Saturday, October 25, 2014

Stunning beauties and Riders of Royal Enfield

Stunning beauties and riders of Royal Enfield
I was not very happy when, sometime around seventies, automobile company, Royal Enfield, changed its name to Enfield. I have always been and still am a die-hard fan of the Royal Enfield motorcycles, popularly known as 'Bullet'. There was a time, during my college days, when there was no thrill more pulsating than to ride this "man machine" on roads running through the vast open and verdant landscape of the Punjab countryside, the deep, resonant boom of this marvellous machine giving one the feel of absolute power..
I got my first Bullet, a gift from my elder brother, Dev Veerji, (Gurdev Singh Bains) He had promised to buy me one if I passed my graduation. i did so with eyes shut, but the promised gift was delayed by two years as I committed the blunder of boasting that i wanted to get my Masters in English, and brother insisted that "students" should not ride a Bullet. But he said he would buy me a brand new machine the day my result for the Masters would be announced and I got through. He was as good as his word when finally I cleared my M.A. in English from Government College Hoshiarpur. It was a black and handsome Bullet which I was given the pleasure to drive myself to my first day as a teacher at the Khalsa College, Garshankar. I have never ever felt more powerful than I did that day as I felt the sonorous boom of the Enfield merge with my pulse echoing deep in my chest. Every pore of my body reverberated to the mighty vibration of the machine.
But there is a reason why young men want to look handsome, macho and full of power. Bullet has always symbolised all three .
When I was in college, there was this disturbingly beautiful girl whom I loved but who always gave me a royal ignore. I had once heard her talking to one of her girl friends how much she loved to see men riding a horse or an Enfield. So, the first "round" on Bullet had to be around my erstwhile college where she was still studying. i remember she was in her music class as I entered the college, feeling like a knight at arms. The entry of vehicles was prohibited on the college premises but the Bullet and its rider were intoxicated that rainy day.Soon i stood before the girl, drenched to my skin and the gas "tankie" of my debonair 
new companion had beads of sparkling clear water running down on both sides.
"Mine," I said, patting the motorcycle's seat, and then looked, distinct pride in my eyes, at her for response.
"I hate people who like to show off," was all she would say before she walked proudly away, books held stylishly in one arm, her posture regal and elegant.
I kept standing there for about half an hour after she was gone, and then kick started the mobike and turned it on one leg, like boys love to do. I was about to march towards the gate, when I heard a female voice calling me out. I turned and saw the girl . She was walking towards me with unhurried, elegance, clearly conscious of the divine beauty that sang out from every movement she made.
"Can you drive well?," she asked.
"I have been driving since my school days," and that was a brazen lie, and she knew it straightaway.But she said:
"Never mind, I will take a chance with you. Can you drop me home?" in those days,this was as bold as a girl - especially a girl as beautiful as she was - could get.
Time flew cruelly fast that afternoon even though I drove as slow as I could. All i can remember of that drive is a question ," Who gave it to you?" Refusing to let that puncture my typical Punjabi lad's pride, I said, "What do you mean who gave it me? I got it through a bank loan?" And that was another outrageous lie, and the loud laughter that greeted my words then make me suspect today that she probably saw through this lie too.
The only helpful sign was a smile - a most beautiful smile - that she gave me as she prepared to move away after i had dropped her - a few a paces ahead of her home, as directed by her.
There is something about beautiful girls that makes men forget their narrative, even if the subject is as handsome as a Royal Enfield.
But to return to the Bullet story, Royal Enfield is a motorcycle with a history.It was originally produced by a company named Enfield Cycle Company which made motorcycles, bicycles, lawnmowers and stationary engines.It also manufactured weapons at some point, and this legacy is reflected in the logo - a cannon. The motto of the motorcycle - "Made like a gun, goes like a bullet" is also a hangover of that legacy.
As per history, use of the brand name Royal Enfield was licensed by the Crown in 1890. The original Redditch, Worcestershire based company was sold to Norton-Villiers-Triumph (NVT) in 1968.The Royal Enfield produced bicycles at its Redditch factory until it closed in early 1967. Its last last new bicycle was called 'Revelation', a small wheeler released in 1965.The darling Royal Enfield Motorcycles went out of production in 1970 and the company was dissolved in 1971.
But Enfield of India had started assembling Bullet motorcycles components In 1956 under licence from the UK , and by 1962 it was manufacturing complete bikes.
The use of the name, Royal Enfield, was bought by Enfield India in 1995.Based in Tiruvottiyur, Chennai, Royal Enfield is now the oldest motorcycle brand in the world still in production with the Bullet model enjoying the longest motorcycle production run of all time.In May 2013 a new assembly facility was started at Oragadam, Chennai.
In 1973, accompanied by my school teacher and life long friend, Iqbal Vant (Masterji) of Mahilpur, I drove from the Baring Union Christian College Batala, to the Library Club in Missourie, non-stop, halting only for two re-fills on the way.It started raining near Saharanpur and by the time we reached Missourie, it felt really cold. As I stopped, i could barely hold the weight of the motorcycle as my legs had gone numb from cold and the long drive. I was held in balance by two bystanders, before I finally dismounted, shivering badly.
It kept raining for the next two days we were there, staying in a hotel whose name I have forgotten. We spent the days watching low hung clouds pouring down on us as we loved to walk the roads and the hills, flakes of snowy clouds alternating with dark, thick bounces hugging us as we walked.
It was Diwali the third afternoon and I wanted to spend it with my mother at Mahilpur. Night caught us near Dehradun on the way back but we drove on and on . There were no cell phones days and even landlines were scarce. There was no way I could inform mother how we were placed, but when we finally reached Mahilpur around midnight, she was still waiting. Instinct had told her that her son was on the way .
The next morning, I started for an early morning class at Batala. I halted at a friend's place in Chabbewal who informed that it was a holiday in college. So I decided to have a "round" of the place where I had once dropped that most beautiful girl from my college . As I reached there, I parked the Bullet right in front of her house, pretending an engine snag. To my surprise, a most gracious, charming figure, fresh as a morning lily, walked out of that door. I pretended to look away, but could sense from the corners of my eyes that the beautiful figure kept walking towards me. She walked slowly, gracefully, regally - as ever. Soon , she stood near the motor cycle, and just stood there, silent, arms folded in that self-consciously attractive way.
"kis traaN ho ( How are you)", I said after a while.
"I am fine. How about you.?"
Then there was a silence before it was broken by some of the sweetest words I have ever heard in life.
" Its good you have come. I have been feeling bad since that day - when I said nasty things about you showing off about your motorbike. Actually, I love these motor cycles....and ..."
"And...." I ventured. " you you?" I said, standing there foolishly - not knowing what to say.
" And .....yes. I am sorry. But........but...I miss you. Please a jaaya karo. I am sorry I hurt you that day. You are so ..."She made me feel comfortable as she said,
And then, she was silent. But she still stood there. I looked around and seeing that no one was directly watching us, I held her forefingers gently in my hand and said, " I love you."
Her eye lids fluttered nervously, her bold self confidence appearing to crumble - looking coy and modest. This made her look even more charming than she had always done.
Now when I see these boys riding their Bullets proudly,my chest swells with a special feeling..
Is someone missing him too is what I think when I look at any one of the riders of the Royal Enfield.

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