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