For the past two months I’ve been eyeing a Chinese look-alike of a Kinetic Honda scooter put up for sale by the owner of a swank leather showroom at Jinnah Super. He brought it all the way from China for his kid who refused to ride it and ever since the black electric scooter has been stylishly parked between racks of bright red and electric blue leather bags.
The salesman was happy when I made inquiries. “It can go up to 7 km,” he said.
I sulked. Even if Islamabad is half the size of a New York cemetery, as an American diplomat once famously remarked, I wouldn’t be able to traverse God’s acre without recharging the scooty battery at least once, I said to myself.
But the thought of riding the scooty on the unpolluted and smooth-as-butter roads of Islamabad was tempting. Okay, so maybe I could go over to friends, recharge the battery, and then ride back home, I sold the idea to myself.
Seeing my enthusiasm, the salesman slashed the price 20 per cent. I was ecstatic. The salesman was not in a mood to give up on me either. He shoved his card in my hand and took my number, promising to lower the price even further.
If 7 km was not bad enough, I wondered how much I would stand out on the roads where even men don’t ride scooters (except for the odd blue Vespa we see once in a blue moon), women don’t sit pillion – and definitely not cross-legged. I also tried to dismiss simultaneous thoughts of creating a scene on the road as and when one of our shadows decided to tail me on a red Yamaha.
It didn’t take long for my husband and friends to shoot down the idea. “Just 7 km?” or “It’s Chinese – it’ll fall apart before you know it!” That evening I ignored the call from the salesman.
Some years ago, I was a proud owner of a Kinetic Honda scooter. I rode it all over Delhi, sometimes even at 2 am after my weekly night shift, racing a senior colleague who lived in my neighbourhood. The colleague would let me show off my skills and graciously slow down to let me win.
The routine continued for about a year, with me giving rides to everyone in office, including my editor, and then my scooty was stolen and like everyone else, I decided to upgrade to a four-wheeler. But I missed my scooter and the sense of freedom that it gave me.
I was at Jinnah Super market again three days ago and saw the scooty still parked within the shop. I walked in and said, “Not sold yet?” A middle-aged looking salesman smiled: “Yeh aap hi ka intizaar kar rahee hai.” I smiled back, “But 7 km is too less.”
The salesman’s reply froze me, “Not 7, it can go up to 41 km. If you want you can take a test ride.” I took his number and stepped out. I have been postponing the call to him ever since.