I remember, my father bought a bicycle when I was in Class 6. Basically he used the cycle to go to office and bazar etc. I clearly remember the bicycle cost as it was quite unique. I overheard father tell the price to one of his friends- “Five Fives”, i.e., Rs.555.55.
I was 12 and the Black Hercules cycle was too big for my age. I started by riding Half Paddle. I fell many times while learning, got many cuts and bruises but the cycle was as sturdy as ever.
That was in Calcutta. In 1986 we moved to Bombay.
When we arrived in Bombay, my first desire was to see Amitabh Bachchan’s bungalow. New in the city and friendless, the only company I had was my bicycle. So one evening I took out my Hercules Cycle and finally located Amitabh Bachchan’s residence. I was not impressed by the look of the bungalow.
But the discovery of the bungalow sparked a new interest. Every evening, I took out my bicycle, made my way to Vile Parle East railway crossing, crossed over to Parle west and then to Amitabh Bachchan’s bungalow. Cycling to and from was exciting. The bungalow was just a landmark. I never saw Amitabh Bachchan till much later when I was working at the Airport.
After the cycling trip to Bachchan Bungalow was over, I often stopped over at the Juhu Beach. Standing on the beach I watched the Sea-Rock Hotel. I had no idea of the route to the hotel except that it was due south from the Beach.
So one day, when the Bachchan trip was over, instead of stopping at the beach I started cycling towards Sea-Rock. A wanted a new more distant landmark.
The plan was to cycle south and keep south. I went on big roads, small roads, bylanes, small lanes and all sorts of lanes but ultimately maintained south. I did not ask for directions as I was confident that if I keep south I will make it.
And I made it. And Sea-Rock was a better place than the dull Bachchan Bungalow. Sea-Rock was interesting. I saw many good fashionable babes with their guys huddled in the cars, parked near the Lands-End. More middle-classy couples were huddled in the rocks below. I was not interested in the Rocks. Cars were sexier.
Gradually Bachchan Bungalow faded and I started my trips towards sea-rock. I never saw any popular film stars but I saw Vijayendra Ghatge and it was a big thing for me.
My Bicycling trips continued till Aug of 1988. When I entered college father got me a Yamaha Rx 100. The bicycling stopped and motor biking started. And the Hercules retired.
The old Hercules Bicycle stood and rusted over the years and was finally disposed off in 2002.
College motor biking was fun. The fun gradually dwindled after I started working. And with famous Mumbai traffic jams, the motorbike interest dwindled further. Then I got a car or rather a music playing ice-box. Car or motorbike, any vehicle in Mumbai proper is like a disable’s cart dragging itself on pot-holed roads.
So when Sunil Kamath mentioned that he has bought a new mountain-bike and has started cycling to Kanheri caves and Uttan etc, I was immediately fired up. Buried inside me, was no ordinary cycling seed but a fully grown cycling tree. It required just one wish to get the Ginny burst out of the bottle.