"sit down. I can't see. move ahead. Ohh-don't move. close your eyes when there is dust" some common commands often uttered by my father while driving. he is not an F1 racer, but driving a scooter with a kid in the front- sitting on the tip of the seat, another in the back with hands around his waists- sandwiched between wife and himself, and wife at the back guarding the kid with one hand around the kid and the other holding the "stefani" (spare tire) -was no less than a circus feat. 2 seats but 4 people seated on them- Another luxury of a middle class family. No, we are not poor to walk or to travel by buses. We are not rich to buy a car or take an auto rickshaw. We are from middle class and we are pretty comfortable to squeeze ourselves and "adjust" in just 2 seats. We can stretch once we get down or take frequent breaks while driving for a long distance (more than 15kms). In between, we also buy veggies and put them in the front storage or underneath the seat onto the left. A typical middle class-mode of transport. May be thats how, I learnt to "adjust", "compromise" and "share".
My father and mother would allow us to change our seats. Until we grew taller (I am 5'7'' and my sister is 5'9"), we tried to travel together on our Bajaj Priya scooter. In early 80s, having a scooter was a luxury. Yes, not many families who resided in colonies (which are slowly diminishing) had any vehicle. We were often called as the 'white scooter family'. Or my father would say, "just enter the street and keep walking. Once you see a white scooter parked outside the house, thats our house!" Such an easy navigation technique which doesn't require any GPS or Maps. All it needs is a mark and that's our scooter.
Now, why am I talking about scooter here? May be because am reliving those good old days and remembering how a family of four travelled to different places within city limits together on a scooter. This particular machine took us to schools, hospitals, helped us in socialising and always made sure we 4 are together.
One thing that I distinctly remember was the horn of our scooter. We would say from a distance that my father was coming home. My mother always wondered how we could recognise our scooter horn? May be thats the bond between horn and ear. The sound of the horn would alert us and we would pretend to either study or start having food to make a picture in front of my father. That horn also had many meanings. If my father blew it twice, that means, we should hurry up and come out soon. If my father honked it once, that means he is home. If my father honked it several times, that means "kisi ki baji".
incidents like puncture, breakage of clutch wire, oozing oil, airless tire were so common that they virtually made me a mechanic. I would help my father in fixing a flat tire, or changing oil. I knew how to open the oil tank and how to much to fill up. Since, the scooter had gears, my father made a rule that he would buy me a "sunny" only after I drive the scooter and also make a turn without keeping my legs down. Alas! I did it. So, in a way, my scooter helped me in my promotion too. I always miss it especially the small rides with my father to the nearby veggie market or a small shopping center.
Nowadays when I see the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) boards on US highways I can't stop laughing. The sign board says HOV 2 that means, any vehicle which has 2 or more passengers have special lanes which are often vacant. In those terms, what is our scooter called as? a plane? no wonder!
Icing on cake - Our scooter had number plate which says- AAG- that means 'Fire' (aag in hindi)
|(courtesy- google images)|