My earliest memories of a motorcycle are from when I was so small that I probably oughtn't even remember this. I'd sit on the dining table at home, with a clear view out the front door, watching and listening, waiting for the silence of a sleepy Bangalore dusk to be disturbed by the dull yet penetrating sound of my Dad's Rajdoot 175. But in my Dad's hands (sorry Pa), the Rajdoot was merely a commuter. It took my uncle's skilled motorcycling to transform that commuter into one heck of a bike. The man was magic with machines, and I remember sitting behind him, plump little arms clasped across his waist, legs still too short to reach the rear footpegs, hanging on for dear life as he got his knee down, corner after corner on our ride from home to wherever else we were going. He'd even do that when riding a Luna. To be honest summer holidays weren't summer holidays unless I was hanging on, grin plastered across my face, two pigtails flying in the wind as he wrung the throttle and gave it all he'd got.
My uncle had tried his hand at dirt track racing, motocross and all that. He'd even done some stunting on motorcycles. At least I assume it was that, because somewhere, in some family album, I have seen a photograph of him jumping a Yezdi off a ramp, the bike midair, a good five feet clear of the ground. But it was him on the Rajdoot that stands out the most distinctly in my head, probably because of the sheer transformation the bike underwent with him at the handlebars.
A few years ago though, after having the bike in my family for 23 years, father dearest gave it away (he'd been advised to give up riding following a somewhat serious ankle surgery). I still can't believe he gave it away, but to cut the long rant, that is threatening to burst forth, short, all attempts to track down the bike met with deadends. It'd been sent to the scrap heap is all we finally managed to find out.
Then my uncle passed on, far too early.
I miss both. Perhaps in different ways and to different degrees, but miss them, I certainly do. I never got to ride the Rajdoot, with my uncle looking on, and giving me tips, and I never got to get him to teach me how to get my knee down on that, or any other bike. What I am determined to do though, is get myself a Rajdoot, somehow, from somewhere. And I'll make it my way, unconventional, to match the personality of one heck of a man. I've zeroed in on the perfect chap to help me build this bike, he's even said he'll only work on it when I'm around, so that I can be as much a part of the process as I want to be. Of course, there's still the bike itself that I need to find. What I do know is the bike will have a name, it will be named after my uncle. And believe it or not, his name was Raju (short for Rajeev). Raju getting his knee down on a Rajdoot. The very thought makes me smile, every time.