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A bicycling lesson

It was 1939 during the Second World War. My early visit to Karamana in Thiruvnananthapuram was when I was about six. I am now 87. Well, why do I go back so many years? Those days are important in my life when I was taught cycling by my cousins. Do not ask me if they knew cycling. I came to know later that they had never tried to ride a bike but they were trying to teach me. For them, I was an available scapegoat as I had gone there from Madras, a city!

Well, they arranged for a bike. I was very excited to see the machine under my control. Did I tell you how old my cousins were? The older one was eight or nine and the younger was four. Now all was set for my cycling lessons.

The Karamana road in those days was full of mud and deep pits along its length and filled with dirty water. I was not aware of the danger ahead. My only thought then was my cycle ride down the road ahead of me. Yes, the road may be going to the Arabian Sea about six miles away. I was anticipating a smooth ride to the beach.

My cousins helped me to the seat and I found out that my feet were high above the pedals. Once I was on the seat, they pushed the bike but I was hanging precariously without knowing how to stop the bike! I tried to turn to call my cousins for help. Within seconds, I was in the ditch with the bike lying on my body! Where were my dear cousins? They had done their job of teaching me cycling. I was helped out by a woman whom I had knocked into the ditch and she was yelling and shouting at me and calling out for help. Hearing the ruckus, my grandfather came out and helped me and the crowd melted away. My cousins meanwhile came back and congratulated themselves for not only teaching me cycling but also managing the crowd. That cycling lesson — if you can call it a lesson — possibly helped me when I was 15 and had my own bicycle.

hemram1229@gmail.com

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Printable version | Mar 5, 2021 12:59:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/a-bicycling-lesson/article33536856.ece

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