The Wind that Wanders

To wander is to be alive.

Chapter 1: A Pedestrian Life

I never owned a bicycle as a kid for innumerable reasons. Perhaps the most pressing one among them could have been that I didn’t have to move around a lot. Having spent most of my childhood(from class 6th-12th) in a residential school, the only time had got to go around was vacations. However, much before joining the aforesaid school, I tried to learn to ride on my cousin’s cycle. She wasn’t really the trainer-kind– and I fell off, right into drainage; not to mention this single incident had shut off any motivation to learn to ride.

The year 2006. I graduated from the residential school; and joined a college in the neighbourhood for a Bachelor’s degree. I used to walk to the college and it was almost 2kms from my house. Thoughts of getting a cycle crossed my mind several times, but I was too ashamed that I didn’t know, and the shame deterred me from learning again. And three years flew by me without knowing how to ride.

I graduated again.

The year 2010. I joined for my Masters Degree in Mumbai. I lived on campus. Our campus was very small, yet I used to see rare incidents of students roaming on a bicycle inside the campus. Too many things have happened in those 2 years; perhaps more than what happened in my life until then. I grew up. I started facing my fears and started fighting back. (I know all these sounds too cliched, but trust me it was more eventful and; hence interesting than how it sounds right now. Yet I do not want to steer the conversation away from my cycling journey to My Journey(note the capital M and J); and will save it for another occasion. ) A classmate of mine owned a cycle, and I badly wanted to ride it. Since I didn’t know how to ride one; I chose to ride on it; oh, and it didn’t have a carrier or a pillion seat. He took me around in the cycle while I sat on the crossbar(yep, I just googled it right now). I guess he enjoyed it more than I did. 😛

And once again, I graduated.

The year 2012. I joined my first job in Anand, Gujarat. A peaceful small town. Manu had come there to help me find a place and settle down. My office was a little farther from the town; formed part of a small forest( or a Woodend). Transportation seemed tricky- had to rely on an auto-rickshaw while going up, and if lucky, you would get a rickshaw back to the town, or you simply have to walk a minimum of 1.5kms to the nearest junction with a hope to get an auto from there. It was my idea to get the cycle; Manu thought it would be a better idea too. 6kms up and down every day would also give me the workout my body needs. (It was the time I had started gaining weight too). He tried training me. He really did. But I think I was not ready. Perhaps. I was afraid. Job included lots of travelling; mostly interstate and I was hardly at home to learn again. The travel had somewhat emboldened me and was never afraid to ask for a ride whenever I was stranded( I had made a friend or two because of this). Slowly I forgot about my purple cycle that was lying around in the parking lot of my apartment. At times, a colleague would invite me to join him on inter-city rides; which I would politely reject on account of my backache. Little did he know about my secret- that I only own a cycle, never rode them.

Yet there were times that I would take out my cycle, walk with it, and grab an ice cream from the nearby Amul factory outlet. ( Yes, I lived opposite to Amul factory) I think I personified my cycle that riding on her would seem grossly inappropriate(?); or perhaps that was just me trying to rationalise my handicap( I did think it was a limitation). When my parents visited me, my father once again attempted to teach me. I did manage to ride for a couple of metres but soon would lose balance.

The fear of falling terrified me- literally and metaphorically. I left behind my cycle when I left Anand.

….to be continued

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