As a kid I was jealous of my brother, my cousin, and all my friends (who knew how to ride a bicycle). I didn’t know how to ride a bike until I was thirteen or fourteen I think. My mom was too scared to allow me to ride a bicycle. I’d lie to mom and go trying to ride a bike instead of playing. I can’t remember anyone helping me how to ride. I somehow learnt by borrowing/renting bicycles on my own. We could rent bicycles from cycle shops for one or two rupees for an hour and as soon as I collected enough money, I’d run the cycle shops, rent a bike. It was indeed liberating to just bike away and explore the part of the villages that I had never seen before.
My dad gifted me a bicycle when I passed SSLC exam. I still remember going with him to the bicycle shop, picking up a bike and riding it back home. I was happy that I got a bicycle more than I was happy that I cleared the exam! It was a brown Hercules MTB for around 1,700 rupees - no gears, just the basic bicycle.
It became my primary mode of transportation during pre-university college, early morning tuitions, and countless small trips around the town. It was my darling. I modified it by adding 4 or 5 gears, cut down the handle length, threw away the mud guards and rear carrier, changed the tires (I can’t believe I added a short diameter front wheel for a while - bad decision!), and the last but most famous modification was by wrapping black solution tape around spokes to make it look like 3 plastic spokes per wheel. That look was very cool and it was copied by many kids within a few days. I was so proud!
I never wanted to sell it, but once I started working and moved out of Bangalore it started rusting. I kept it for another three years or so before mom convinced me to sell it. I decided I’d rather have someone ride it than let it rust. One fine day it was sold.
I still miss my first bicycle - a gift from my dad. I wish I had at least one picture of it to post here. Every time I think of that bicycle, it reminds me that my dad kept his promise; it reminds me how happy it made me. More than anything it makes me proud of my parents who provided us what they didn’t get themselves. They gave us the best they could afford and I’m so grateful for everything they have done!