The post My memorable bicycle trip from Mumbai to Goa generated a lot of buzz. People asked me a lot of questions about cycling. Many of them thought I must have been a very experienced cyclist. And that brought up the memory about the strange cycle accident I had in IIT.
I had learnt the basics of cycling when I was in sixth grade. However, after that I didn’t have much of an opportunity to use a bicycle. When I got in to IIT, I realized the need to have a mechanized mode of transport to go around in the huge campus.
One of my father’s friends, Parate Kaka, had a bicycle which was not being used. He readily agreed to lend it to me. He stayed in Goregaon. My father went to Parate Kaka’s residence and cycled from there to IIT Powai and brought the bicycle straight to my hostel. However, my own cycling skills were completely rusted. This was a Thursday evening.
In IIT, we had a film club that screened a popular movie every Friday in the convocation hall. The convocation hall is an institution by itself. This was the venue for our movies and also for our end semester exams. This was also where all the concerts during the famous Mood Indigo would take place. All of us have a special place in our memories for the convocation hall.
So every Friday, all the students in the campus would make a beeline to watch the movie of the day. Friday was also the day for dry dinner. On this day, the menu for the dinner used to be sandwiches, omelette, chips and soup, followed by a jelly & custard. A menu that could never be spoilt by anyone. The time for dinner typically used to be from 7.30 to 9 pm. The movie would get over at around 9, and then there would be a mad rush to reach the hostels in time to get the dry dinner.
This Friday, I decided to take my bicycle to the movie. To reach the convocation hall, one had to negotiate a fairly steep slope. When the movie was over, the slope would be chock full of all the people rushing to their hostels. As I was cycling up the slope, I realized that with my meagre cycling skills and delicate balance, I would not be able to negotiate that slope through the huge crowd of people returning from the movie. So I convinced one of my friends, Santosh Sabnis, to leave the movie about 15 minutes earlier so we could avoid the rush. He agreed.
As the movie was nearing the climax, I nudged Santosh and he came along. Both of us mounted our vehicles and started out. We were going down the slope and the cycle picked up speed. I was uncomfortable with that speed, but was also uncomfortable about applying the brakes.
The slope was completely empty, except for a solitary figure leisurely walking in the middle of the road, going in the same direction as us. I was speeding, out of control, saw this guy. I tried breaking, tried to ring the bell, shout at him and before I knew it, hit him from behind.
Both of us and the cycle fell down. He was completely incredulous. He couldn’t believe that someone can dash him on a bicycle when the road was completely empty. I profusely apologized. Explained my predicament to him. He understood and let me go.
You can imagine Santosh’s reaction just a year later when I declared that I was going to Goa on my bicycle.