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New learning and life’s adventure actually begin once relieved of all other responsibilities. With her riding experiments, Manjula Basavaraj explains how.
My name is Manjula Basavaraj. I have been a house wife all my life with two beautiful children who always shower me with lot of love and happiness. My husband is very supportive and loving as well. I am from a very small village near Bangalore and got married at the age of 18. So, my exposure to life was extremely limited back then.
Things changed when my husband retired as a government employee and we moved from Bangalore to Mysore. Though my husband and me are both from small villages near Bangalore, we have always loved Mysore. So, we decided to spend post-retirement life in Mysore. I suppose that has been a wonderful decision for us.
We moved to Mysore in the year 2005 and our daughter was already married by then. Her two-wheeler was always there at home without any use.
Once when she came home for a couple of days, just for fun she said, “Amma I will teach you how to ride the two wheeler. Then you can independently go around without relying on autos, buses or even dad for instance.”
I have always been an active member of ladies clubs. I thought for a moment and told my daughter that it was a great idea. Anyway she would be home for couple of days and she could definitely teach me riding a two wheeler in the empty field opposite to our home.
I had learnt to ride a bicycle when I was 15 years old. I had not ventured into riding for about 40 years since then. So, I did not remember how balancing a two wheeler would feel like.
The very first day when we went till the field, my heart was racing with anxiety. The thought of accelerating and not being able to balance myself and falling was overwhelming. My daughter was all excited as I would learn to ride soon. As soon as I got on to the vehicle, I wholeheartedly started praying to all the gods to not make me fall and break a bone.
My daughter was very patient. She explained each and every bit and asked me not to fear as my legs could easily touch the ground. She taught how to start the vehicle, where and what an accelerator was and how the brakes worked. At that point whatever she was explaining felt like it was way too much information for me to digest and the anxiety had taken over everything else.
I first accelerated a bit too much and went over a small bump of mud and slid to one side, while my daughter came up, lifted up the bike and told me it was nothing and that I need to know how much to accelerate.
I went around the field a few times, while my daughter came running behind me. Once she was confident that I am able to balance, she stood in the middle of the field and kept telling me to go on.
I thought it was a huge challenge to learn riding a two wheeler and I had accomplished it. But then realised getting a license without paying any bribe is a bigger challenge than learning itself.
Along with a friend of mine, who I had pushed to learn riding a two wheeler, I went to the RTO office at Mysore. On seeing two women aged above 50, a couple of brokers approached us by asking if we needed a license. They told us that if we give them a couple of thousands they would get all the work done and we can get the license without any hassle.
Somehow the thought of paying so much to those men did not feel good. So, we went up to the enquiry queue, stood there for over 45 minutes and when our turn came we asked the lady at the enquiry counter about all the procedures to be followed before getting a two wheeler license.
The lady said that we will have to first apply for a learner’s license and after practicing to ride for about 6 months, then we will have to go back, before the expiry of the learners license, and take a test. Post clearing a written as well as the riding test, we can finally get a formal license.
So that day we did apply and get our LLRs done. In the following 5 months I made sure I did learn to ride and practiced for many hours in the field opposite to our home. Later I got the courage to ride on roads.
I used to ask my husband a million questions on what signals to use when I had to turn right or left, how to check and fill fuel etc. I kept pushing my friend as well to practise, so that both of us could go for the license after 5 months.
Promptly we made it to the RTO and took our tests after 5 months. We spent one full day in blazing sun to drive through that ‘8’ with our two-wheelers. We also took the written test and when the examiner told us we had passed, the joy was same as that of a little child having learnt to ride a brand new bicycle.
I have been riding for about 13 years now. I can’t even imagine being so active socially without knowing how to ride a two-wheeler. Today I am a member of 4 different ladies clubs. I have 2 groups for satsang and I am involved in 4 different kitty groups.
I use the two-wheeler to go grocery shopping, vegetable shopping, visit a doctor, pick up friends and family when required. It is all possible only because I know how to ride. I just cannot imagine my life now without the two-wheeler.
Images courtesy the author
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