One of the challenges while working two jobs was to reach the college in time after seeing two kids off to school, although to tell the truth I had little to do in that department, as I had enough help at home. So we would leave at 7.30 from home at Gangamma Temple and reach the second college at Wheeler Road (13 km)by 8 am, then leave there by 8.45am to reach college by 9 am for the signing of the attendance register and for most of the rides I had Shankar Subramaniam for company on the way back.
The rush through the Wheeler Road underbridge, past Pottery Town, the bylanes and on to the Nandi Durg Road to reach the relatively busier junction of Munireddypalya (now J C Nagar), accelerating on the stretch in front of TV tower and around the large circle at Mekhri (yes there was a circle once here!), slowing down just enough in front of the Police station at Sadashivnagar for the home stretch to MSR, would usually take about 18 minutes on my bike with pillion but not wanting to check in later than 9 am was an added incentive to make the trip in 15. This is an impossibility in today’s normal Bangalore traffic.
We would come to a halt in front of college and Shankar would rush in to sign as I removed my helmet and follow him in. I would come back out to park the bike in the ground opposite the college before proceeding to the first floor to the staff rooms. Shankar would stop at the rest room situated inside the guest bedroom, where the housekeeping practical is held, to wash the dried up salt streaks that would have formed on both sides of his temple and more often than not, he would remark that sitting behind me is like a video game.
On another occasion, I was coming back with him and was tearing down West of Chord Road when I saw a bus in the distance as I was approaching Mahalakshmipuram. We were on the left side of the two-way avenue and riding along, when this bus moved towards its right. Seeing an opportunity of a wide opening, I gunned the bike and found to my dismay that the bus was taking left and the movement was to assist its long body. The window of opportunity fast closing, I decided to go left along with the bus and was in touching distance. I saw a hand reaching out to grab the bus in the mirror as I made the sharp left turn which forced me to make a U turn instead into the service road and stop, while the bus continued in its journey. I stopped and grabbed the helmet off my head and wanted an explanation. Shankar was sheepish and told me that he was trying to help me make the turn better. I spluttered and stammered in my response then both of us got hysteric as we proceeded back to college, much subdued.
One trip to the University, I had the librarian instead of Shankar and I was narrating these incidents to him as I went past the Sankey tank and Bhashyam Circle. I reached the Kaveri movie hall junction and took a wide right on the extreme left of the lane, all the while Ravi was mentioning that my riding is all right by his standards. I straightened into the wide road in front of Kaveri to find a Matador van blocking my path. With the space on my right rapidly narrowing due to traffic coming up behind me, I squeezed through the narrow gap, missing the van by a whisker. For the rest of the trip Ravi was unusually quiet and excused himself from the return trip citing a non-existent meeting with some officials.
The only time I actually hit someone was also at the Kaveri junction. Unlike today there were no signals or the median and traffic was very lean. I had the bike for a few months and I was rushing to the hotel for my evening shift. As I approached the curve, I saw a man crossing the street and stop at what would have been the median. The evening had set, and vehicles were coming from the other lane. He took a step back from the center line on seeing a car with headlights on taking the turn. I would have still missed him, but he took another step back straight on to my path. I must have hit him hard, for I found both of us on the ground as the bike went skidding on. A couple of onlookers, helped him to the side of the road as I picked myself up and pushed the bike to the side of the road. He wasn’t hurt or bleeding but just winded from the deflection of my bike handle on his ribs. I rubbed his chest, waited till he was breathing and feeling fine, then quickly made my way back to the hotel. It was fortunate that we did not get run over by following traffic due to the lean traffic in the 90s and the helmet which was always worn over the years. There were a couple of other ones at 10 kmph when the bike skidded over a uneven hump or sand debris but without any harm to either Jaya in Kodaikanal or a colleague in Vijayalakshmi on our way to the bank in Mathikere from college.
Although it sounds exciting now, it is due to sheer fate and some skill that I have come unscathed over the years and the couple of incidents in the car also meant that someone was looking after us. Thank God.
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