Chapter 3: The Fall
Baker Street. Did you just think of 221 B? So did I. And guess what I found?
Yep, only ‘221 B’ was missing from the name.
Despite being extremely hungry, we spent about fifteen minutes deciding what to eat, being spoilt for choice. Even then, the pancakes C. was craving for were absent. We settled for a variety of sandwiches, along with custard cake and mushroom Quiche. To put it simply, it was delicious. We were so full by the end of it, and keep in mind that me feeling full is no ordinary occurrence. Thanks to S.’s ritualistic habit of capturing every single dish on the table, we now have pictures to look at and sigh wistfully.
Once breakfast was done, and we were done being self-obsessed (taking pictures of ourselves, I mean), we headed to Mission Street, where we were to rent bicycles from. It turned out to be a very long road, and we walked for quite a bit before we reached the place we were looking for. But as luck would have it, they had only one bicycle. ONE.
Apparently, there was only a single shop that rented bicycles in the area, contrary to what we’d been expecting. The plump old woman and a younger man who seemed to be the owners told us sympathetically that the rental of motor bikes was prohibited on weekends, and consequently, they’d run out of bicycles in the morning itself. We sure were a lucky bunch, weren’t we?
About fifteen minutes later, one more bicycle turned up. S. and I rented that and the one from before, and rode them around the place to find out other rental stores. The only thing that came out of that little detour was my realization that there was no way that C., who hadn’t been on a bicycle since third grade, would be able to ride one in such heavy traffic.
By the time S. and I got back, a third bicycle was being fixed up for our use. Now, they did have other cycles, but they were of the taller variety that men rode. S. and P., who are both taller than me, gave them a try and failed, since their feet barely touched the ground. I didn’t even stand a chance.
Finally, an hour after we’d reached the shop, we decided to take just the three bicycles. P. volunteered to take C. behind her, but failed miserably to balance the vehicle. S. gave it a shot next, and succeeded.
All was good, except for the fact that we didn’t have much of an idea about where exactly to go. We figured that we could head in the general direction of the beach and find a good place for lunch. And so we rode merrily through the quaint streets, passing old French style homes. Of course, we were sweating like pigs, given that the 12’o clock sun was blazing above us.
At some point, P. and I overtook S. I kind of had no option, given that my bicycle had bad brakes (and no bell). A car passed us in the opposite direction, and right after it disappeared from my view, I heard it run into the gravel on the sidewalk. Suddenly there was a loud, painful, female cry. I pulled the brakes and turned around immediately, dreading that the car had hit S. and C. But thankfully, the car was nowhere near them. S. and C. however, were sprawled on the ground. S. was crying out loud, trying to catch someone’s attention, so that they’d help her up. By the time I reached them, a few men had crossed the road to lift the vehicle and help them up.
C. was unhurt, but S. had badly bruised both her elbows and a knee. On top of that, the strap of her sandals was also damaged. The men who’d helped them left soon, after suggesting that we head to the general hospital nearby. C. sat down on the pavement to compose herself, and drank some water. P. was trying to fix S.’s sandals, telling her that there was no need to buy a new pair right now. I was just standing there, musing that this trip was turning out to be quite an eventful one. S. stood with her injured elbows held straight, and exclaimed, “Oh my God. These scars won’t go! What do I do now?!”
I raised my eyebrows and grinned. She was alright.
Meanwhile, an old lady appeared from inside the building in front of which we were standing, after hearing the ruckus we’d created. She initially advised us to the go the hospital, but after S. asserted that there was no need for that, she invited us inside. The first thing we noticed when we entered was an antique, big, machine. I didn’t find out what exactly the machine did, but we later learnt that they were an enterprise that created and sold paper craft products. The lady led us into an open hall, and gave us a first aid kit. S. sat down on a stool and P. immediately started working on her wounds, being a self-proclaimed first-aid expert (having treated herself in the past). C. stood nearby, apologizing profusely for causing the fall, and offering her hand for S. to hold in order to reduce the pain caused by the medicine. S. waved away her apologies (although we all knew that she would probably hang it over C.’s head for the rest of her life) and refused to hold her hand (which she reconsidered when P. actually began applying the medicine). Me being completely inexperienced in both getting hurt and treating hurt people, took a seat at a safe distance and watched. We all agreed that S. was quite a strong girl, bearing the pain and still joking about it.
Once we were done with dressing S.’s wounds and taking pictures of the wounded girl (duh!), we started conversing with the old lady, and a younger one that had entered later. They spoke to us about their work and products, and offered to open their showroom for us. We agreed, and looked around for a while at handmade paper folders, bookmarks, photo frames and the like. Cute stuff, in fact. Figuring that buying something would be the polite thing to do, since they’d help us, I got what I thought was a purple frog shaped bookmark (which turned out to be a clip, but what the hell), and P. got a photo frame with a monkey on it (she wanted to put a picture of S. in it).
By then, S. and C. were both well rested, and we decided to head outside. We asked the older lady suggestions for places to eat, and she recommended a restaurant that sold cheap Dosas and Idlis. Ha. South Indian cuisine from Pondicherry? No thank you, ma’am. So we cheerfully waved good bye to both of them and left.
S. and I exchanged bicycles, mine being more suitable for a wounded person, and C. had to resort to taking an auto rickshaw. She got into the auto first, and the rest of us followed the vehicle.
Where were we going? To Le Dupleix it was.
Stay tuned for more.