Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tricycles and Bicycles

Latha's parents had moved into their own newly built house, just a stone's throw away.  They were tenants at our house [upstairs] for some years prior to it.  Latha, a year younger to me was also my 'first childhood friend'.  There was a little tricycle with her.  It had a separate seat and also a back rest for the pillion.  We used to ride it in the narrow space between the compound and her house. When she rode, I became the pillion and when she rode, I became the pillion.  Since I had no tricycle of my own, my enjoyment was manifold when Latha graciously allowed me to pedal it.  It was great fun for a 5-year old.

Latha's nephew Srinivas who was my classmate and lived in the next street.  All of us went to school together.  Srinivas had a toy 'scooter' like this, red in colour:

It had only two wheels and the rider had to know balancing.  It was a funny feeling when I attempted to ride because I had never before had the feel of the two-wheeler or the courage to venture on it.  At the same time, our new upstairs tenant had got his daughter Nandini such a scooter.  Any child could ride it because it was a 'three wheeler'.  When the squeak of its wheels was heard downstairs I used to climb up and beg a ride.

There was my father’s childhood tricycle, unusable and dumped in our toilet's attic for decades.  Long later, I was to get this front wheel replaced when our children arrived to ask for the tricycle!  

This is that old tricycle, may be from the 1920s.  See the replaced front wheel.  My daughter recalling her younger days on it!  I had made a new wooden seat.

In my 6th year, I was bought a little kid's blue bicycle with support wheels at the rear axle.  This prevented toppling over and helped learn 'balancing'.  The more it was ridden this way, the quicker we learnt and gained confidence, which I did and got 'its feel'.  It had hard rubber tyres and was bought at Sachidananda Cycle Mart, [next to Olympia Theatre], whose owner was a client of my grand father and a very reliable bicycle dealer.  Even now the shop continues to function.

It did not take very long for my uncle to recognize that I could ride without the supports. He removed them.  Bicycle riding was a new feeling!  Soon, I was on the street. Streets were bereft of traffic in those days with just an occasional bicycle or a scooter that slowly passed by.  So the entire street belonged to playing children.  It was a virtual playground buzzing with activity.  Even in such a 'peaceful' scenario, my grandmother was scared.  She was ever watchful of me taking out the little bike.  I have made hundreds of rounds in our spacious hall itself, but my outside boundary was set by her.  It was supposed to be only within the sights of our Devaparthiva Road.  I dared cross this "Lakshman Rekha" she had set.   At times I would break out to the next road to make a ‘round trip’.  Because of fear of my grandmother, it seemed like an adventure in itself!

For the bike's minor repairs Shivaram would do them in his shop at the 'T' junction at the end of the road and visible from our house . 

My daughter who had learnt to ride without support wheels on the second day itself brought memories of my own time with my blue bike in the mid 60s.  Mine was was smaller to this bike. 

I was adventurous to some extent with the blue bike.  Had I known about doing the 'wheelie' stunt in those days, I might have tried it too.  I used to thud-thud down the couple of steps in our yard!  Looking back now, I wonder why the fork did not snap.  I had soon learnt taking off both the hands from the handlebar, on the move.  Scraped knees and elbows were not one bit a deterrent to continue the various acrobatics and stunts which I enjoyed performing, mostly to please myself.  I was in full control of my bicycle.  I had seen bicycle stunts in circuses but I did not know at that time they were manipulated ones!!  Another stunt I tried to emulate was of a motorbike and a car at the circus speeding up a ramp, being airborne and landing with a thud!  3 bicyclists in a globe riding their bicycles with speed went round and round. I wondered why they did not clash or fall! 

My blue bicycle served me well and saw me graduate to the senior bike.  I get the feeling that it must have been ridden by me for a thousand miles in all!  I must say it even survived and passed the test for sturdiness which was a testimony of quality of goods in the 1960s.  It was still good enough when this was given away to my twin cousins who used it for a short period before finally disposing it off.

My street mate Raju [Ravishankar], two years senior to me, learnt balancing on this little bike for which I was instrumental.  He may not remember. I had the chance to help him learn it!  The little blue bike lived more than its full life.  

1 comment:

Adina Dosan said...

Dinu, what great memories! I didn't have a bycicle ever and I don't know how to ride one.LOL But I'm happy my grandson has one now!