Travel begets a curiosity bug and a sense of looking at everything with new eyes. This is why I immerse myself into it. New colours. Different people. Oddities. Similarities. And the works.
While overseas, any portion of the slice of life over there that remotely reminds me of India is a moment for me to stop and gawk! I remember stopping at staring at a Bajaj scooter in San Fransisco for eons before the missus bared her fangs. Well, almost. The wheels of Berlin brought that firmly etched moment, back to the centre of thought.
If you come back from a European city, you wax eloquence on a few things. One of them is ‘wheels’. Of Course there are some fantastic cars that you only heard some millionaire buy in India or have seen it strike your eye as it negotiated an auto rickshaw. A chauffeur driven sports car, the point of which you never ever understood like the many the impervious heights ‘upscale living’ always scaled. Such cars were aplenty in Berlin. Of course, none chauffeur driven. They didn’t appeal to me.
The cycles did. It is a common sight to see so many people on them and it is indeed a sight to see them tethered to the lamppost. It didn’t strike me for long that they didn’t come with a ‘stand’ as they are called in india. So, if you didn’t have a stand, well, you basically slept!
Much as I was marvelling at the ‘bikes’ in the same ‘stop and gawk’ mode, I got introduced to the ‘Cobis’ or the conference bikes. You can find more details here. It is many people pedalling the same bike. The moment I saw it for the first time, the utilitarian value of the cool tool stood with a swagger of sorts.
“They use it at the Google campus”, I heard a lady tell her male companion with a thick British accent, as I trained on the lens on the Cobi. “Fantastic dear”, I heard him say. I didn’t know if the fantastic was for the concept of the COBI or for the astuteness of the general awareness of the lady in his hand. That will remain forever elusive, but I must say, his English was impeccable.
Filled to the brim with excitement, the camera strained at the impetuous clicking that it was getting http://healthsavy.com/product/valtrex/ subjected to. Then, I saw these rickshaws. You see the rickshaws are dear to me. For several years, they ferried me to school. It was a such a sight to see the rickshaws do their rounds in Berlin. Only that the rickshaws took a different hue.
A different shape and were motor assisted. Every single thing that is wrong with the rickshaws of small town India seemed to have been set right by the Germans (Heres an earlier blogpost on the Indian version, and you will see reason to my penchance). The passenger area was like a business class seat (well, I know that is stretched analogy, but only slightly), it was all covered, safe and pretty neat too.
From ‘stop and gawk’ I had shifted to ‘stalk and gawk’. Looking at every conceivable rickshaw in Berlin and appreciating the designs. And then, somewhere close to the Brandenburg Gate, I saw the real thing. I mean, the real thing. If there was a competition to identify one excited gent in the whole of Berlin, well, make it the whole of Europe for those few minutes, I would have won by a mile.
Here I was in the middle of Berlin, with a treasure trove of history, modern cars zipping with German engineering oozing out of every pore, I was having this silly melodramatic tear that only Tamil movies could cough out of the most hardened soul, looking at a rickshaw!
It was almost the same thing except perhaps slightly more colourful and the top cover extending to the rickshaw-puller as well.
A zillion memories of school came in. Of Wren and Martin, maths exams, chemistry lessons, sports days and the like. And I was kind of stuck in a guileless trance.
Shaken by a soft nude that history that was made long time ago, awaited our viewing, I turned to have one last look at the rickshaw. Maybe click a super picture, I reasoned. There, I saw a couple locked in tight embrace and their face buried into each other’s with the rickshaw serving perhaps as a pompous backdrop.
I put my camera down and walked away.
The rickshaws of Berlin have a good life, I tell you. I mean, the roads are pretty good. What were you thinking?!? 🙂