During my childhood, riding a bicycle and climbing trees was a daily recreation for us. Climbing trees came naturally to me and for riding a bicycle I went through various stages of learning. I used to run with the bicycle and then jump on to one pedal to learn balancing as the bicycle is freewheeling and a little later I learnt to ride a kid’s bicycle. When it came to regular size bicycle I was not able to mount on to the seat so there was a method called “Kainchi (Scissor)” by which I was able to enjoy bicycle rides. “Kainchi” is not a very comfortable way of riding a bicycle but was popular those days among children as they cannot reach the seat. It involves pedaling the cycle by resting the left leg on left pedal and the right leg from under the crossbar/top tube on the right pedal and cycling with entire body weight distributed on limbs with no place to sit! This was until I grew tall to mount the bicycle.
When it came to climbing trees, as I said before, it came naturally to me. There were sixteen huge trees in our house where I grew up. We had Mango trees, Guava trees, Neem trees and a Black plum tree on which I knew how to reach any part of a tree to pluck fruits or to play “Jaad Ka Bandhar”. Apart from this we had two Lemon trees and one Narinja tree which we could not climb due to thorns on the trees and two coconut trees which we cannot climb without the help of a rope. And there were another six trees in front of our house, outside our compound.
“Jaad Ka Bandhar” is the name of the game we played on these trees. In this game; all the players collect near a small circle drawn amidst the trees with a stick at the center. A seeker is selected by a draw and then the stick is picked by one of the other players and thrown far away. The seeker will have to run, pickup the stick and put it back in the circle. In the meantime the other players have to climb on to the trees. The seeker will then try to catch one of them to make him a seeker, he may have to climb a tree to do this, jump up to reach someone on the branches or wait and catch the other players who are constantly trying to reach the stick in the circle. If the seeker is successful in catching one of the other players, that player will become the next seeker and if one of the players on the trees manages to touch the stick the seeker once again becomes a seeker. It is just like Hide-and-seek but with a difference, involving tree climbing and jumping from trees. Even my sister was very good at climbing trees and doing some gymnastics on the branches! However she could not learn to ride a bicycle! And my wife learnt to ride a bicycle but not climbing trees! So when it comes to my family, my childhood adage – “If you can’t ride a bicycle and climb trees you are not a boy!”, still holds good!!