From Being An Enigma To A Trusty Friend, Bajaj Chetak Set My Wheels In Motion
My day begins with a first look at the light lemony four-speed tandem parked inside my house–the Bajaj Chetak scooter, as it is famously known. It has been thus since I was four and could continue till I turn 84 (if I live to be that old), for quite like most humans, these scooters are known to have a longer life span. The same story was repeated even today, though the only difference is that the one I have at present was purchased only last year. Its sturdy predecessor that previously occupied the position where it is parked today was yellowish in colour and belonged to my uncle, an expert in dealing with machines and gadgets, with whom my family shared the house as we had a joint family.
And as I proceeded to dust it as per my routine before leaving for office, I managed to take a plunge down the memory lane when I was barely four and held the vehicle in great awe. I could remember fingering my uncle’s Bajaj Chetak, the day it landed at our residence for the time, twenty years ago, brand new. Its frame was gigantic as compared to my tiny structure and was probably ten times weightier than I was. Being the baby of the house I was directed to stay away from it if the adults were not around as it could fall on me and reduce me to a pulp.
The scooter was more of an enigma for me as when I went for outings with my uncle, I was asked to keep my little fingers away from the gears for the fear of hurting myself, whenever I rode up front. It had to be tipped before it could be started, which I found quite funny and absurd. And on top of it, every time it was kicked to a start, its voice startled me and I detested the noxious fumes that it emitted though in that age I had virtually no idea about air-pollution or its harmful effects on human health and environment.
Nearly everyday I used to see my mechanical minded uncle taking it apart in the name of maintenance and then putting it back together. It was a rough job, which I detested and considered a waste of time. Though my uncle often talked that he got good mileage out of it, a Bajaj Chetak was a vehicle, which I found virtually hard to understand even when I progressed in age and started attending school and later college. A feeling that it might not be as fearsome as I deem it if I learn to drive a scooter made me ask my uncle to help me learn the basics of driving.
He agreed and we both set to work in our sprawling premises, on his two-wheeler, which had sailed marvelously through the years under his control. In the beginning, learning to balance it was a really big ordeal. I will never forget the day when I landed in a flower beds and got scratches all over my body, while trying to control the vehicle. It was all too embarrassing as many in the neighbourhood witnessed this occurrence. On top of it, the gears were hard, so hard that trying to change them while driving the vehicle was next to impossible for me.
Besides one had to learn how to synchronize the foot break and the accelerator with the gears, which was another big challenge, that often landed me in a muddle. The kick-start was another thing, which I found difficult getting used to. No amount of concentration and hard-work could help me bring it under my control, so, I almost gave it up thinking that this was one machine that I could never fathom and switched over to a moped, which was much lighter and easy to drive.
However, as time passed and I grew up, got married, had a family and settled down at my native place again. I started searching for a vehicle that could help me ferry my son to school and back home, besides helping me with my shopping and taking me on various excursions, a part of my job. Getting good mileage was a big question, while budget was another major concern. I started hunting for a vehicle that would suit are needs and seeing my hesitation towards a geared vehicle, all our attention was diverted to non-geared mopeds and scooties that cost a fortune that we could hardly afford.
“You should not opt for flashy two-wheelers, they are easy only on the eyes, but weigh a lot on the pocket, take my advice and buy a scooter. You will never regret it,” opined my uncle. ‘Buy a scooter!!!!’, I recoiled in horror at the thought. “Uncle have you forgotten what happened when you tried to teach me how to ride your’s,” I said, but he only smiled back and reminded me that now I was a full-grown adult, who could easily handle the machine. So with my mother’s consensus, who has great faith in my ability to learn and master things, my uncle and I rode that trusty old Bajaj Chetak to the same showroom from where my uncle had purchased his wheels twenty years ago.
And there it was my light lemony two-wheeler, parked on a podium, waiting to be purchased. I felt an affinity develop within as I fingered it. The feeling was quite contrary to what I had experienced twenty years ago and was much more pleasant. Almost an hour later we drove home with my new wheels. My uncle asked me to take control as soon as we entered our premises, giving me the same directions that he had when he was trying to teach me how to drive his scooter, two decades ago.
The difference this time was that being mentally and physically more mature than my childhood days I was able to understand and maneuver it well. There was a round of applause by my family members as I successfully completed the first round of our premises on the scooter. Now driving one did not seem as hard as it had once seemed. My scooter and I became pals as we spent most of our time together everyday, going different places and doing things together including dropping and picking my son from school and many more jobs.
As for the machine that my uncle owned, it retired after serving my uncle faithfully all these years and was handed over in a good working condition to one of his pals, who desired to have it. Now it is my Bajaj Chetak that has taken its place at home and I am proud to say that I own it.