So there it was, the latest and fastest bike in the market at the time, a green Hero Honda CBZ. I had the time of my life exploring the roads of Delhi and it felt like the world was my playground.
At the end of 6 months and after a lot of contemplation, I was allowed to ride my bike to Jaipur to finish my degree. Now it so happened that the bike got me a lot of attention, and I am sure it was like a shining star on my shoulder when I did muster enough courage to propose Amrita (read Nostalgia in the time of COVID 19 to see how that worked out). Anyhow, from being called Rohit to just Amrita’s boyfriend, a few people in college and a lot of locals who were eyeing Amrita were not happy with my recent developments.
One fateful morning I went about my normal morning routine to a gym where I had been going for the past 3 months. Like any other day, I parked my bike in the quiet lane and went into the basement gym. After about an hour I walked out of the gym to find my parking spot empty; the CBZ was gone. I thought someone might have played a prank and walked the full length of the lane to check. I tried to make sure if it was towed and asked around frantically. Finally, I found a guy who told me that the bike had not been there when he had come. With nothing else to do I left the gym on a rickshaw with Umesh, with the bike’s keys in my pocket and the black Ninja helmet which had saved me many times but not today.
The rickshaw stopped in front of the college main gate and I laughed my way through my misery and went in. Because it was a Sunday almost everyone was up and had come down to have breakfast before there was none left. I met a friend and he asked me where my bike was. In the next 30 minutes, I had repeated my story 15 times and by now everyone knew that I’d lost my bike.
I think it is events like these that make those college years count and prepare you for all the ups and downs that life has in store for you. So here I was, standing with my faithful friend Umesh in the nearby police station to lodge an FIR. A few overworked police guys slept in the room, an old table near the entrance had papers all over it, and a constable who looked like our Halwai back home asked me why I was there. Having heard my plight, the man told me to wait for 2 days and only in case we were still unable to find my bike would he lodge a complaint.
Back at the college, I got all kinds of reactions, some were happy, few tried to help by calling their local contacts. That’s when Bhawani Singh aka Bhavsa, a 6 feet 1 inch tall, well-built guy steps into my story on a 100 cc lean machine called the TVS Moped. He was from Jaipur and a typical Rajput. He never backed down, always lived a life of honour and would do anything for his friends. Bhawsa was like the pope of our college… he had the official naming rights. He would shorten your name and just to compensate add the title SA at the end as a mark of respect, so we had names like Nagsa, Umsa, Chamsa, Devsa, this sa and that sa.
Bhavsa grabbed my arm and got me on his moped and told me that we’re going to a place where even he doesn’t go much, but to help he’ll move mountains. After riding for 20 minutes he parked somewhere near the railway tracks. On the other side of the tracks was a different world of people who make the railway tracks their home, rag pickers, labourers, and they looked at me like I was an alien. After crossing all this we reached a cluster of houses and knocked on a blue freshly painted door. Now in my mind, I was getting flashes from all the gangster movies I’ve been seeing. Questions like “Who is going to open the door?’, ‘Is it some gangster, don, godfather?’ etc. were popping up every second. The breakdown to this hype was Raju Bhaiya, a man in his late 30’s, who opened the door. Bhavsa quickly explained to him what had happened. He thought for a moment, replied that nothing could be done now and closed the door. And that was that and we headed back to the college.
Next day Umesh and I headed to the police station to check if they had any information or should we just file the FIR. After some hesitation, the Halwai constable agreed to file the FIR and he asked us to step outside. We knew what was coming and had come prepared. Friends had warned us that we’ll have to pay to get the FIR lodged, so we dressed in the most shabby looking clothes, put Rs 200 in our wallet and stepped in. The negotiation started and went on for 30 min, and in this half-hour, we told him about all the problems our families are facing and might face in the future just to save Rs 100. The guy had all day and would not budge, and finally let us off after taking Rs 150, leaving only Rs 50 for us to go back to the college.
The Insurance policy
Now that I had lodged an FIR it was time to call the insurance company. So very promptly the next day, this shady-looking old uncle arrives. In hindsight, I was prepared for the FIR incident but not for what was about to happen next. He asked about what had happened and I narrated the whole story, while he listened to me very carefully and took notes on his old diary. Once I was done he said- “Beta(son), I don’t think you are telling me the whole thing, don’t worry, consider me your uncle and tell me everything. Don’t hide anything. So I added that the bike was stolen 4 days ago and the report was written 2 days ago as the police refused.
I once made a mistake in the kitchen and my senior said, “Bandar ko di Haldi aur usne apni ass pe mal di”, I had made the grave mistake of telling the whole truth. The agent wrote all of this in the report and in the end, I got half the insurance amount, only after visiting the Insurance office some 20 times.
In all of this, my new girlfriend who had visualised going on long drives on the bike was now shaken but not stirred. I am glad that she decided to stick around and thankfully Jaipur had a lot of rickshaws which we could use for the next 6 months for our dates.
Those days and moments will stay with all of us and each time I meet my college buddies, we can pick up one of the conversations that were left unfinished 15 years ago. This one is dedicated to the best times of our lives and the Institute of Hotel Management, Jaipur.