4 Oct 2013

Cycling Signs!

It’s 5.30 am and I’m standing in line at the New Delhi Railway Station security check-in, which even at this relatively early hour is snaking into 50 odd people, most of them tourists since the train stops at the travelers mecca, Agra. As I slowly inch forward, I happen to glance at the ceiling and am instantly transfixed at the sight of an installation high up on the wall. It’s a bicycle with dozens of brightly painted chai ki ketlees in egg yolk yellows, mossy greens, sapphire blues and poppy reds, all merrily strung up around its frame. With the middle tube adorning a wire rack of chai ki glassies, it’s the quintessential Indian Railways tea stall transplanted onto a regular aam admi cycleThe bicycle itself is a work of art with its frame painted military green, offset by a yellow coloured fork, its spokes and rims a psychedelic mix of red and yellow, sporting an all blue hub.

I am completely enamoured by this sublime work of art, which is a fitting rival to the Monalisa in my opinion! Kudos to the artist for its simple genius with the final flourish proclaiming chai garam splashed onto a big, bright yellow kettle. It’s a delightful start not only to the day but also my journey, which is on many levels since I am relocating after a period of five years, the longest that I have been in one place being an Army wife. Although life in a small town cantonment is diametrically opposite to that of the National Capital Region, change is something I am adept at, regardless of the end of the spectrum I find myself in. 

As I'm about to board the train, I realise there's still some time in hand and although there's a book in my handbag, the legacy of many a train journeys' pulls me towards the enticing fanned out glossy display of a book kiosk. I scan around for a magazine as the vendor hands me the latest issue of a health magazine. Hmm…while not my usual pick, why not I think, spurred on by the thought of the distinctly un-healthy veggie cutlets and French fries breakfast awaiting me on the Shatabdi! 

With the magazine tucked under my arm, I settle down in my seat and once the killer sweetness packed in a Frootie has been served, I pick up the magazine. There are the usual suspects, magical diets and tips on great abs, healthy recipes and size zero figures in leotards. As I flip through the glossy pages, I stop short at a picture of a woman cyclist. Sporting the happiest of smiles, astride a yellow mountain bike is a well known face in cycling circles, Malvika Jain, and I eagerly dive into the article about her amazing exploits.

This has to be a sign am thinking, not a mere coincidence. I mean, how else can it be explained...my spotting the bike installation at a platform I have walked through multitudes of times before, randomly picking up a magazine I generally never buy only to find a write up about a woman cyclist I know! And all this in the span of half an hour on a nondescript morning in June at the railway station!!

I read it as a sign telling me that whatever the circumstances, I must continue to follow my passion and pedal on. You see, ever since deciding to relocate to a small town, which even Google could not find, I'd been battling doubts over my ability to continue cycling, With very few known faces, absolutely none who were cyclists, no cycling support as in a local bike shop or anyone to ride with, I had been brooding. That morning of the signs turned things around for me as I got off the train brimming with anticipation and excitement over the immeasurable possibilities awaiting me. Inshallah!

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