Bikers are a funny sort. They do things that only they are perhaps capable of comprehending and say things that would embarrass normal people no end. There was this chap who just got married (and he was still in his wedding regalia with yellow sacred race on him along with garlands with his wife also still in wedding regalia and they were married for a few minutes only) and promptly introduced his new bride as his “second” wife. There was shock and horror on the face of the poor girl and her proud father who seemed to think that they were cheated into getting into a matrimonial alliance with a feller who was already married once!!!! But his biker buddies to whom he introduced his new bride thus were not in any state of confusion; they knew perfectly what he meant. The chap who was among the first in the group of friends to be going the marriage way was reassuring everyone else that he remained committed to his first wife which happened to be a Yamaha RX-100. But the brand new father in law did not know and looked fairly panic stricken.
One of the chappies in the group of friends decided to up the ante by spicing up the story. He said that before the now newly married guy acquired his first wife he had a mistress who happened to be his maternal uncle’s first wife!!!!!! Right at the time when the new bride had decided to take off the garlands and throw them to the ground for marrying into such a crooked and immoral family, good sense prevailed in the bikers gang and another offered to explain not only the fact that the first wife was an RX-100 but also the fact that his mistress who was also the uncle’s first wife was a Jawa 250 motorcycle of the 1959 vintage. This revelation brought palpable relief to the faces and tormented souls of the new bride, her father and her family. And now it also brings us to the main course; the content of this article which is all about the Jawa/Yezdi legend and folklore.
Rewind to the time prior to the 1980s, actually the mid-point of that decade. Owning even a two wheeler, let alone a car was not possible for everyone. There were three scooters to choose from: the Bajaj 150, the Lambretta from Automotive Products of India and the Vijai Super (it started life as the Vijai Deluxe). (The last named was also a Lambretta; Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s government bought out the entire plant of the defunct Innocenti Scooters of Italy along with the designs that the company had. That new entity was called Scooters India and went on to produce Vijai scooters for the victorious hockey team that had just won the World Hockey Championship in 1975 under the captaincy of Ajit Pal Singh. The story is that the scooter was thus named to signify the victory of the Indian Hockey team at the highest level). In the motorcycle segment too there were three to choose from; the Enfield Bullet (350cc four stroke), the Jawa (250cc two stroke with two exhaust ports in one cylinder-this bike later on became the Yezdi) and the Rajdoot (175cc two stroke) which was actually based on a DKW motorcycle from the 1920s. The Bullet was probably a year or two younger in its vintage as was the Jawa. The three motorcycles tell us three different stories.
First, the Rajdoot. The Rajdoot was made in India by Escorts Ltd who then sold their business to Yamaha who then like the American forces in Abbotabad quietly took the Rajdoot to some remote corner of Uttar Pradesh and gave it a quiet and quick burial so that no one would ever remember it and pay homage to it in the future. So the Rajdoot died a death about which we have no clue. Then, the Bullet. While the Japs and the Chinese believe in reverse engineering, we Indians went in another direction called reverse purchasing. What was actually Enfield India went on to assume the mantle of the original company which was a British relic and became Royal Enfield Motors and continues to produce Bullets like Godzilla its “little” off spring or the Signourney Weaver tormenting Alien that not only refuses to die but continues to procreate. The Bullet has old faithfuls who will follow it to the depths of hell if required. The third, the Jawa/Yezdi has been retired to graze the pastures peacefully and there are those good old yeomen who continue to service and look after the heavy horse that once served them loyally, faithfully and reliably.
One such pasture is Mangalore in Karnataka where this year the International Jawa Day was celebrated on the 10th of July, 2011. To most people Mangalore is the poor country cousin of Bangalore, but that is not true. Mangalore has its own proud heritage and has its own community of automobile afficionados who love and look after their automobiles with the same passion and pride that automobile afficionados in other parts of the country and world do.
Mr. Sudhir Bhandarkar an enthusiast and a member of the said community had this to say about the event to Riot Engine. “International Jawa Day was celebrated at Mangalore today the 10th of July 2011.It was a fun-filled get together of 12 Jawa and 22 Yezdi bikes.Led from the front by Shawn Fernandez and Arun Shiri, the club members started assembling from 3 PM. By 4 PM, which was the starting time, there were 25 bikes.
Remainder trickled in within next hour. We went on a ride around the city starting 5:30 PM. Traffic police were of immense help; we were escorted by two police bikes leading the way and two police jeeps following the entourage”. He further added, “There were 12 Jawa and 22 Yezdi bikes at the show. Oldest owner (incidentally with the oldest bike as well) was Mr A P Bhat (69 yrs of age with his 1964 Jawa). Other old model Jawas belonged to Deepak Rao (1965; inherited his father’s Jawa) and Henry, a renowned Yezdi mechanic (1967 model)”.
Mr. Shawn Fernandez whose name you find mentioned by Mr. Bhandarkar wrote his feelings in his blog which is titled “Enigmatic Ravings” (www.enigmaticravings.blogspot.com).
What words!!! The Jawa/Yezdi is indeed a Forever Bike. The Indian Ideal Jawa factory is closed, this model of bikes are no longer made even by the original Jawa Company but owners and their progeny ensure that the bikes remain in running condition and use them proudly. Some of the owners are gone but the bikes are still there; a legacy cherished by the members of the family who continue to maintain the family heirloom. This is a romance of epic proportions and love story that far exceeds the intensity of Romeo & Juliet, Laila & Majnu and any other that you can think of.
Our most sincere thanks to Mr. Sudhir Bhandarkar and to Mr. Shawn Fernandez for the information and the link to Mr. Fernandez’s blog. Keep up the great work people, it is people like you who make the difference to an automobile that is now out of production. You are preserving a heritage and a piece of history for posterity. And paraphrasing AC/DC’s lyric we say “For those who really rock, we Salute You”.