An ‘upcycle’ journey

An ‘upcycle’ journey

RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE

Going for a spin in the countryside also fills one’s lungs with pure air and lifts the spirits. Representative image/Pixabay

In the 1970s and early 80s, nothing was more pleasurable than cycling on the empty streets of Bengaluru. For a song, you could rent out a bicycle and go for a spin. My younger sibling, N J Presanna Kumar and I would hop on to the saddle and venture on a voyage of discovery, exploring new locales and neighbourhoods. It was sheer joy to race or zip through the leafy avenues which held no terrors, save for the odd bus, horse-carriage or cycle-rickshaw. We also rode our ‘chariots’ to distant playfields and maidans, often in groups to participate in cricket and hockey matches. The thought of pedalling long distances to lock horns with our adversaries always excited us. The ‘cargoes’ of cricketing gear and food packed lovingly by the mothers accompanied us on our expedition.

I experienced the joys of bicycle rides when I was still a toddler. Made to sit on a towel-wrapped crossbar, I would be ferried from my parent’s house to my maternal grandparent’s abode, situated a couple of kilometres away by my maternal uncle M D Umapathi, who also happened to be my first driver. Though sitting on the hollow pipe did hurt, my uncle would take pains to adjust the towel every few yards to make me comfortable.

My father M N Jayaraman possessed, a gleaming black Atlas, which was much prized as it was a wedding gift from his in-laws. The ‘black beauty’ was kept spick and span. He was very possessive about his bicycle and refused to lend it to even his close friends. However, he was kind enough to let my brothers and I learn, admonishing us in the event of a fall. It was a pretty sight to see him get on the saddle and pedal away with the lower end of his immaculate white trousers folded and held in place by a pair of circular metal clips to prevent them from getting soiled.

My first bicycle was a Hero brought out of my salary savings in the early 80s. My days as a cyclist was not without drama. I once veered off course and collided head-on with a next-door neighbour nursing a broken limb. The unfortunate gentleman had just stepped out of the safety of his abode for his morning walk. The man’s dagger-like looks scared the living daylight out of me. On another occasion, I lost control while negotiating a sharp bend on the road and ended up in a ditch with bruises all over. Not a stickler for rules, I also had run-ins with the cops for riding ‘doubles’ or without a lamp after dusk. Cycling comes loaded with health benefits. It strengthens our lower bodies and improves stamina and agility. Going for a spin in the countryside also fills one’s lungs with pure air and lifts the spirits.

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