Point to Point Travel !

From a corner of the eye, the red looming bus with its booming sound and vrooming smoke , coming to a grinding halt was clearly visible.

Immediate clamour ensued. A small door opened. A smattering village got out. And another got in. They were all headed towards some place else. Out off Mumbai.And this was the scene. At a busy intersection on the highway that was to be taken to reach Pune.

The heat was real. And so were the crowds. Public transportation was not something to write home about. But it got people from point to point. That was public transport right ? Getting the public from point to point ?!

In a few moments, a Toyota Innova passed by. And stopped some distance away from the bus stop. A whole bunch of people rushed in and surrounded the Innova. Commotion ensued.

And in a small while a whole village launched themselves into the Innova. It took all of Japanese engineering & Indian ingenuity to take the village away rolling on the road. Off they went. One happy party.

Taxis that must have dropped off people in Mumbai and heading back to wherever they came from. And whatever money that the driver made was extra! For the return trip would have been paid for.

The rest of the crowd was restive. And then came a lorry. The driver slowed down. And yes. You guess it right. There was another village which rushed. Some haggling. Some loud gesturing.

And then, there were people jumping on to the lorry. And in some time, off they went. One happy party.

And all of the remaining were restive. Muttering and hurling abuses at the bus driver, the steaming sun. The stars. And their alignments. The neighbourhood astrologer. The Arab Sheik and George Bush.

And then, out of the smoke and noise, came a young man. On a horse. No kidding. No cart. No spare saddle. Nothing. Just him. His horse. And that red ornamentation. And number 76 written on his black T-shirt.

Astride on his high perch, he looked at the by standers who were awaiting the next red bus. The Innova. Or the lorry. A glint of a gleeful smile escaped his lips. A smile befitting Alexander the Great entering a conquered land appeared on his face. He pursed his lips and paused for a while.

And then sped away. As quickly as he had arrived. The hooves kicking up left over sand from the sides of a tar road. And as newly kicked up dust settled in the deepest recesses of gaping mouths, he was long gone.

And in that ten minutes people had moved on. The entire point was to move from point to point. And stay moving. Buses. Lorries. Cars. Whatever.

But, suddenly horses seemed to be a energy saving alternative to a Humvee !

Parking was a different problem though !

The Original Convertible !

Some of us are born with heavenly blessings. I read about Jawaharlal Nehru going to college in swank luxury. But then, he didn’t go to school in a convertible. Well, what is a convertible ? ( Wikipedia defines...“A convertible is a type of automobile in which the roof can retract and fold away, converting it from an enclosed to an open-air vehicle”. )

An original convertible. How many of you have gone to school in one? My chest swells many inches. For i have !

In convertible like this.

The cycle – rickshaw as it is called it is a simple contraption of some metal framework at the base, a good hard seat with some cushion topping, a pedal, a chain that hauls, a cycle bell (that has been replaced by a circus hooter these days), a sheet of hybrid material for the roof. With a peep window at the rear !

Now, throw in some good calf muscles and some resounding attitude : That is a guarantee of a good ride !

For a few years, we went to school in one. And then, the school buses made an appearance and we graduated to motor transport. Arumugam, our rickshaw man was one heck of a puny man with bones all over the the body ! Except his calf. In his calf, he had SOME muscles !

I haven’t been in a rickshaw for a long time now. There is a discomfort in the mind, to sit on the energy and physical effort of another man. That apart, wonder at this contraption of sorts hasn’t ceased !

Of all the parts in the rickshaw, the most important was the seat ! That completely removable seat ! The rickshaw pullers used to guard it with all their lives. Creditors, policemen, rivals all used to take / steal the seat away when there was some issue at hand !

The hood will come down at times, when us children would pester to get a feel of the open air and sunlight ! Those were carefree days ! And we suddenly would feel like tourists of some sort. To go in an open rickshaw !

I saw rickshaws again. Last week. They still seem to be doing the rounds. And pretty well too. And here is the artistic part to the rickshaw. The rear still gives way for some form of art. A painting. An inscription. Something like that. Hold your breath : No product advertising !

On this Rikshaw there is Karunanidhi, Muthuramalinga Thevar and Rajinikant. The first man is the chief minister. So. Muthuramalinga Thevar is quite famous too.

And then, there is Rajinikant. Well, what is Tamil Nadu without him !!!!

I seek to draw your attention to the ‘ears’ of the rickshaw. Those artistic shapes ( in blue here) protruding on to the sides. Well, that’s where my school bags, with all their loads of books, report cards used to hang. On the way, to and from school.

My educational foundations always hung in the balance drawing in all the air !! (Now you know me….!)

Many years later when i went to a another school and discussions used to surface about convertibles & wealthy classmates used to state that owning a fancy convertible was their ultimate dream.

It was there that i wondered, what all the fuzz was about. After all, i went to junior school in one !