Hell­hound

Bike India - - FEATURE -

HE YEAR IS 2007 AND I have, af­ter much pes­ter­ing, con­vinced my dad to al­low me to ditch the hand-me-down “fam­ily scooter” Ki­netic Honda that has been my con­veyance for the last three years for a new ride of my very own. The oc­ca­sion? At the ripe old age of 19 I was fi­nally get­ting my “two-wheeler — with gear” (an im­por­tant dis­tinc­tion, mind) li­cence and I, with the ar­ro­gance that only teenage years can in­spire, be­lieved I de­served a pair of wheels to com­mem­o­rate that oc­ca­sion.

The bike I de­sired with ev­ery fi­bre of my be­ing, the ob­ject of so many hazy day-dreams when I lay in bed, thoughts flow­ing down that mag­i­cal river that trans­ports you from half-con­scious delir­ium to the wait­ing arms of deep slum­ber, was, of course, the Pul­sar 220 DTS-Fi. It was the new­est speed de­mon on the block, the one cre­at­ing all the buzz, with whis­pers in the quiet cor­ri­dors of two-wheeler en­thu­si­asts tout­ing it as the fastest masspro­duced In­dian bike out there. Of course, this wasn’t say­ing a lot back then, be­cause it pro­duced only 20 horses and 19 Nm of twist. But that was more than enough for the wideeyed 19-year-old me. Dad tried to throw a span­ner in the works, try­ing to bait and switch into the Avenger 220 at the last minute, so that he could “bor­row it from time to time” be­cause, be­ing a lit­tle shorter than I am, his legs weren’t quite com­pletely planted on the Pul­sar. A drawn-out ar­gu­ment and an ap­peal to mom’s good na­ture it was done, the book­ing had been made, and I was get­ting my Pul­sar!

Af­ter nearly a month’s ea­ger an­tic­i­pa­tion (yes, there was a wait­list for the 220), I fi­nally col­lected her. There she was, re­splen­dent in black, just wait­ing for me to swing a leg over. The rush of ex­hil­a­ra­tion that came with ev­ery twist of the throt­tle (yay for fuel in­jec­tion!), that lit­tle heart-in-mouth mo­ment ev­ery time the disc brakes (an­other then-novel ex­pe­ri­ence) en­gaged and brought the bike to a near-in­stant halt, and the looks of ad­mi­ra­tion and envy I got ev­ery time I pulled up into the col­lege park­ing lot made for a heady, in­tox­i­cat­ing com­bi­na­tion. I was in love. Truly, madly, deeply, hope­lessly in love. And I haven’t even talked about her looks yet. That lit­tle fair­ing, the Du­cati-in­spired ver­ti­cal stacked head­lamp assem­bly, and the sharp fair­ing-mounted fold-out rear-view mir­rors… ev­ery time I looked at her, I just fell deeper and deeper un­der her spell.

The Pul­sar was my part­ner in crime for all my bike-based ad­ven­tures. From my first road trip — Pune to Lon­avala, in case you were won­der­ing — to my first-ever spill, col­lege com­mutes, gro­cery runs, cof­fee dates, you name it.

To­day, she lies gath­er­ing dust in my park­ing lot, a litany of long-ter­m­ers and a per­sis­tent starter re­lay is­sue that has flum­moxed the Bajaj deal­er­ship both con­tribut­ing to her tem­po­rary re­tire­ment. Ev­ery time I use the garage, though, I find my­self look­ing wist­fully in her di­rec­tion and can’t help but sport a rue­ful smile on my face. One day soon I’ll get down to brass tacks, res­ur­rect the 220, and we shall ride again.

— Har­ket Suchde

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