Hamara Bajaj & How I saved my brother’s life

Bajaj Chetak is like Maggi Noodles. Almost every middle-class Indian in my generation has some memories associated with it. So, I was saddened to see the news item bidding it farewell forever.


I learned to “drive” on my father’s Bajaj Chetak. Have I told you how brave the men in my life are? Let me explain by example – the simplest method really. I sometimes wonder why these textbooks write pages of theories when all they need is one example.

Situation: I had to learn to drive the scooter.
Tools: New scooter.
Lessons learnt: Each of us had a different story glean from my experience, so bear with me, while I recollect each ones learning.

1) The father learnt later, that it is not a good idea to give a new shiny vehicle to the teenage daughter with no strength and a very wobbly sense of balance. I carry the honour and the burden of the cross, since I broke the rotational gear or some part that makes the gears turn smoothly inside the engine. The parts are a little foggy – my knowledge stops somewhere around petrol tank and gears. Changing gears can be a very tricky business with these bally vehicles, you have to do something with the clutch and gargle the same time as the accelaration and finally cough with the change. All very complex of course, and I remember telling myself that practice was the only way to slap it down. I am trying to jog the memory, but all I remember is changing gears every 30 seconds to see if I still had it in me. Let’s say, I had it me, but Bajaj Chetak did not have it in it – One up for me! *Sticks tongue at Chetak*.

Years later, as it pulled through the steep hills of the Nilgiri Hills, it would sputter and jump from the first gear straight to the third, because it always slid past the second gear. The mechanic, who has never laid eyes on me incidentally, blamed it on changing gears often and unnecessarily.

2) The brother’s lessons were more philosophical than material. He learnt never to volunteer as the human lamppost for a vehicle-challenged dumb-bell. One profound life truth he carries with him to this day is that he loves me, but to love me, he had to live. I feel like a little background story is necessary here. My father stood as post A and my brother stood as post B. We were using a large 400 meter track ground for the purpose with an elevated viewing area. I felt like Androcles driving forth magnificently, sitting majestically on the beaming blue “Hamara Bajaj!” My elder sister stood a good kilometer away egging me on for moral support. Her own bicycle chronicles would fill a blog. She had never tried anything motorized before and beamed with pride as she saw me on the splendid new scooter.

My brother and father stood very close to each other (just about 500 meters apart), in which space I had to maneuvre with great skill and form an ‘8’ shape (a critical move to obtain a driver’s license in India)

I have provided visual representations of the ideal path and the reality for your reference.

The man the brother has become, learnt that it is a matter of seconds before the human pillar stands as a stone pillar frozen in time, run over by the “wheels of learning”. This was the path I took.

To my credit, I saved his life. I gave a blood curdling scream as I hurtled into his path, and he jumped aside, displaying a certain nimble movement that I hadn’t imagined him capable of.

Why did I scream instead of honking the horn? Because, it was a new vehicle and before I could remember to declutch and burp, before applying the brakes, and find the horn (phew!), this seemed easier.

3) My lessons were simple: keep trying, and you will succeed. Thereafter, everytime, I had to take a ride on the scooter, I had to entreat one of the stronger folks to take the scooter out of the stand, kick start it and give it to me. Then, I got to my destination, and implored somebody else to put the stand. When I decided to take the trip back, I had to find a third somebody to take it out of the stand and start it for me. Very simple.

I loved our Bajaj!

Adieu Bajaj! Middle class India will miss you.

16 thoughts on “Hamara Bajaj & How I saved my brother’s life”

  1. Very funny blog! You breaking Bajaj is just one half of the story. How about Hero puch breaking your hand??
    You reap what you sow πŸ™‚

  2. I have multiple issues with this post and it’s content:

    1. As the affected party, I believe the title is misleading, to say the least. You did not SAVE my life, you almost took it. You said it in your post, right there, that it was my nimble footwork and my (then) ability to spring like a deer that saved me.

    2. I protest to the whole post, you literally beat me to the punch. I was going to put up this very same incident, obviously, viewed from my angle with a beautiful new scooter rushing towards me (including the fancy artwork – I must agree, I had the very same image in mind).

    3. Thanks to your lovely gear shifting, do you know how much fun it was to go to Kallatti? Coming back, we’d have to literally crawl along in first gear because it can’t climb in third and can’t use second!

    4. Thanks to you again, the sign of a dainty lady riding along peacefully on a two wheeler now does not draw my attention, the immediate urge to climb the nearest 2 storey building does! You’ve scarred me for life!

    All said and done, TN 43 4918 was an amazing scooter. It could do 80kmph if you pushed it and was supremely comfortable. I loved it! Luckily there’s still one more Bajaj in the family left – the extinct Legend!

  3. Siblings I tell you will always find a reason to complaint no matter what you do for them! sigh…

    This incident actually reminded me of something, sorry but cudn’t resist from sharing it with u all …

    my sister ( 4 yrs older than me) was learning how to ride a kinetic Honda and was literally shaking when she got on it…So while she was sitting on the scooter contemplating to start or not.. I turned on the ignition, gave the scooter race and pushed it.. I thought it will help her get over her fear and she will balance it.. duh me!

    She lost her cool and I kept shouting pull the break pull the break… else she wud have banged into the wall and just when she was an inch before the wall she applied the brakes..phew.. thank god nothing happened to my kinetic πŸ˜‰ I saved her after all by shouting and running after to pull the brakes… helpful me…

    and she never got on to any two wheeler again…:)

  4. hey.. you made me remember my first eight!! yeah my dad was hell bent on me trying out this supposedly complex arithmetic figure!! I wonder why every beginner is not asked to make a Ten!!! It will be a real test, going straight and then jumping with ur bike to make a circle…

  5. And to think that I was so proud of my smart little sister who could ride two-wheelers when I couldn’t!!! Somehow, everytime I blew this trumpet about the sister, the brother looked unhappy!!!

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