Sunday, August 3, 2008

Tour de France - IV

The afternoon light was starting to wane by the time Suji returned from school. She gobbled a quick snack - “Aai …Pépito!” announced the television ad cartoon boy in sombrero and poncho, hawking the very same brand of chocolate coated cookies that she had eaten. She raced out to the elevator shouting “I’m going biking, Amma”. She punched the elevator buttons and losing patience, bounded down the stairs two at a time as the elevator groaned its way up.

The air was moist in the basement as she galloped down the dimly lit corridor with rows of cages bulging with children’s cycles, boxes, unused furniture. She opened the combination lock on the door and wheeled out her brand-new gleaming white bike – a girl’s model with an incongruous “Boy” sticker on the front. The niceties of gender reference didn’t matter to her - it was enough that she had a bicycle, that she knew how to ride it, learned with Appa huffing and puffing as he ran behind her one weekend ago.

That was a morning to remember- with the near fall from the bike as she realized in shock that she was sailing breezily on her own, Appa having let go of the seat, too exhausted to keep up. She was exhilarated by the free wheeling ride, skimming leafy-cool Bois de Boulogne’s wide roads, all sun-washed innocence by day, despite its unsavory reputation after dark.

She started circling around the courtyard’s square skylights marked with arrays of large glass dots, raised high enough to serve as seating for the occasional parent out to keep an eye on a playing child. There was no one else there today. “Good, I have this all to myself. Let me see, I’m now on the 3rd leg of the Tour de France. Faster, faster, I must overtake the cyclist ahead.” She sped up to overtake her imaginary competitor, snaking deftly around the skylight seats. “Time for the figure 8 maneuver practice, let me see how many uninterrupted 8’s I can make before I have to pause”. More fast and furious pedaling followed, weaving deftly around the skylights. “… 47, 48, 49, 50… Yay- a new World record, set by Mlle. Sujatha!!” bellowed the commentator in her head.
“Suji, time to come up for dinner!”,the kitchen window opened to let Amma’s call ring out. Obediently, Suji bounced her bike, down the steps to the garage exit and wheeled it back to the storage locker in the basement. The sunlight was almost gone in the stairwell as she hummed her way upstairs.


Lekhni said...

Were you listening to me yesterday morning? I was biking on a trail yesterday with friends and we were reminsicing about the first time we rode bikes :)

Sujatha said...

I do have ESP, which is how I knew ;)

Did you keep a lookout for any birds? (Oh dear, that might not be the best thing to do, like texting while walking, birdwatching is best done only when not ambulatory!)

gautham jeppu said...

I am looking for a grocery store anywhere in US where I can find a milk cooker. Haven t found one till now. Please let me know. My email is Thanks!

Sujatha said...


Sorry, can't help you out with milk cookers in the US. Mine was purchased from a store in Nangainallur, maybe you could try there when you next visit ;)

Sujatha said...

Another possibility is this double boiler with a whistle. It is closest in function to the way the Indian milk cooker works, but seems a bit expensive.

Ruchira Paul said...

Sujatha, hello from beautiful Brixen.

Nice to see that you also offer shopping tips for household items on F "n" S.

We spent much of Monday riding bikes on the lovely sud-Tyrolian terrain of the town. It's been a few months since I last rode my bike in Houston (too hot and humid). My bottom was sore for most of Tuesday.

I agree with you and Lekhni that our first unassisted bicycle ride is something most of us remember as a significant moment of freedom.

Sujatha said...

Hi Ruchira,

Glad to see you're enjoying your Italian getaway.

It took me a while to get the connection between Tour de France and milk cookers, but I did eventually figure it out! It's not the biking one, but the blogging one via Lekhni's rasagulla post.

Next time you need a shopping tip, feel free to contact me ;)