The bygone bicycle days

From the albums

The bygone bicycle days

The photograph above was taken in 1974 at Brindavan Hotel, MG Road, to mark the successful completion of our apprentice training at Robert Bosch India Limited (earlier known as Mico).

About 30 of us joined Mico in 1971 as apprentice trainees. We underwent a rigorous training there comprising theory classes as well as practicals. I must say that this training programme played a vital role in developing each of us into self-sufficient citizens.

At that time, most of us used to commute by bicycles; I used to take about 45 minutes to reach Mico from Rajajinagar. Cycling  was a pleasure then as the vehicle population was very less — I don’t remember witnessing a major road accident during the three-year-period.  I remember riding my bicycle sometimes without pedalling (I used to hold the shoulder of my friend Shastry, who had an Italian Vespa scooter.) The Hudson Circle (near Corporation Circle) was a really big circle with a huge tree in the centre – that’s missing now. However, we should feel good that the Ashoka Pillar in Jayanagar has retained its glory even today.

 At Mico, the breakfast, snacks and tea/coffee were provided at subsidised rates. We had to pay 10 paise for a coffee and a snack while tea would cost six paise. The lunch was unlimited and absolutely free. We used to spend our weekends watching a movie in the Cantonment area (Blumoon, Rex, Plaza, Opera and Lido — some of these aren’t even there now.) We frequently visited Sapna Restaurant for South Indian snacks and meals. The common meeting point during the evenings was Crown Cafe on Brigade Road, where we would order a cup of tea each and spend almost two hours!

Those three years passed by and in the end, we had the qualifying examination wherein 28 of us out of 30 (one person left the training and the other expired) passed with 85 per cent or more marks. We also felt very proud that one of our batch mates won the President’s gold medal! With this success, we all became ‘proud employees’ of Mico. During the training period, we were paid a stipend of Rs 150 per month and it increased to a salary of Rs 450 once we graduated and became regular employees!

I bought a second-hand Lambretta scooter in 1976 and it was a thrill to ride it from Rajajinagar to Adugodi. Many a time, I would zoom on my scooter from Rajajinagar, pass through Sujatha Theatre and reach Okalipuram junction in fourth gear itself! (One may not believe but petrol used to cost only Rs 3.50 per litre in those days!)

It’s been more than 40 years since we joined Mico. Many of us left Mico later in pursuit of better career opportunities. However, most of us are retired now. Fortunately, some of us are still in touch with each other.

Ramesh has totally transformed; he is now called Revathi Ramanadas and is the head of ISKCON, Hyderabad. Kapanipathi has been closely associated with the Koramangala Club right from its inception and was one of its office bearers till the recent past. Venkatesh is the office bearer of Arekere Mico Layout Association; though retired, he continues to train Bosch employees on technical as well as soft skills. Sudhandra Prakash renders his service to Bosch in the area of product design while I am supporting the quality initiatives at Sonata Software, Basavanagudi.

One good thing about our team is that though most of us are retired, no one is really tired!  For many of us, it is almost half a century in Bengaluru and we love the City.

(The author can be contacted on 9740322281)

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