I have just heard that we have recruited another ‘goonda’ to join our ride, and that prompted me to write something about my fellow riders and something about our history together.
With regards to the person joining us, rest of us would add the term ‘bhai’ after his name when addressing him. For any non-Indians reading this blog, ‘bhai’ means ‘brother’ and is generally used as a mark of respect to someone older than you. In this case the new rider is an older sibling of one of us. However, in the context of this group, the connotation of the word ‘bhai’ throws a very different meaning. Considering we identified ourselves as ‘goondas’ (albeit posh ones), in Mumbai’s street language the term ‘bhai’ means the big boss of ‘goondas’. 😀 😀 How very apt – we do seem to be transforming in to a structure goonda gang with Jatin’s elder brother, Kalpesh’bhai’ joining us.
Jatin, Rakesh and my association began when we all joined Vidyakunj School in Baroda, India some 36-37 years ago. We all came from East Africa (Jatin from Kenya, Rakesh and I from Tanzania) and like most of the East African Asians who moved their children to India following the expulsion of Asians in Uganda, we too ended up in Baroda and at Vidyakunj School. At the time, that was kind of de facto school for african asian brats. 😀 We all travelled to and from the school (in school bus first and then bicycles as we grew up ), studied in the same class all the way till class 12, and as a result of staying in the same locality, played and spent our leisure time together. Though we went separate ways once we joined universities, our interaction and friendship continued in one manner or other till to-date.
However, rather strangely, my first contact with anyone among the Posh Goondas was with the fourth member of our riding group, Kalpeshbhai. When we moved to India from Tanzania, I and my sister had to live with some family-friends in Baroda while my parents were based in a different town. At the time, Kalpeshbhai too had moved from Kenya on his own and was staying with the same family, and in the process all began our education in Baroda at the same school – Shreyas. We spent just under a year together until my parents moved to Baroda and we had our own place. I then moved to my preferred school and this is where I met Jatin. Funny enough Jatin and I started at Vidyakunj on the same day in the same class and both with African background. The difference was him with his long cool hairstyle (which earned him an instant welcome from one of the teachers) and me with rather military style short haircut. We became friends quickly but it was much much later that I found out that Kalpeshbhai was his older brother, and even later than that realised that we originate from the same native place, a small village called Bhadran, in Gujarat.
However, in the context of this ride, the remarkable thing for me is that my very first holiday without my family was a 3 week school trip to southern India with Kalpeshbhai, and the second such holiday to Nepal and north-east India in form of another 3 week school trip (but different school) was with his younger brother. And now after almost 30-35 years, each of us living in different parts of the world, we are suddenly making plans to ride together to another part of India. Whether this is fate, coincidence or just my nostalgia it does not matter, but it does help in adding a fascinating element to our ride.