I have been an ardent proponent of the school of thought that there is something about the way Indians do whatever they do, that can not be matched all that easily by rivals. They have their own patented ways of going about things - just the way the Japanese are known for their technological inventions, Germans for their Engineering prowess or Americans for their unused brains when it comes to External Affairs.
I was travelling by bike the other day in a blend of Urban and the Rural, at normal speed. I could hear the sound of a weird engine approaching me. Since I had to concentrate on the road to avoid any damage to the shock absorbers, I didnt take much strain in turning back to look at the source of the sound - though I kept wondering what it might be. I could hear it nearing me, gradually. It must have been travelling slightly faster than me; in a while, I could see its shadow overtake my bike and then, I could see the wheel. Strangely enough, it was another bike. But the noise was something that I wasn't used to. As I turned to have look at who was riding it, I was shocked!
Not because of the person who was there - but because of the place where he was! He was sitting on the Petrol Tank of the bike and was leaning on the handle bar. And Im sure even if he wanted to move a couple of centimeters forward, it would be an agonising experience for him. His feet were on the crash guard and his folded knees were in front of the bike, right above the wheel. Well, in a nut shell, it was an awkward position - you wouldnt want to give it a try; that's for sure!
Even as I was wondering why he chose to ride a bike that way, the vehicle kept overtaking me. I didnt want to risk losing my balance while trying to grasp the gravity of the situation - still, kept glancing at it. Then, I came to know why he had placed himself that way - there was one more guy sitting , well, not on the seat, but on the petrol tank, again! He was leaning against the back of the first joker; he held his head atop the first one's shoulders, and he had his hands on the bike's head light. I didnt have the time nor the courage to see where he had placed his feet - because, by then, I could see that there was one more man behind the second person.
I almost lost balance then and decided enough was enough. I managed to pull up at the road side, and stopped safely, letting the threesome move ahead! To my horror, it was not a threesome at all! The three were followed by two more gentlemen! The third one was on the seat, the fourth one fully on the seat and the last guy, half on the seat and half aerial! There was a sack tied at the end of the bike, just beneath the last man!
I was lost! Here I was, trying to focus on the road, avoiding pot holes and riding so carefully, all alone - and here was a five man army, that kept overtaking me slowly and steadily, and kept going even as I called it quits!
I was trying to figure out something - I had to find the answers to some questions! "Of the five, who was actually Riding? How many of them knew how to ride a bike? How did they get into their positions? How would they fill petrol? Okay, if a police constable wanted to check their licenses, who is to be held responsible? How many licneses are necessary to ride a bike in such a way? Should all of them be above the age of 18? Can there be more than two "Riders" for one bike? Who would change gears? Who would apply brakes? Or was there only one driver and were the rest, navigators? Or were they passengers? Well, were there just two wheels???"
I was confused! And I decided that I had to find the answer to the puzzle that would make the Chief Justice resign!
I re-started my bike. I over took the train. I wanted to see how they stopped the bike. I blocked their way as I reduced the speed gradually, in such a way that the train had no other option but to stop on its way. The ten eyes were frowning and the five faces were annoyed, even as they came to a complete halt! I blocked them completely and got off the bike.
I could see ten feet on the ground - still couldn't make out who the driver was! I approached them.
"What?" asked one of them - I wasn't sure whose voice it was, of the five.
"I have a problem with my bike and have a long way to go" I said.
The gang looked puzzled. Five voices followed. "So?"
"Can you give me a lift please???"