When I was studying in PSG College of Arts and Science in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, India, one of our Bhutanese friends had a bicycle gifted to him by his brother who completed his studies from Kerala. It had become a Bhutanese pool-vehicle since everybody used to ride it whenever needed. We used to ride it to go out for shopping in the nearby market areas as well as to go to meet our friends living outside the campus. It was comfortable for two people. When the owner of the bicycle graduated in May 2004, he left the bicycle for us to use. I often used to go on ride with my friends who were experienced cyclists.
However in the absence of the rightful owner, the bicycle soon became a public property, used by everybody, both Bhutanese and Indian friends whenever required. As a result, there was no sense of ownership and whenever some maintenance was required, nobody showed interest to contribute or help carry out the repair. So one day, it was found that the brakes of the bicycle had broken down and nobody had even cared to take it to the workshop to fix it. Forget about initiating the efforts to do the repair, we did not even know who did it. Instead of collecting funds to fix the bicycle, people gradually stopped using it.
However one of my friends from the Indian State of Manipur named Anish had soon found a way to ride the bicycle without having to depend on brakes. He used to go on ride to the planned destination so that he would stop pedaling a few minutes before reaching the actual destination. That way, he was able to control the speed of the bicycle. But this was risky, because it was not possible to make sudden or unplanned stops on the way. The destinations had to be well planned in advance.
One day he wanted to take me on a ride and I was not confident about his plans. But he assured me that things will be just fine. So, I went with him to the nearest town and yes, it was a perfect ride. Since then we continued to use it to go out for shopping or to have something whenever we were free. But as expected, we had to discuss where to stop before starting the journey so that he would have enough time to slow down the bicycle by stopping pedaling little ahead of our planned destination. But we never dared to take it out into the main town or city because of the heavy traffic.
One day, probably in late 2004, we once again decided to ride to the nearby town to have some cool drinks and snacks as usual, and we were preparing to ride the bicycle in front of the hostel. First, my friend would get on to the seat and incline it towards the left to allow me to ride behind him. I sat on the rear seat and he started pedaling the bicycle. As we rode past the hostel, I realized that I had not sat right at the center and I was not feeling comfortable. So after finding a solid knot at the center of the spokes of the rear wheel to step on, I tried to lift myself up a bit and readjust my sitting position. But when I jumped up to shift my sitting position, I think I made a mistake in calculating the amount of energy I had required to do just that. As a result, I had shifted too far to the edge of the seat and I fell from the bicycle head-down. I screamed at my friend to stop the bicycle but there was no way he could stop it. My left leg was still stuck on the bicycle while my hands had landed on the ground. I even tried to walk with hands on the road to keep up with the pace of the bicycle but the bicycle was moving fast although my friend had stopped pedaling. I was literarily getting dragged. Fortunately, some Indian guys saw the incident and rushed out of the hostel to catch the bicycle from behind. But by the time they came to rescue, I had my palms already scratched. My friend could not help but laugh uncontrollably after we came to a stop. That was the funniest, yet a tragic cycling experience I had been through. Sometime later, we were once again riding to the local shopping area late in the evening and as we were riding through a dark spot, it seems my friend did not see the bumper ahead of us. As a result, we bumped heavily onto the speed-breaker in the dark and I was thrown right above my seat. When I landed back, I was flat on the road. The bicycle had sped away. I called out for my friend but he had no means to stop the bicycle. He had to continue to move for sometime without pedaling to stop the bicycle and come back to get me. That was equally funny. Both of us laughed our bellies out at the incident. Those are some of the little memories from my past which are worth cherishing. Anish was one of my best friends and we were neighbors in the hostel.