11. The Evolution of Transport

In the early years of the Auckland Centre, our methods of transportation closely paralleled the ambulatory history of mankind – we walked, bicycled, bussed, motorbiked, then made the quantum leap to our own Centre car, an evolution that caused much excitement despite the antiquity of our second-hand purchase. In the post-pedal bicycle era and the dawning reign of the motorbikes, we called ourselves “Chinmoy’s Angels,” and half the Centre zoomed about on a fleet of dilapidated machines until eventually we acquired the unimaginable, our first car.

Subarata had a newish bike, the “Nifty-Fifty,” pride of the fleet, and she and our lifetime friend Vyakulata shared its use. Vyakulata was the greatest posterer we have ever had or known – she would sit meditating on the Nifty-Fifty for about five minutes before a day-long foray into the city, and we would hear the little bike put-puttering slowly away up the hilly roads as she disappeared for an entire day of class fliering.

Sometimes on Centre nights we would have a clutch of motorbikes parked outside as though for a bikers’ convention – an odd spectacle for our conservative neighbours, who lined their windows in disbelief, marvelling at the sari and white-clad riders, the strange goings-on.

Subarata liked the motorbike, the sense of freedom, its hint of reckless adventure, the illusion of speed – although even in full flight the Nifty-Fifty could only manage about 70 km per hour, every nut and rivet straining. Once I sat on the back as a passenger while she sped up and down our street – when  I tickled her ribs, she drove into the curb and we both fell off. Later the motorcar crept into our lives – one, then several – and we ventured far afield for Joy Weekends to coastal towns and beaches hours away. Our procession of old cars looked like a vintage car rally.