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Cycling on the road to nostalgia 

Each one of us has to go; there is no queue system as such. But losing our friends, who were definitely not old enough to die, is real sorrow
Last Updated : 26 May 2023, 20:13 IST
Last Updated : 26 May 2023, 20:13 IST

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My father worked for the health department, and transfers were part of our lives. By the time I entered seventh grade, I had already seen five places. It was way back in 1973 when we came to Vittla, a small, sleepy town in Dakshina Kannada. One of my friends in the class taught me to cycle on the school playground. Later, I perfected the skill and cycled along the streets of the town on my own.

When I reached the pre-university stage, I had another friend who owned a bicycle. On almost a daily basis, we used to meet in the evening and go for a walk or occasionally cycle. This bond was intact for nearly five years until I got a job elsewhere and had to travel to different places, thanks to the transferrable nature of my job. With this friend, I remember going to Puttur, a Taluka headquarters 15 kilometres away, to watch movies. Isn’t it always nice to cherish such nostalgia?

I retired from my service just a few months ago. There are several positive aspects to post-retirement life. One, of course, is attending social functions with considerable time on hand. Recently, at one such function, I met one of my classmates who had been with me in the same class for nine years. As we were meeting after four decades, neither of us could recognise each other, and only after someone else told us could we recall! Then it was time to travel back in time as we chatted.

The paddy fields surrounding the town had already paved the way for government bus stands and shops. In the cycle shop where we could hire bicycles, a mobile phone showroom had come up. One tent talkie where we had enjoyed watching several movies had totally disappeared. Now that entertainment is available at one’s fingertips or via a remote button, who cares for a theatre? A huge billboard of a movie advertisement on ‘naalku maarga’, where four roads met, was one of the main attractions for us. Now where is it? The tailoring shop, which was our meeting point for evening chitchats, had made way for a branded dress shop with glossy windows. An ice cream parlour with plush interiors had come up in place of a cold house with wooden furniture. The trees by the side of the narrow roads, which used to provide us shelter during the hot summer, had lost their life and space to road widening. The small ground, which provided us the pleasure of watching ‘cycle balance’ wherein the rider had to remain on the bicycle for seven long days, had lost its identity.

Like any other small town or village, our town has lost its identity. I have no words to express how I feel about losing two of my cycling pals who were part of my school and college days’ journey. Each one of us has to go; there is no queue system as such. But losing our friends, who were definitely not old enough to die, is real sorrow.

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Published 26 May 2023, 17:36 IST

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