There were few of us buddies who carried over ourselves to collage from high school just like we continued carrying over our subject exams based on semester methods.
Madhava Murthy aka Maadhu, Venkatesh ( my cousin), Umesh , Anantha were all part and parcel of this growing up business.
Getting a Cycle was just ruled out in those Indira Gandhi, Ramakrishna Hegde days. We all settled for the trusted Hero No1 cycles. Mostly they were handed down from generation ensuring we remembered to curse them for each break down.
Since my father worked for Bangalore Transport Company, those days and he had vowed not to bicycle a single rotation, as he was free to travel on the buses – I was spared of this logic.
Due to my constant bickering, mother finally used carrot and stick policy to get my new cycle. “You will have to stop wasting time with those useless friends of yours and concentrate on studies” – the order was passed and I humbly nodded in agreement. The logic was i would have more spare time if I quickly cycled to collage.
Off myself, Venkatesh (cousin cum consultant) and mother went to Raja cycle mart in JC road. Having already concluded that I need to purchase something different from the old hero, BSA SLR the new vroom bike as advertised by Kapil Dev was selected. The price was a princely 710 Rupees without any accessories.
There were lots of lecture from my uncle and cousin on the upkeep of the cycle, which is another story by itself.
One day as we were playing caroms, sudeendra our umeshs younger brother came in and said “Anna – mother wants you to go to Lalbagh and get those free saplings they are distributing” and ran away. As madhavs mother also wanted a couple of saplings, we decided to go cycling to lalbagh to get those free of cost.
Roads of bangalore were a beauty those days. There were nothing called traffic jams, No pollution or honking and in 35 minutes we were in the west gate entrance near National Collage. We all dismounted and parked our cycles. Much to the others chagrin I decided to keep watch on my lovely new cycle lest somebody scratch or worse steel it.
After another wait of 45 minutes they were back from the nursery. Each had 2 saplings of mango, coconut as that was the only stock available. Uneventfully we made our way back to homes.
I had just had my favorite Tomato sambhar and literally lay down to read the Deccan herald. It was past 2.30 PM when the familiar sound of umesh cycle was heard.
It was sudeendra enquiring about me.
He just walked in to see me sprawled reading Deccan herald. He asked “Nothing has happened to you?”.
I was amused at his question and asked him “what should happen to me?”.
Sudeendra then broke the news. It seems maadhu and umesh whilst in the lalbagh had found “badam nuts” and consumed them. Just 45 minutes back they both had started vomiting and were taken to Doctor. The good doctor got them admitted in the near by Bharathi Nursing home for safety and kept them under observation.
They had eaten some poisonous variety of a look alike and hence his mother had sent him out to check out where I was hospitalized.
In the course of next couple of days both of them got back to their normal selves while I was more thankful to my BSA SLR, which had saved me this ordeal. Till date none of them have tasted even the real badam!