“I always tell people, ‘I have two batteries in my Bullet– and one is my Leela!’”
“In 2011, my wife, Leela, fractured her leg and I suffered a heart attack–we were both bedridden. My doctor warned me, ‘Don’t even think of driving your Bullet’; he knew I loved being on the road.
But when I started feeling better, I just couldn’t contain myself to 4 walls. I thought, ‘I’m not going to spend the rest of my life like an old man,’ I was just 67! I started off slow–I took out my 1974 bullet and started driving to nearby cities.
It felt good to be out, lekin Leela ke bina maza nahi aya. She was on a wheelchair, so she could no longer sit behind me on the Bullet like she used to. So, it struck me, ‘If I fix the bullet with a sidecar, Leela could travel comfortably!’
So, that’s what I did–we then started going on short trips together. In 2016, we planned our first elaborate trip; we broke our FD for it. Starting from Vadodara, we went through Maharashtra, Kerala, Goa, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu–we’d drive for 3 hours at a stretch and then take a break. Jaha rukne ka mann karta tha, waha ruk jaate the. And at night, we’d find a hotel to stop over.
Leela is my finance manager–our everyday budget is Rs.4000 and that includes food, stay and petrol. You know what–Leela has made a secret tijori in my Bullet; she won’t let me spend even a penny more!
And simply holding Leela’s hands whilst watching the sunset made life seem worth it. Dekhte hi dekhte 75 din ho gaye–when we returned back to Vadodara, we were already planning our next trip!
In Feb 2018, we took our second trip–this time, across the North East. On the way, all these young kids would stop us and ask, ‘Uncle aap theek toh ho na?’ and I’d retort, ‘Uncle kisko bola bey?’ I might be a senior citizen par dil toh abhi bhi jawaan hai!
Then, we made it a yearly thing. A few months later, when we were travelling down south, Leela fractured her ankle again. So, we had to spend a fortnight in the hospital; Leela underwent surgery there. But that didn’t deter her–with a cast on, she got into the sidecar and said, ‘Let’s go!’ You know, I always tell people, ‘I have two batteries in my Bullet– and one is my Leela!’
By early 2020, we had covered 30,000 kms on our road! This once, when Leela and I were driving together, someone yelled, ‘Jai aur Veeru aa gaye’; it felt amazing! Leela will always be my Veeru, and I want to live out the rest of my days with her by my side, the road ahead of us, the wind in our hair, and the roar of the Bullet under us.”
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