This is a guest post written by The Cyber Nag, who also happens to be our co-founder Vineet’s mom!
When we had bought our first car, a Maruti 800, he was all of seven. When I drove with the kids, his elder brother sat in the front and pretended to ‘navigate’ on the Delhi roads, chattering nineteen to a dozen, while he sat at the back and went completely silent. It was as if some invisible switch had been flipped to mute his voice.
A quick glance at the rear view mirror showed his face, all serious behind his huge spectacles, gazing out of the window. We tried to draw him into conversation, but beyond monosyllables, he wasn’t interested in talking. When his father drove, the same scenario unfolded, except that I sat with him at the back. He never took his eyes off the road and wouldn’t tell us what it was that interested him – so much so that he never uttered a single word if he could help it.
Then one day, we badgered him to find out what it was that he was watching so intently on the road to the exclusion of everything else. And then he told us – the air in the tyres of the vehicles ahead of us!
We burst out laughing. But we soon realised that it was not just air pressure that worried him.
‘Appa, what would happen if the axle breaks?’ he asked in all seriousness one day, as the L&M was trying to negotiate the traffic in Karol Bagh. It was by accident that he was at the wheel that day, because it was I who used to drive in the crowded parts of Delhi, as I was more comfortable driving in such localities. And if you have read this post, you would know how nervous the Delhi traffic made him.
So, when the kid asked him about axles breaking, the L&M broke into cold sweat and scolded him for asking such questions while he was driving. We could see that it had unnerved him more than he cared to admit, when the elder one piped up, ‘The car would disintegrate,’ or something to that effect. It was a wonder we all reached wherever we were going that day safely after the elder one’s pronouncement ?
We couldn’t have dreamt that roads and wheels were going to rule the little boy’s heart one day.
They say that every child has unique characteristics which set him apart from his siblings. In our home, it was completely true. The brothers were absolute contrasts of each other. The elder one loved school, homework and reading. The younger one disliked school, did homework only when threatened by his teachers (we never badgered him to do it, leaving it to him to complete it) and wouldn’t touch a book if he could help it. Extra reading? Forget it!
But they had one thing in common. The love of roads and riding/driving. Well, at least when they were young they needed to be driven around, but when they got their driving license, there was no stopping them.
Growing up, the elder one had a normal sports bike which he rode to school, crossing the Outer Ring Road in Delhi! He taught his kid brother to ride the bike. I guess the L&M was not so paranoid about the roads and traffic and all that yet.
When the younger fellow wanted his own bike, he insisted on an ATB. We argued that he wasn’t going to be riding anywhere other than normal roads and that too within the colony or in the campus of JNU, but to no avail. So we bought him the ATB and how he loved it! He cleaned and polished it and showered his love on it.
But there was a small setback to his riding. He had some ligament problem in his knees which needed a cast – one after another for several weeks. Soon they came off and he ran to his bike, abandoned but lovingly cared for by him even when he couldn’t ride it.
When his school announced a cycle trip – a round trip to Faridabad from Vasant Kunj, a distance of nearly 70 kms, he went to his ortho and got his permission to ride. The school had provided vehicles to accompany the kids so that if any one of them couldn’t continue, they could ride in those.
The kid went ahead and completed the trip even while much fitter boys and girls gave up en route!
I should have known then that this was not just a whim or resolve on his part, but a lifelong passion – alas, I didn’t.
That he and roads are lifelong companions also became apparent when he, along with his father, had gone on a road trip with just a learner’s license. They had just taken the car out for a drive on the highway – a Ford Ikon – and continued on and on…to Jaipur and then onward. They had gone all the way to Ajmer before turning back. His first drive on the road and a highway at that! What was more, when it began raining hard and the road was barely visible, the L&M gave the wheel to him and he drove – hunched over the wheel, peering into the gloom and rain for over 50 kms!
Talk of unplanned drives! No wonder he still loves to go off the highway into state roads and tracks while biking, for one never knows what one can discover at such unscheduled routes and stops.
He rode a Scooty for two years in high school as only gearless vehicles were allowed for youngsters his age. But he had eyes firmly on the TVS Shogun, which his brother had got when he went to college. The bike was a big rage in those days – mainly for the awful noise it made which is inexplicably music to the ears of the teens. He finally inherited it from his elder brother in first year of engineering college, as the latter had moved on to a car. The kid was in seventh heaven. For, didn’t it herald his arrival and departure from the campus of his college in Bangalore in thousands of decibels? He felt like a prince, no less!
When the Shogun developed frequent problems, we bought him a Pulsar, another coveted bike of those days. But can you believe that the brat missed the noise and clatter the old Shogun used to make?
He briefly drove a car but it went when he chucked his corporate job. And do you know what he did with all his savings – and I really mean – to his last paisa? He bought a Royal Enfield! He called up to tell us that he was going on a ride to Hyderabad and I was concerned. He assured me that there were two more riders and they would ride safe.
Imagine my consternation when I found out later that he had gone solo – his first long distance ride on a Bullet and alone! I later also found out that it was just 3 days after an accident on the same bike and he had ridden with bandages all over! I had made him promise then that he would never do it again – not without telling us, that is, for I knew he would continue to ride solo no matter if I liked it or not. So like a wise mother, I asked to be informed, not to stop him but at least to know where he was.
It was then that he found the brotherhood of bikers. With that comforting circle around him, I had even begun relaxing a bit. The boys were all caring and protective of each other.
The day I met his biker brother Deepak, my instincts really dug in for the first time in my life. I knew in my bones that this pair was going to be doing something together one day and that would be connected to roads and wheels.
When he met his life partner – Swati, he was thrilled to find that she loved riding as much as he did! It is a sight to see the couple go on their long rides – togged up as if for battle, a blissful look on their young faces, in love with the roads and each other!
It took a few years, but my instincts have come true. The biker brothers turned their passion into a start-up and soon ScoutMyTrip was born. I think I should trust my instincts more!
Recently when ScoutMyTrip organised a road trip to Ladakh to host the Highest Blogger Meet with a team of 20 bloggers, I am sure all the watching of the vehicles on the road and worrying about axles breaking by the Brat all those years ago, came in handy on the perilous roads of the mountains. You are one of the best scouts one could hope for, Vineet!
As they go road-tripping, scouting the roads, burning rubber and making memories by the kilometers, here’s wishing the little boy-turned-entrepreneur and his colleagues at ScoutMy Trip all the very best in their venture. But the most important word of appreciation goes to the daughter Swati, who has gone that extra mile to enthusiastically support him in his endeavour.
Way to go Team ScoutMyTrip!
About the Author – The Cyber Nag
The Cyber Nag is co-founder Vineet’s mom. Vineet’s brother Vikram gave her the title of Cyber Mom when she began nagging him through emails while he was in college. The rest of the family also complained that she nagged. But she couldn’t help it; it is part of her. Then Vineet came home on a holiday from college once and had a brainwave. Vineet started a blog for her so that she could go online and nag the world at large! When asked to give a name to the blog, she didn’t have to think twice – and so Cyber Nag was born.
Did this post inspire to hit the road right away? It did? Go ahead, plan a road trip anywhere in India and go #AageSeRight!