upto 45K but nothing above that aunty… and yes, I’m also in a hurry to get done with this… before Dussehra goes by for sure… Oh! OK… that’s great to know… pretty good price too… What’s his name? That’s fine… Thanks a lot anyways aunty!”
A few minutes later, some friends and I marched up to get lunch at the office canteen. I felt heavy and settled down for a fruit salad - an unholy mess of banana, shredded oranges and apple pieces, all mixed with honey and topped with a lot of grapes. “So when are you getting that Thunderbird” asked one of the colleagues. “Weren’t you supposed to know the final price yesterday itself”, he continued.
“Thunderbird? It’s not such a great bike” I remarked, while shoving some of the fruit mix into my mouth. “I’m buying the Honda Activa, its certainly the better one for me."
And as I chewed on the salad, I could feel the grapes.... the grapes.... were sour!