As I enter the narrow seating area, I choose a table with a cozy corner all to myself. I look up to the familiar thaatha and order my regular—chicken biryani. I wait in eager anticipation as I prepare myself to take in the ever-familiar aroma of the crisp, deep-fried chicken and the fragrant basmati. Soon enough, my order arrives and I jump up in wild excitement, inside my mind. I make sure my sleeve fold is firm as I look at it the way a child would look at an ice-cream cone.
It just seemed like now that I arrived here, a naive me taking in the sights. I remember attending my very first class – I had to choose which row to take – and I gladly chose the last. It only seems like now that all those evenings at the hostel flew by, one not too different from the other. I had a lot of time to myself – I wanted this, and I got it. Maybe a little too much. I had trouble fitting in – but I have a much clearer head now, or so I think. I’m suddenly taken aback by not getting to be in sweet ignorance anymore. Clichéd as it goes, I really needed this time on my own. More opinions, a better sense of belonging, and though I detest the engineering programme to date, college has been a melancholic, hormone-driven, bittersweet experience. I think I am done reminiscing now, and I’m out to live the hell out of the remaining few weeks here. For what they’ve been, the memories stand, but this can’t just be it. To more friggin’ experiences.
And it saddens me deeply,
That mine is the only perspective,
I’ll ever get to fully experience.
Back in my 11th grade, I found this new-found enthusiasm for revs. As I zipped along in the Access 125, the thrill and joy of riding somehow managed to compensate for the utterly boring coaching class (which I eventually stopped going to(duh!)). As I gunned the throttle and the engine purred in response, the vibes and the seeming grunt by the engine was nothing short of pure bliss to me. That split-second delay before the machine concurred and took flight was a moment to savour—like the anticipatory calm before the storm. Riding my scooter was an activity I immensely enjoyed, though I kept it to myself. Flash forward to third year of college, and something in me made me want a motorcycle.
After considerable debate, I went in for the 200 Duke. I wasn’t particularly a motorhead then. My scooter-racing days must be beyond me, I thought. I contemplated getting a no-nonsense, hassle-free, albeit short-on-frills ride. But heck, these motorcycles didn’t even match up to my beloved Access. They lacked one vital thing I looked for in my wheels—a generous dosage of pizzazz. I decided to try out a more chilled out vibe—tourers. Grossly underpowered, yet again. Highly unimpressive; all show, no go. It was the time of the Royal Enfields (still is, I believe). But the kid in me acknowledged that one needed a certain charm and character to own one of those heavyweights. That being ruled out, a friend of mine lent me his Duke one eventful day.
And I went all out – absolutely nuts. This was one cracker of a machine, I thought. I wondered about my suppressed demeanour and my (by-then) general apathy towards speeding machines. Was this my deal? Wasn’t I more of a composed rider? (yes, times change) After a fair deal of deliberation and convincing myself, I settled in on the Duke. It had the style. It had the oomph. I won’t be 20 again, I thought.
Those soulless petrol-burners could wait. This was my time. And so it arrived, glorious in its racy white and flaring orange melange—a ravishing beauty. Yep, a looker all right. I took time to feel it out, understand its ever-ready nature, smooth out its flamboyancy. Not bad, I thought. This time though, Coimbatore roads and urban traffic. Huh. I stumbled a little. Nothing like a little time with it, I reassured myself. I looked at the ‘soulless petrol-burners’ and thought to myself whether I really had made the right choice. I didn’t overspeed. Heck, no. The lack of ABS had thought me a nasty lesson in scraped skin already. I was constantly wary of the front wheel locking up and the vehicle giving in. I grew to regret my decision. It was only recently when I was reading that I realized that I hadn’t factored in one major factor – said pizzazz. And then I started feeling it. I started falling in love with the engine’s stop-me-if-you-can appeal. I started appreciating the ultra-responsive throttle. I just had to be careful around sand, I realized, and I was good. And now, with every minute thrust of my hand, as the familiar (although more accentuated) vibes creep up my bones, I feel just that bit more alive. As the purrs transition into growls, as the exuberance hits me right at my delirious self, I cannot help but grin.
The hustle bustle. The almost-perfect filter coffee. The scores of activity. The energy of youth. The occasional pretty girl. The constant chitter chatter. The fluffy idlies and the crunchy vadais. The silent contemplation. The sweet killing of time. And now, the bittersweet realization that this would all be gone in a few months’ time. I sure am going to miss my college canteen.
An idea. A motif. An identity. A brand.
A burning desire to go all the way.
A relentless passion.
Is it all it takes?
New Year’s Eve. Cheer and merry everywhere. Popular music. Fancy lights. Parties till the wee hours of the morning. Strangers wishing you a happy new year. A feeling of unity. A sense of wild passion.
If only we could have at least half of the goodwill and the positive energy every single day of the year, what a life it would be.