“My two favourite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything. The perfect day: riding a bike to the library.”
― Peter Golkin
The other day, in my yoga class, we were discussing about how it is important to learn to drive at the least a two wheeler and some ladies there mentioned that they don’t even know how to ride a bicycle in the first place, let alone to try and balance a two wheeler. And some could drive a four wheeler but not a two wheeler. [As a side note, it is always said that riding a bicycle will help us to learn to balance but that has got nothing to do with learning to drive a car. As for a two wheeler , it might probably help but I know one person, my sister, who never managed to learn a cycle but is doing OK with a non-geared two wheeler.] That discussion reminded me of some memories during my cycling days. I don’t remember how it started, but when I told my dad that I need a cycle to ride, he asked me if I knew how to ride first. When I said that I will learn once he gets me a new one, he set a challenge to me. I should hire a cycle and start learning if I really want to , but I will get my own only if I get a proficiency award in my 4th grade, failing which I would have at least learnt how to cycle as a consolation prize. I don’t know if he did this to just rile me up, but I became too determined to prove him. Prove him what ? I honestly didn’t know, just that I will have to learn it and get my cycle at the end of that school year. So I got the cycle for hire and that old man (yes, old man – 🙂 he gets really really angry when I call him that) refused to hold my cycle to help me get my balance. So there I was trying to balance, with my brother trying to snatch it from me so that he can learn and I was doing my best up and down that street. I was still wobbling a lot, and during my return journey from the end of the road, I
was going straight towards a vegetable vendor, strike that, I was going in my straight line and a vegetable vendor crossed the road to my side of the road and was coming my way (now, it becomes his fault!!!) I didn’t know what to do, so I kept yelling at him to move, but either he didn’t hear or didn’t bother, and in my panic state, I tried to turn at the last minute and rammed straight at the back of an old man with an umbrella knocking him down and falling down in the process too. Poor old grandpa. He never knew what hit him until he turned back 🙂 I had tears because I was afraid he was gonna scold me. But everyone brushed it as if it is OK to do it while learning, including that vegetable vendor who tsk tsked (Grrrr!!!) I was saying sorry over and over to the old grandpa and finally got up and pushed my cycle to my house and if I could do some harm to my dad with my look I know I would have made him bald that day (he is a little touchy about his hair). But then I felt a little better the next day even though I had some bruises in my arm. And yes, I did get my own cycle that school year end along with a best student and proficiency award.
Now that I had my own, I used to go zipping from here to there and everywhere and my brother was very little at that age, the smallest of all (that total opposite of who he is right now – a giant). So I used him as my guinea pig to try the doubles. I threatened made him to sit at the back seat and went zooming at the maximum speed in the main roads. While trying to cross the road which goes to our street, I had to cross the main road. I saw a bus coming our way and it was already half way through. But I did some calculations and felt it in my bones that I could cross that road before the bus could get near. I used to do that many times. But I forgot that I had someone else in the back seat and suddenly my pickup speed reduced and there I was almost at the center of the road with the bus screeching to a halt and in my panic I literally stopped the cycle and was looking at the driver with a blank expression, not realizing that my brother had gotten down and had run home crying ‘murder’. I never repeated that stunt ever in my life and ever since that incident I am always careful with my driving , in any type of vehicle, if I have someone with me. I would still do some stunts but strictly when I am alone.
One day when I was coming back from school at the middle of the day, I was feeling too tired and sleepy. Thankfully the roads were empty. And our street would be mostly empty until the evening. As soon as I entered my street, don’t ask me why, I thought that if I kept the cycle straight and keep pedaling I could even close my eyes for a few seconds to get over that too sleepy feeling and reaching home in the mean time too. Then suddenly I realized my pedaling is not having any effect. So I opened my eyes, and saw that I landed on top of a mound of sand and stones that were kept at the side of the street (they were laying new roads that time). The only fear I had at that time was, if some one had seen me looking like a statue standing on the top of a stone, which would have embarrassed me to no extreme. Thankfully I had opened my eyes to a very empty street and immediately got down from that mound (I still don’t know how I got up there) and cycled with open eyes to my house.
Ah! those times!