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The old school tie

Girish Bhandari |

The other day someone was mentioning the sheer thrill of watching Formula 1 racing. Well, I participated in a local version many years ago.

My friend Ghosh and I were posted to Chandigarh for about a month. Many of our friends were stationed at Ambala. We decided to give them a surprise. Ghosh took out his big motor bike and we hit the road. It was not the maddening traffic of today, yet the trucks whooshed by, as Ghosh raced the motor bike.

We had a great time at Ambala. Our friends insisted on our staying the night, but we had our training session the next morning. We started at nine, back to Chandigarh. Hardly had we gone about 10 km, when the engine coughed and went silent. Ghosh tried all the “kicks” at his command, but the obstinate mule refused to come to life.

We tried to stop a passing truck, but no one really bothered. They must have been thinking that we were highway robbers. It was getting bitterly cold. As a last attempt I kicked the starter with all my might. It jarred my knee, but the engine decided to take pity on us. Delight! Ghosh declared that he would not stop the bike come what may, now that it had started.

It was a dark night, with almost no lights on the highway. But the road was clear in the full beam. No fog, no smog. He accelerated. Suddenly, I felt that a tornado had passed by us. I saw a motor bike with two young fellows just fly by. “Yahoo”, they shouted.

Ghosh took it as a personal insult. He gritted his teeth and speeded up. We caught up with them within five km. This time it was my turn to clinch my fist and shout “Yahoo”.

After about five minutes, the tornado hit us again. We speeded up …the race went on. After a couple of kilometres we came across a level crossing, which was closed. But Ghosh decided that the bike could not be stopped. He, therefore, took a 500-metre diversion and crossed the rail track. The bike wobbled and lurched and protested but we regained the highway again.

The wind had gained a further icy edge. We decided finally to  stop, for a cup of tea. Ghosh was not in favour, but I could not have gone further. My hands were numb. Suddenly we saw the Yahoo gang. They were four teenagers on two motorbikes. On one pretext or the other, they were trying to pick up a fight in their youthful exuberance. They could have easily had their way with us, being taller and more muscular than us.

 “Whats your name”, the most hefty one accosted Ghosh. “I am Ghosh”, said my friend. “You Bong what are you doing here”, the hefty continued. Ghosh had spent fifteen years in Jalandhar, where his father was a senior engineer. This time Ghosh spoke in chaste Punjabi peppered with some typical Punjabi swear words. The gang could not believe their ears.

Then, one of them noticed the tie which Ghosh had folded and kept inside his pocket. “Where did you get this tie?”, he asked. “Why, this is my school tie, which I still wear”, answered Ghosh. The Yahoo gang was flustered. “Excuse us sir, for our bad manners. We study in the same school. Accept our apologies as you are a senior” said the most belligerent looking boy.

We ordered a fresh round of tea. It was now close to twelve. As Ghosh kicked the starter, the bike showed its tantrums again. It would not start. A member of the gang brought out a wrench and a spare spark plug, fitted it in and gave it an ever so gentle kick. The bike roared, and so also all of us in unison Yahoooo…!

Their two bikes almost drove as pilots for us, and we reached Chandigarh in another half hour.

Thanks to the School Tie!