Welcome to another post of the Friday Loose Bloggers’ Consortium when eleven of us post on the same topic chosen by one of us. Today’s topic has been chosen by Gaelikaa, who must be pleased as punch with the fix that she has put me in. Please do visit Ashok, Conrad, Grannymar, Magpie11, Maria, Gaelikaa, Helen, Judy, Anu and Ginger to see ten other views on the same topic. Some of these bloggers may be preoccupied with examinations, family problems and/or romance, so be a little indulgent in case they do not post or post late.
The topic has been chosen by my Rakhi Sister Gaelikaa about who I am still learning and I eagerly look forward to what wild things she was up to in her youth. In my case, to rank one as the wildest thing I ever did in my youth would be an impossibility. There were so many!
The first one that readily comes to mind is the time that I almost lost my life. I was just about 13 starting my terrible teens, when we went on a mid sea picnic on a catamaran. For my Western readers, the catamaran that I am talking about is the original. Simply a few logs tied together. In Tamil, it is kattu for tied and maram for logs. Even today, it is used by Indian fishermen for inshore fishing with a single sail. This is what catamarans here look like.
Our family had some salt pans along the Tamil Nadu coast and our Patriarch was quite friendly with the fisherfolk of that area. He organized the mid sea picnic for us and we set out on two catamarans for a few hours of unusual outing. We had a mid sea lunch from packed food that we had taken and all in all it was an exciting and interesting experience. We were sitting in water and none of us were dry throughout the voyage.
On our return, as we neared the landing point, about 200mts from the shore, the older boys, who had had a lot of experience swimming in the sea in that area, dived off the catamarans and started to swim towards the shore. I was a reasonably good swimmer but my experience was restricted to swimming in swimming pools and just bathing in the sea. Seeing the older cousins swimming as though they were just in a swimming pool, I too dived off and found that I was being pulled in all kinds of directions by the waves and the tide. I also lost sight of the shore in the waves and started to panic. I could vaguely hear the girls in our catamaran screaming and before I could drown, I was held up from the back by a fisherman who calmed me down and told me not to panic and he gently swam me back to the catamaran. That I am around 55 years later to write about it is due entirely to that anonymous fisherman, who was rewarded by my uncle. The same uncle rewarded me with some not so affectionate clouts to my ears out of relief that I did not drown.
From the time I was old enough to get driving license, I have had some sort of vehicle or the other either owned by me or available for my exclusive use. I started off with motorcycles and scooters and the first one that I owned was an LD model Lambretta scooter.
MIne was white and black and was promptly named by me as “My Love – Chiquita” written on the inside panel. Here is another photo of me on my scooter with a great friend of mine Partap Singh on his Red Indian motorcycle.
We were a bunch of wild Hyderabadi young men with plenty of hard earned money in our pockets with a passion was motor cycle racing. Mind you, I am talking about the years 1961 and 1962 when no one wore helmets and you could count the number of scooters and motorcylces on the city roads in your two hands. Partap was and to the best of my knowledge continues to be an amazing mechanic who could tune and hot rod two wheelers into performing like jet planes. We would buy, refurbish and sell for profit motorcycles for a side business and while waiting for sucker buyers, race on week ends at an abandoned second world war airstrip out of town.
We raced Norton, Triumphs, BSAs, Indians, Harley Davidsons, BMWs AJSs, Royal Enfields and souped up Lambretta scooters. Who do you reckon was the fastest? It is a no brainer. I would simply, quickly get into top gear, open the throttle to the fullest and sit. I have had a few falls and it is again divine intervention that I am alive today to write about those wild days.
The next wild and perhaps the most dangerous of all that I had experienced till then was the next episode. Fate made me relocate to Chennai, then known as Madras in late 1962. I had my younger brother Arvind living there, also with his own Lambretta scooter. He was more sedate and would not race for fun or money but was game for some stunts. Since the scooter was meant for mounting from the front, the two of us decided to see if we could change our status from rider to pillion rider while the scooter was being driven and we succeeded. The few moments when both of us would be on either side of the scooter, one moving forward to sit and drive and the other to move from the driver’s seat to the pillion, were the highest adrenalin pumping experiences I have ever had. Mind you, this had to be done on a fairly busy main road, mostly on the road running parallel to the sea shore where the road was wide enough for such stunts.
There were many other wild things which I have done in my youth and given an opportunity, would do again. A sample on water and a few on land given here, but alas,nothing in the air! Regrets? No, not any.