I had learnt cycling quite young and could be frequently seen cycling like a maniac to the grocery store 2 crossings away to get stuff for my mom. To my dismay though I had to wait till I was in 6th grade to start going to school on cycle, I had to manage in the auto with the auto uncle (frankly I detested going to school in an auto, too many children and not enough space to even sit properly, not to mention the hierarchy of the grades!).
Finally the day dawned lovely and clear, it was my first day of 6th grade and I was going to school on cycle all by myself!!(Of course the fact that the cycle in question was my cousin’s hand me down and already getting a little small for me was not even registered by me!!).Off I went zooming on the road, my legs pumping the pedals were full of energy and soon I could see the gates our hallowed school. Suddenly the front wheel went off the road onto the side and I tried to get back on the road.
I found myself flat on the road, I had actually maybe for the first time ever fallen from my cycle! So thus ended my first day of going to school on a cycle by visiting the infirmary and getting the dressing done.
This was by no means the last day though, I continued to go to school on cycle (even in a city like Chennai and on the main roads there). I had many more adventures, I used to go alone and sometimes with my group of friends, all of us girls chattering like magpies and cycling along. I don’t think that it is possible any more to cycle in groups of five or more and occupy the full road. In fact I don’t think it is anyway possible to cycle to school anymore, all the students now have scootys. I wonder though if they get the same thrill that I used to get when I used to cycle back home and time myself ( I have actually done it in 7 minutes!) or the sense of camaderie when one of girl’s cycle chain needed fixed and all of us would get our hands greasy and dirty(not to mention the scolding from mother for getting grease on the white uniform). The soaking in rain during monsoon when the downpour used to make raincoats redundant and there would be water in the shoes too! The wait for other people to come and pick up their cycles as they have fallen in stack and yours is of course the one at the bottom. The burn in the legs when you are pedaling furiously as you are running late for school and of course the power of scheduling when 5 girls could meet at a pre-decided time at a pre- appointed place and no mobile phones to coordinate the whole thing!
Ah the power of reminiscing, I can still feel the wind whistle in my ears as I pedal down the roads of Dalanwala!
p.s. in all my years of cycling to school my most detestable days were when I had to go with my sisters…..they were never ,ever on time!