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The ‘lamby’ that wouldn’t stop

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images  

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It took some time for her to master the art of stopping what she had started

In the early 1970s, Bangalore (now Bengaluru) was a small town. Those who lived in the Cantonment rarely went outside the area. There was hardly any need to because it was self-contained with schools, colleges, markets, parks and playgrounds, a road lined with shops unimaginatively called Commercial Street, restaurants, bookshops and film theatres. Most of the time, most of the people walked everywhere. It was not uncommon to see a family dressed in their best walking to a wedding, party or film. Everyone looked forward to going to the cinema, studying the announcements showing black-and-white reproductions of the film posters in newspapers, checking and rechecking the timings, booking seats and waiting eagerly for the big day. Teenage was announced when we were permitted to watch a film with friends and without adult supervision. Outings to the cinema with a classmate were rare and something I prepared for as if setting out on an African safari: water, snacks, an umbrella, an extra pair of spectacles... all just in case. Do they still hold morning shows?

My college friend Veena Javali had the use of her uncle Ashok’s Lambretta, the grandfather of today’s scooters, a heavy, noisy machine which spluttered her back and forth from home, barely a furlong from college. We all thought she was terribly smart as she kick-started her “lamby” and set off, hair and dupatta flying stylishly behind her.

I went on trial rides with her till we finally received permission from both sets of parents to attend a film show some 3 km away. Mode of conveyance? The grey Lambretta. All went well with me riding pillion as we chugged down Mahatma Gandhi Road from Cunningham Road. As we rode into Lido Theatre and made confidently to the scooter parking, I wondered why Veena was not slowing down. Suddenly, she swerved from the parking lot and circled the building. I thought she was just enjoying the extra distance. As we came round to the front, I realised that we were travelling at the same speed. I asked her why she was not stopping. “I’ve forgotten how to brake, how to stop,” she replied laughing. That set me off too, and we circled the building a third time laughing all the while. Finally, she slowed to dead speed and bumped gently to a stop against a sturdy tree whereupon we both fell off gracefully in a planned sort of way. Luckily, there were not too many to watch our novel way of bringing a Lambretta to a stop.

I can never drive past the post office outside Cubbon Park without recalling the day we slid off the scooter at the traffic lights right in front of a bus which had come to a stop because it had an alert driver.

Suffice it to say that it took Veena some time to master the art of stopping what she had started.

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 10:43:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-lamby-that-wouldnt-stop/article30061281.ece

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