BOYS 14 INCH BIKE. INCH BIKE
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Boys 14 Inch Bike
Village Transportation - Lothal
"I must ride that. I MUST ride that", said the boy in me, jumping up down. I had just seen a bike trailer for the first time.
I was standing on the junction of a highway and the road to Lothal. A sign at the junction said, "Lothal: Ancient historic Harrapan City - 7 Km"
The bike trailers were parked in the shade of enormous bushes. Somehow the bike trailer reminded me of a centaur. The forward half was an Enfield bullet, while the rear was the wide back of a small truck. Even the wheels followed the halves. The bike section had a single spoked wheel while the rear had a pair of solid metal wheels with tempo tires. It was garishly decorated with a blue paint job with a plethora of designs spreading over like encroaching creepers.
Not seeing other forms of transport nearby, I guessed that I would have to take the bike trailer. The owners of the trailers were clustered together at a corner, chatting and smoking beedis.
"Bhaiya", I asked in my butchered Hindi to one who looked like the leader, "How do I go to Lothal?"
"LoTHaLLL?", he asked emphasizing on the syllables, "Nobody goes to LoTHaLL from here"
"I want to go", I said feeling a bit frustrated, "How do I go to Lothal?"
"I'll take you to Lothal", said another.
I didn't like the look of him. He was stout and his head was wrapped in a thick faded muffler. Through the muffler I could only see a pair of pock marked cheeks, large Polaroid tinted glasses and a moustache.
"How much?", I asked.
"You come first", he said, making a stride towards his trailer
"How much?", I asked again, not budging an inch
"Rs 150", he said
"%&^^$^$", I said mentally
"That's too much", I told him "And you know it"
"Rs 150 return", he clarified, "And I will have to wait for you there"
I thawed a bit. Now it didn't seem exorbitant. But 150 for a 14 km ride in village transportation still seemed a bit much.
"I'll give you Rs. 50"
"No", he said beginning to look uninterested "Rs. 150"
"I'll wait till your tempo fills up, then we can distribute the cost", I said
"Nobody goes to Lothal", he said
"But there must be people who want to go the villages along the way"
"There is nothing between here and Lothal"
After 10 minutes of bargaining, I didn't make any progress. The tempo wallah stuck stubbornly to his price.
I even contemplated walking. But a 14 km walk to save Rs. 150 was not worth it.
"Ok" I said. He had won
"Come. Let's go." He said cheerfully.
"I am going to take several hours over there. You will have to wait"
"No. I can't wait for 2 hours, I will wait for an hour max"
I cursed him mentally again and resolved that I would take my time and not be rushed about.
He wrapped a piece of rope around a fly wheel on the engine and pulled away, hard. The motorcycle engine seemed to be waking up after a deep slumber. It coughed and shook, emitting small puffs of black smoke. Smelling the exhaust, I knew that it ran on diesel. The engine was now roaring and the whole bike trailer was shaking vigorously.
Without enough people to damp the vibration, the ride for me was far from comfortable. I sat on the wood lined edge of the trailer with every bone in my body being rattled. I knew that that for the next few nights I would be sleeping on my belly.
There were few people on the road. A bus full of Japanese tourists passed us. The sight of a bike trailer was a novelty for them. Before I knew it, I had 20 cameras pointed at me, clicking. Feeling very self conscious, I assumed the “I-am-not-aware-that-I'm-being-photographed" pose.
Like the driver said there was nothing from the highway junction to Lothal and my visit lasted less than hour. After visiting the museum and the excavated mounds, I returned to the trailer.
The 7 km back to the highway junction passed off uneventfully. Before I could get off, villagers waiting at the junction began to climb into trailer. It soon set off leaving me alone at the junction, waving at passing buses to stop.
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