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Scoot over!

Scoot over!
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Ask a scooter enthusiast what it means to ride a scooter and the first question you shall be asked would be, ‘Are you talking about the scooter or the scooterette?’ If you say both, then consider yourself ill-fated because the avid scooterist would not care to talk about anything which is not manually operated. But if you would say a scooter, be ready for a long talk.  

Scooters never vanished only the people did. Somehow, somewhere hordes of people who so ardently had been riding a Vespa or a Lambretta decided that their calling was a motorcycle.

Scooters were evidently parked, their once cracking engines fell silent. Even the bold curves with ample colour, the classic design and the feel of the hand fiddling with the gear lever could not bring back the love and affection. They were left to rust, their seat upholsteries torn and withered. But all was not over as there still were few for whom riding a classic machine meant more than anything else on earth. For them the scooter still evoked sentiments of a happy family riding when cars were not so common. And thus the hunt began to wade through scrap and bring to life that which had long been forgotten.

Delhi is proud to have a club which boasts of aficionados of the long forgotten art of scootering. Capital Scootering Club (CSC), with its modest background silently wants to promote the art that has long become history. And thus on the last Sunday of August, a one of its kind rally flagged off from the precincts of Khan Market to the original Kake-di-Hatti in the walled city. A staggering 25 riders rode together, perhaps the most in any scooter congregation in India. The sheer expanse of the club could be gauged from the fact that scooters as old as the 1952 D model Lambretta and as new as the 2013 LS model NV from LML rode together. The ride which began at half past seven had one thing in common; all scooters had gear changing levers because the art of scootering is not about futuristic machines which switch gears on their own, it instead is about the happy sound that comes when the manual transmission produces a sound akin to a cricket ball making contact with the sweet part of the bat.

So who are the brains behind the Capital Scootering Club? A tête-à-tête revealed that the club is run by four founding members who previously rode together for the Delhi Scooter Club. While Hemant Chandiram and Mohnish Kanojia are the technical brains, Shivank and Shubham Sharma are PR and communication experts. What sets apart CSC is its approach towards its riders. Everybody who loves to ride a geared scooter is invited. There is absolutely no inequity between a mechanic or a top corporate guy, for the club wants to see more and more riders to come together.

Hemant Chandiram, the senior most of the founder members says, ‘I own three scooters. The first scooter that I bought was the Vespa 150 VBB which originally was launched in 1960. There after I invested in two more scooters, the 1975 Lambretta GP 200 and the small frame 1983 Vespa PK125S. All my scooters are in excellent condition and I derive the maximum encouragement from my father’s words who told me that there was nothing better than a Vespa in the 60’s.’

The club which offers all technical and restoration help including, denting, painting and engine overhauls for beleaguered as well as new scooters is now followed by close to 500 people on Facebook.

Shubham and Shivank Sharma who have scooted enough to find extremely rare spare parts which are almost unavailable now say in unison, ‘Many a times we have to cast spare parts from locally available material as it is quite an onerous task to find them in the open market. To bring a defunct scooter back to life is time taking and requires some serious effort and patience.’ As the youngest members of the club, both of them own five and two scooters respectively. While Shubham proudly shows off his Vespa T5, the sportiest scooter ever made, Shivank’s gleaming blue and chrome Vespa PX is hard to take eyes off!

Working on a no-profit-no-gain formula, the Club has its own mechanics which are paid for by the founding members. No membership fee is charged from anyone and the restoration and technical assistance is also provided free of cost. Mohnish Kanojia who is known for his technical savoir faire says, ‘We function on the 3R model. The three R’s stand for Rescue, Restore and Ride.  If people think that restoring scooters for us is a self indulgent hobby, they are wrong. We are serious about what we do and most of our riders use their restored scooters for every day commuting.’
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