Saturday, August 31, 2013

A story of love and lots of lust...

A recent conversation with someone made me realize that when we say two wheeler enthusiasts the usual images that come to mind are the big gangs including the big boys on the Enfield bullets but there exist a set of people who are hard core fanatics of their set of two wheels and constantly upgrade to the same model of TVS mopeds.

Do not get me wrong, I do not think that it is a bad vehicle; in fact it merits the same kind of crazy, inexplicable adulation given to a Bullet by its users who swear by it despite its many shortcomings that are called as its USPs. The TVS 50 in its many avatars put many people on to the road and was their first ever motorized personal transport vehicle. People in the villages still swear by it as do the delivery boys in many grocery shops in the cities.

I go back to my school days in St. Bede’s AIHS when TVS was something that excited most of us in high school. Those were the days of commuting to school by bus or cycle, days when the bus was painted green and called PTC and the fare for my trip was 50 paise. Since the journey was two stops and one stage in a crowded bus it was possible that a ticket could not be bought in time and so usually it was an iced lolly on the way home. Those were the days!

In those days the students of class XII started coming to school on “bikes”, the 60 cc variant of the TVS 50 called the TVS Champ and for all those coming by bus this was the ultimate drool worthy transport known. At that time motorbikes were the Bullets, Jawa / Yezdis ,the Ind Suzuki, Hero Hondas and the “hamara” Bajaj range of scooters. Dad had a Lamby an old beauty while those who preferred sleeker scooters had the Vijay Super. But by know you know for those not yet old enough to ride a two wheeler the next option was the TVS Champ which looked sleek, went faster than the 50 even if the top speed was around 50 kmph or so and came in many colours. These class XII students facing the pressure of multiple tuition classes got themselves their bikes and sent the rest of us in a lust trip.

Before I forget there was also one unique vehicle that did not require a license despite having an engine made by the same makers who made the Bullet, this was called a Mofa and if I remember right had a 30 cc engine, was ungeared and went abysmally slow and so even for us school kids it was an eyesore. We wanted speed we wanted the Champ. So many of us dreamed of owning one and many more were looking at excuses to persuade our parents that a Champ was required to do well in school. Sadly my attempts were not creative enough but I managed to move up from the PTC to a Hero Ranger MTB cycle.
Back then MTBs were the rage, remember the Street Cats with a very catchy jingle. We never realized that the M in the MTB was mountain terrain and unlike the roads of today the roads back then were better and safer and needed just the SLRs of BSA.

In the midst of all this Champ cravings, the Hero group unleashed a set of sporty mopeds called Hero Puch and in that series there was one model called a sport model and it set our pulses racing. Imagine alloy wheels, bikini fairing, sporty decals on a moped!!! The owner of this model was the new hero in our street and everyone queued up for a ride on this and suddenly the Champ seemed to be a commuter moped. Many days passed when I imagined myself on one of these racers one day as I pedalled to school.

Then class XII happened and our finances could not handle a Champ; we also relocated to Anna Nagar so it was the PTC bus that served me through school and then through college. College commuting was fun on the PTC bus and on the odd days I rode the Kinetic Honda (remember that) to college very furtively as I did not have a license. College was followed my MBA in Pondicherry where transport inside the huge campus was managed by cycles or any available two wheelers. Travel outside the campus was by bus. In the campus I remember encountering another Hero Puch, this time the commuter variant and a M80, the Bajaj equivalent of the TVS 50. Incidentally the owner of the M80 was uncharitably called the milk man due to the vehicle.

My two wheeler relationship started with a TVS product, not one from the 50 family but a 150cc model called the Fiero which was my first love for several years. Today after comprehensively destroying my back and having been warned off two wheelers by my physician I watch when others continue their love stories with their two wheeled crushes with a smile. When I see someone riding his third TVS XL vehicle, I understand that for some it is an enduring love story and love cannot be reasoned just experienced.
(Images courtesy - Google Images)

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