Get your butt on that cycle,” I told myself. It was 9.30 in the night and I had just finished a lousy day of making lemonades, lemon pickles and even lime rice for life had only lemons to hand me for the day. I was cranky, tired and irritable. In short, it was the perfect time to be out on a cycle. I knew that within ten minutes of pumping those pedals, good mood would rush back to me as surely as the blood that gushes to my face when I cycle.
It all began when my husband and I found some exquisite cycling trails in Pondicherry. Apart from the sheer pleasure of cycling, we found that we had walked (well, cycled) side by side for more than sixty minutes and we had not quarrelled once.
“This is an incredible invention,” said my husband.
“The cycle has been around since the 19th century,” I said dryly.
“No, I mean the fact that we don’t quarrel when we cycle,” he said.
“That would be a discovery and not an invention, Palooka.” I said and a quarrel broke out promptly.
Yet once back neither of us could forget the immense joy cycling had given us. When you cycle, the landscape does not whiz past you in a blur as it does while in a car or a train. When you cycle, you become aware of those limbs of yours that you have long used and soaped unconsciously and never acknowledged. The dull joint aches and the pungent sweat of your armpit make you feel strangely present to yourself. Cycling slows down life and makes your own body visible to you.
“Have you wondered how crazy we are? We have two cars, two motorcycles and we want to buya cycle after all this?” my husband asked.
“Let me see, that makes it totally 12 wheels in our house and any surprise we look like their tyres?” I asked.
My exquisite logic and its expression won the argument.
We bought a cycle, a unisex that both man and wife could use. My (okay our!) cycle is red in colour. It is done up in red and silver in fact. It is sporty, macho and its curious handlebars make it seem like a buffalo with huge horns. When I ride it I like to think I look like Lord Yama on his buffalo. Gives me a sense of power, a daredevilry and all those racy feelings that a motorcycle is so wont to give and a cycle is not.
Yet life is mostly lived in our imagination and so my cycle is indeed this powerful fire-spitting, smoke-exhaling beast that I tame each time I get on it.
After I finished my round on my buffalo, I egged my husband to take it to work.
“What?? Of all the….”
“You will set a good corporate example. This will emblematise your corporate cost cutting exercise. You will be a paradigm of survivorship in times of recession,” I perorated.
“Good idea. So can you drop me by cycle in car? Or should I cycle to work by car?” He asked. “You don’t understand anything that does not come via a PPT (powerpoint presentation) or your bluetooth, do you?” I asked.
“Recycle that. I mean come again?” he asked and I asked him to stop being a bull and doggedly argued until he chickened in fright and acceded to ride the buffalo to work.
As usual, my exquisite (animal) logic and its expression won the argument. My husband has been cycling to work at least three times a week ever since and he does no less than 45 km in a week.
He says all that pumping makes him mentally alert by the time he reaches office and when he returns home all his bad chi has already been worked off and there really is no need to start an argument or throw a fit to release tension. We really are quarrelling less these days.
That night, as I climbed on my bovine vahana, my son called out.
“Here, wear this orange hood jacket of mine. You will look sporty,” said my son.
“But it will conceal my attractiveness?” I complained.
“Er…yeah. Safer, don’t you think? Given the late hour, I mean,” added my husband.
So if you see a lady late in the night in an orange hood (to hide her attractiveness), setting the roads on fire, exhibiting hitherto unmatched daredevilry on a bike that resembles a buffalo, know that it’s me.