Thursday, August 6, 2009

Entwined Journeys...


It was 1986 and I had a new red BSA SLR. Those days we lived in Baroda, Gujarat. School was a half an hour ride from home and cycling to school was the most common thing. Half way to school on my bike that first day, I saw a class mate of mine riding a few meters ahead of me, looking for company, I pedaled faster and drew up to her.

Me : "Hi, do you cycle to school everyday?"

She : "Hi! yes its almost a year now. Haven't seen you on this road before, new bike?"

Me: "Yes, new, staring today, earlier it used to be the school bus, where do you live?"

She: "Karelibaug, and you?"

Me: "Me too, well we can do this everyday together then, let's fix up a time and start together, it's a long ride"

She: "Sure, I would love to."

Till then we were just class mates who bumped into each other every now and then. Ever since that day our journeys have entwined for life. We were both 13 that day, and we are on the wrong side of 30 now. The rides to school and back were innocuous compared to the roller coasters life has thrown at us.. but we have stayed abreast and together, side by side through all the ups and downs.

Another morning in the same year(1986):

Me: "Have you noticed the Nepali watchman in the EME complex? He's cute."

She: "He's old Sujata!! What cute?"

Me: "Of course he's old, I mean he looks kind and he seems to be waiting for us to ride by, I have been smiling at him for the past day or two, and he returns it"

She : "I have not noticed that, will see today"

As we near the EME gates, I wave to the watchman, who as usual was waiting for us to pass by, he smiles and waves at us.

Me: "Saw?, isn't he a kind looking fellow?"

She: "Yah looks kind, maybe he has children back home you know, they leave the families and come for work here, maybe we remind him of his daughters.."

Me: "Yah.. maybe..alright lets race to the end of this road okay? who ever loses will pay for the canteen!"

And we raced. Each day we smiled and waved at the watchman and he returned our gestures!

Till the day he came behind us on his bike and it didn't look right at all, The memory of this incident is vague now, but the fear that we both felt at him rushing behind us on a black cycle, waving and making gestures that were not at all cute, cannot be driven away from our conscious even today. Breathless and hovering at the highest speed possible, we kept going, not exactly knowing why? Not even having the time or breath to discuss the sudden incident , we just knew things were not right, and we also knew we had been stupid. What scared us that day, I don't know, it seems silly in hindsight, but we had felt petrified then. He never followed us again.

Journeys are made real by memories and our ride to school each day has innumerable such memories. These long past treasures regale both of us even today.

She lives in New York now, has three kids, a lovely job and a great husband. We start our days with mails to each other, we chat whenever time permits, we sigh, we groan, we still play mischief, we laugh, we joke and we bitch. We can share with each other what we can't with any body else. We carry on biking the bumpy roads together. From sharing chocolates and crushes to sharing the ravages of gravity on our bodies..we have come a long way!

Rupal, this one is for us!

56 comments:

Kishore Choudhary said...

Sujata ji, mere paas bhi 1985 me BSA SLR Champ thi kya baat hai aur post ne mujhe kuchh kahaniyan yaad dila di hain.

The Survivor said...

Its good to know someone for such a long time and stay in touch

Aparna said...

You found the watchman cute? What can I say...you always showed such excellent taste in men. (Present man excluded)

Aparna said...

And why are you looking so guilty in the photograph?Or were you making naughty eyes at someone?

Rupal said...

Hey!. I dont know what to say?. You left me completely speechless, which is as you know quite impossible for someone like me ;-)

Thank you for bringing me back to those days, thank heaven for those memories or else life would be soo incomplete. Thank you for always being there for me. Love you Sujata.

Rush said...

awesome post!! reliving ur childhood days!
i especially liked the part when u talk abt the race and whoever loses pays!!lol..smartyass

Nona said...

:) BSA SLR used to come in two versions! The boy's one had a metal bar connecting the seat and the handle. BSA SLR was the only sleek cycle available!

Nice picture! The grown up pictures are on your site already. But now, we get to see your pictures at an younger age!

eye-in-sty-in said...

Good choice! BSA was THE bike to own in these days :P
Btw, I too have fond memories of Baroda... Have some relatives there and spent some good vacation time there... Its nice to know ur still in touch with ur school pal.

zillionbig said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ZB said...

nostalgic trip. I remember BSA SLR, and then Hero Ranger. My dad got me a ranger, blue one with gears when i was in 8th STD.

BTW, You look Cute in the photograph. :))

Gayathri said...

omg..the watchman was cute??hahaha..just like how i used to feel,and get accolades,or rather reproach for weird sense of beauty.. :D

Nazish Rahman said...

lol...one thing is for sure that he never smiled because u reminded him of his daughter. Lucky that your still in touch with your childhood friend.

Sakshi said...

I had a cycle which I hated because it was so girly girly with colourful strings of god knows what flowing from both handles. But I had fun riding (read stealing) cycles of all my cousins. Your post revived all the cycle memories of my childhood days. What fun, now I have to ride a cycle in the name of exercising my internet induced still legs :(

Thanks for your comment at my blog and am hoping I am familiar to you for all the good reasons in Blog land? Gulp! Blog rolled you too

Sakshi said...

Btw It's a pleasure staying put on your blog because of all the wonderful songs playing. I am using it as my All India Radio now :)

SJ said...

I wanted to ask which of those girls in that photo is you. But Aparna answered my question- the girl making naughty eyes hahahahhahaaa...

Such a cute post. Some incidents can never be forgotten no?

Hopeless Romantic said...

we all move on in life, make new relations but sometimes we realize certain relations live forever, the warmth and the love never fades away!

Made me nostalgic a bit...keep penning!

Amit

unsungpsalm said...

Oh geez, the watchman incident sounds scary! Glad you guys got away safely!

For a moment, I was expecting an anti-climax... like he was chasing you to tell you that a notebook had fallen out of your bag, or that you had a needle in your tire or something :S

Kavi said...

Awesome. There was candour, love, life and a certain past that resided so well in that post.

Its not so difficult to step back into the past and retrieve a jar of memories. And you did it so very well.

And there are certain friendships that endure. Which make all the difference. Am glad that you were able to find it.

I had a black BSA SLR ! And i remember pedling away to school. And college too. Life was like that !!

This post brought back so many memories.

Meira said...

wrong side of thirty ahaan?:P
three cheers to friendship:)

kavita said...

You are very lucky to have each other as friends....about watchman..you are not the only one here in our case it was a soldier from army ,always on duty near" sahid jyoti"..hmmm..that old picture is very nice....great post as always....

Jyothi said...

Hmmm....Cute picture.I need access to a scanner please....Friends are such a treasure.

I learnt to cycle in the parking lot next to my building.My Dad was helping me. I think I was 9 or 10 then.It was almost dark. I took a round of the lot on my own leaving my dad on one end.Two teenage boys ended up taking rounds of me on their cycles. That was the last time I cycled.:-(

Don't laugh....I lived in Dubai. We were not allowed to cycle to School. :-)

♥ Braja said...

That was wonderful Sujata....

Gymnast said...

That's wonderful Sujata! Its been less than six years since i passed out of school and the number of school friends i am really in touch with comes to , maybe , five.

Its amazing how you manage to keep in touch with old friends even now.

As usual , written in your lyrical and beautiful way. Enjoyed it!

Gymnast said...

And what is with "wrong side of thirty" ? Trust me , you look just any of my classmates in your profile pic !

sujata said...

@Kishore thanks for dropping by, its been a while I have seen you here. BSA and Hero were the cycles of those days.

@Survivor yah it feels great to be as close as ever with her, I am in touch with most of my class mates from that time

@Aparna what can I say? You said it all argggggghhhhhh!!!

Hey Rupal love you too!!

@Rush now that you say it..I will add that Rupal was called the hotty pants and I was called the smartypants in school

@Nona I had a red girl's BSA SLr and my friend had the same in blue. WE looked like dorks then but thats ok..thats us

@Eye-in-sty-in I loved Baroda, studied at Navarchna throughout and my most cherished memories are from there. Good to know you visited Baroda often

@ZB thanks, all the cycle memories have been revived by this post I think..cute means ugly but tolerable did you know that?

sujata said...

@Gayathri Nepalis do look cute

@NR definitely lucky that entire EME stretch was an extremely lonely stretch and pretty long..thank god he was old and didnt catch up to us.

@Sakshi you are familiar for very good reasons, dont worry!! After a long time I biked away during my swiss trip and enjoyed it thoroughly, the exercising bikes frustrate me its like pedaling and not reaching anywhere!! Glad you like the music

@SJ maybe the hottest hunk was passing by when dad was taking that pic of us..what to do..had to look at him na..so the stupid dorky look on my face and rupal as you notice has missed the opportunity!!

@hopeless Romantic thanks memories are always fun to relive

@Unsungpsalm we had thought that too initially when he started rushing after us, but soon we got to see his gestures and realised oh oh oh..run!!

@Kavi thanks, it means a lot coming from you, am very lucky to have had great friends from my school days and am in touch with all of them, but Rupal was and will be always special

sujata said...

@Meira thanks

@Kavita..what a bout a post on that soldier haa???c'mon c'mon

@Jyothi I understand, here I cannot imagine my daughter biking abywhere leave alone to school. Dubai must have been the same

@Braja thanks, hope you are enjoying Thailand

@Gymnast I am in touch with most of my school friends, boys as well as girls, we chat regularly its such a pleasure to have that friendship going strong . Nothing beats the years of shared history. Rupal has always been special though. Your classmates?? itna bhi mat chadhao...I will fall with a thud and break my wrong side of 30 back!!

Nikki said...

Awesome! I was born that year! :) I had a shiny red bike but was not allowed to go beyond the building compound!

Sigh.. I am glad you friends are in touch!

anamika said...

Lucky you for still sharing such a great bond with each other...
but u finding watchman cute and claiming yourself to be at the wrong side of 30s really make this post hilarious.

toshali said...

wow!!mom

ZB said...

haha, **cute means ugly but tolerable did you know that?**-which Dictionary is that. Probably its a pirated edition.

merriam-webster Dictionary says its ** attractive or pretty especially in a childish, youthful, or delicate way** and i believe them. TC:))

Aw.S.M said...

has rupal read this? has rupal read this??

Yaar i nevva had a BSA :P...i did get a hercules in 8th std though..but it got stolen the same year...toh no cycles for me :(. Actually i only learnt how to ride in 7th std :P. Pls dont hold this against me.

And oye u dont seem 30 only re...u r like the pretty elder sis every guy likes having :)

And its simply brilliant that u guys still keep in touch and all..:)

luv
amith

Aw.S.M said...

oh toshali commented again....hey tosh :D :D

R. Ramesh said...

sujata ji very interesting post..memories are indeed sweet..u talked abt cycles..i cant forget the days when i used to pedal miles around in chennai..wah..those good old days..hey shucks..what i am talking as if i am old...

Santanu Sinha Chaudhuri said...

Lovely post Sujata. The best thing about it is you never tried to find out nor share with your readers WHY? When we talk about good writing, what is left unsaid is more important than what is said. Isn't it?

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Lovely, lovely post. I am a nostalgia-junkie and i just loved your bicycle-bonding memories.

And instead of the Nepali watchman, we had a tall 'kabuliwallah' to moon over.

BK Chowla said...

Wrong side?It is only in the mind.Writing and reading posts brings back old memories.I would like to see Rupal's reaction.

bluebird said...

hi sujatha,

its funny, aint it, that the events that trouble us the most are eventually the ones that we remember as funny anecdotes.. (of course, not always!!!)

sujata said...

@Nikki wow that was quite a happening year nahi?

@Anamika thanks

@ZB hahahah thanks for enlightening me..for me Konkona is cute and Juhi Chawla is pretty..

@Aw.S.M yah she has and her comment is right up there too..Pretty elder sis who spoils the brothers rotten I know exactly what you mean dear.. BUT I AM NO LIKE THAT!!

@Ramesh you are forever young sir..what with all the smiles you get from all nationalities!!

@Santanu da thanks a lot, We never gave it much thought once we got out of our fear, young days are so full of activity that the brain doesn't ponder over issues for long..its ready to move on. And very true, what is left unsaid holds much more values, I am still learning and am so happy to have you as a reader.

@Sucharita we must have been loony bins!!

@BKChowla hhaha yah wrong or right is always in the mind.Rupal's comment to this post is the 6th from the top.

@Bluebird, yes definitely infact i think I wrote this in response to a comment that came for this post. Its the disturbing memories that make good writing later!

Vijay Kumar Sappatti said...

the past is sometimes so memorable that choti choti baate hamen yaad rahti hai aur kisi ko yaad rakhna aur us se jude rahna bahut hi acchi baat hai ji .. aapko badhai ...

vijay

pls read my new poem "झील" on my poem blog " http://poemsofvijay.blogspot.com

Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

Yes, it’s a wonderful paean to friendship, but I’m more touched by the ‘cute man incident.’ I can’t help wondering how such incidents leave indelible marks in the psyche of a child, especially in this case, because you had mistaken him as someone missing his children at home and yet the gesture. How you might’ve coped with that? I can’t figure out. You have beautifully woven almost contradictory elements/emotions with finesse.

Suraj said...

I love cycling and your article reminds me of my journeys with my cousin, he was older to me and used to pedal it real fast to and i used to do my best to catch onto him.

Thanks for taking me to those golden days, today i have a good car but i still miss my cycle!

Pesto Sauce said...

Be careful when smiling at strangers

Shivi said...

Some journeys are indeed so much worth cherishing. and hey! even I was born that year! he he

Rajesh said...

Reminds me of my school days. We used got to school by city bus. We were together till we went to the college. We are still in touch with each other, even if we don't find much time to be together.

mathew said...

actually the name BSA SLR just took me back in time...i wonder if they make those cycles even now...and i love seeing old pics like the one in the post..;-)

and a truly nostagic post!

PURN!MA said...

:) your memories brought a smile to my face.

I guess our inane daily incidents do turn precious when you look at them a few yrs down the line.

and that u both keep in touch, over a long distance is indeed an inspiring tale for me. we fnds usually discuss *and dispise* having to lose contacts with each other considering the chronology of life!

Cheers. You rock! \m/

P.S. those snaps u put up behind the blog header are awesome

sujata said...

@Vijay Kumar Sappatti thank you

Suraj good to see you after quite a long time. Everybody has cycle memories isnt't it? You were lucky to have back waters with you too

@Arun Meethale Chirakal Yes Arun I was and continue to be stupid!!Thank heavens we came of safe from that incident.

@Pesto Sauce I will remember that

@Shivi that was a great year even for you!!

@Rajesh the friendships made in those days are the most deep I feel

@Mathew thank you, I have no idea weather the same ones are made even now, but cycling to school I dont think happens anymore.

@Purnima I told you..friends are never lost, they will stay with you wherever you go.

Phoenix said...

What a beautiful post! Reiterates to me... wherever you go in life, whatever you do, whatever you become.. some things remain forever! Such friendships are relations to cherish.. forever!

Sumandebray said...

unlike today's kids who travel in ac cars we too did a lot of cycling around....
Cute old nepali watchman turned villain ... probably you were right probably he did not get the benefit of doubt.
But better safe than sorry....

Indrani said...

Great post for a friendship day! Good friends are rare!

Oc said...

makes me remember my school days ..hmm

R. Ramesh said...

thankssss su....

Babli said...

I liked your post very much.Oh really that time BSA SLR and Hero Ranger was very popular.While reading your post I was thinking about my school days.

sujata said...

@Phoenix welcome to my space, its great to have you here. Some things are forever!!

@SumanDebRay Good to see you back, you were not to be seen for a quite some time,asha kori shob bhalo. Cycling like a lot of other stuff is becoming redundant.

@Indrani thanks

@OC welcome to my space, hope to see you again and your cakes just look out of this world!!

@Ramesh thanks

@Babli thanks

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

Whoa! How terrifying. You know what, I read this a few days ago and was just sure I commented. How weird. Anyway, times have changed so much. My hubby used to walk a LONG way to school each day when he was 6 or 7 years old. That's very rare these days. Ya just never know.

But oh how neat that you have such a dear friendship from all those years ago. My closest friend to day was someone I met when I was 11 years old. We were roommates in college, in each other's weddings, with each other's newborn babies, etc. I've made many other friends during my adulthood, but having such memories with a friend from my childhood are special.

Hugs!

~2Shaye