[Warning: Some heavy-duty self-indulgence ahead]
Before going to college, my parents had conveyed very explicitly that they wouldn't buy a bike for me - ever. They would have happily agreed to my sky-diving without parachutes before they agreed to let me ride bikes. My character didn't warrant such an attitude - I had always prided myself on being mature and responsible in whatever I did (It's funny how nearly every guy I know thinks that way about themselves - but I've got data to back me up. I've never crashed/scratched a bike or car in my 6 years of handling automobiles. That small scratch on the C-pillar of appa's car was the fault of the truck driver, and that broken rear-view mirror was because the Scorpio jumped out of nowhere)
So, throughout the four years of college, I was reduced to begging and borrowing bikes from friends (and sometimes even juniors – oh, the ignominy of it!) whenever I needed to go to Alankar for a movie or Dwarka for job treats from seniors or the railway station to book tickets. There's no public transportation in Nagpur and autos were mighty expensive for students like me subsisting on meagre handouts from parents. Thankfully, most of my friends were rather accommodative and agreed to lend the bike as long as I didn't bring it back completely dry.
While riding a Yamaha RX-100 around Chennai some days back (borrowed, of course, from Barry), I was reminded of those days in college and it was then that I realized something - if bikes were girlfriends, I'd have given Casanova a run for his money. I have ridden so many bikes in my short life so far that I have lost track of the number. In fact, I'd have gone one step ahead of Casanova - all my flames were other people's girlfriends and worse of all, most of the relationships were one-night stands.
So here's the list of ten of the relatively long-term relationships. I've decided to list this down as an act of thanksgiving to all my friends who lent me piece of their heart – their girlfriends bikes. And since I've not been able to put any serious thought into blogging for some time and won't be able to do so for some more time, I thought it would be a good idea to let you in on this. The complete list would be too long to even try to remember.
1. Vinayak's Pulsar 150 - The First Time, when a boy finally kick-starts the bike and makes that first twist of the accelerator to ride into manhood. I used this bike only once later, but the First Time is always special and I still remember it like it was yesterday.
2. Saxena's Freedom - Bad bike, threw more tantrums than a 15 year old (Yamaha that is). I used it more than the owner himself and hence this one is first on the list in terms of usage.
3. Dino's YBX - Not as fussy as the RX 100s, but a Yamaha all the same - second in the list of usage
4. Barry's Fiero - A great bike, my respect for bikes from the TVS stable owes its existence to this Fiero - third in my list.
5. Achal's RX 100 - Extremely temperamental and difficult to ride when I started out. If bikes were girlfriends, a Yamaha would be the plain looking girlfriend who nags a lot, consumes a lot of golden-brown liquid and smokes like a chimney; but with whom sex is amazing.
6. Sujai's RX 100 - Same as Achal's bike, but I ended up using this one a lot unlike Achal's.
7. Bala's Max100 - consistent performance even after 15 years, I've carried more drunk people back to hostel on this bike than on any other (I was usually invited to daaru parties so that I could bring the drunk guys back to hostel. I didn't start drinking until final year). This bike reinforced my respect for TVS-Suzuki bikes.
8. Naresh's Pulsar 180 - Definitely Male. If bikes were girlfriends, this one would be a girlfriend with a LOT of testosterone and I'd be gay. I used this bike very rarely because Barry was on it most of the time, poor Naresh never got to touch the seat covers.
9. Baone's Splendor - If bikes were girlfriends, a Splendor would be the girl to marry - not exactly a Victoria's Secret model but it does its job and never complains*.
10. Barry's RX-100 (his labour of love after the Fiero was taken from him) - made more sound than a train because of its modified silencer, but the power delivery was orgasmic. Saw a lot of this bike during the final year and now, after a long time, in Chennai.
Honourable mention: Anand's Discover, Anshul's Ambition and Amar's Unicorn.
*Before you say it, let me clarify that I'm no MCP. Just imagine what the world would be without sardar / dumb blonde jokes.