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Well, a sort of pic you least expect to find out here, right?

This is REC Calicut.

This place is a strange one. this is a college, where we spent 4 eventful years. A sort of hotel california; I know many people who have checked out but has never really left. Walk around this place and you can see them; can hear them. A place so filled up with memories, you take a turn and see someone just because all those four years you got so used to taking that turn and bumping into him. Once out here, your memories take over and it need not be reality that you always end up seeing.

Well out here a long time back - 1998 - it was night and im sitting around idle without much to do other than an occassional - read every 5 min - trip to this place:

Now this is the MC - Mini Canteen. You get everything from tea to smoke to omelettes to noodles to cakes. It runs from early morning to 3pm.

I run into good ol george. Apparently he has had enough of MC trips and wants to do something different. We settle for a movie in town; Problem. Transportation issues; We dont wanna go by bus. Now this is when this Suzuki comes into the picture.

Yeah the solution lies in the form of a shaolin, owned by a Junior, Rony. The Shaolin has just been launched and there is a lot of hype abt it; Other than my old experience with a shogun i still am more or less ignorant abt bikes. But i have been told that shaolin is a 5 speed, more cc-ed version of the shogun. A 138.2cc machine putting out 11.8bhp, it was a TVS attempt at creating a more 'practical' version of the shogun, as far as the mileage-consious market was concerned.

The bike never sold much; But much later on, as the drag racing scene built up solidly in india, the bike was put to devastating use by the TVS factory racing team - Blowing away heavily modified 350cc RDs, the TVS factory shaolin used to set quarter mile times in the low 13s. Astonishing for a machine of its capacity. No different was the story in motorcross/rally departments. Even though the stock bike hardly made an impact anywhere, the shaolin turned out to have tremendous potential as a competition machine.

Anyway none of this crossed my mind as i stood staring at the gleaming slim machine with its comprehensive intrumention, and the only thing that struck me was how different the whole thing looked, from a Yamaha RX.

Apparently george has the reputation of one of the better riders out there; So no issues with Rony lending us the bike. We wheel the bike out, george gets on and me behind. kicks starts the thing and moves along the hostel road, along the main road which you see up up there and swings into the highway. Time is 9pm.

Now that Rony is way out of earshot, george gets into his natural game. This is a first for me - i have never been on a bike at anything more than 60; And that 60 flashes by in a few seconds as george downshifts two and whips open the throttle. The Suzuki responds beautifully, pulling us crisply into the 80s. The exhaust note is nothing like anything i have heard or bothered to listen so far; absolute music. george starts reading out the speeds - "70".."75"..."80"...

The scene of the speedo still lingers; The road is pitch dark ahead; Just the beam cutting through. See two circles bathed in red light, both needles steadling progressing clockwise. The whole scene is black of the night, yellow of the beam and the red of the two bathed meters and the shining numbers on the dial and the waving needle....Add the sound from the 140cc two stroke, the intakes and the exhaust, it was a scene which i had never been in. Got hooked right then.

"85" keeps on at the throttle.."90"...

We are entering a real bitch of a right turn, the road swinging violently to the right and then sharply to the left; george is busy looking at the needle...."95" "100"

We are into the turn before we know it and the road suddenly disappears to the right at an impossible angle.

He throws his weight to the right and so do i; At that speed we tilt the machine as much as it would go; Hardly enough. We turn right but maybe at one-tenth of the angle at which the road does;

george is still on the throttle; And the bike has left the road; I say my last prayers as i see that the we have lost the road and is roaring full blast into the grove of trees on the left side; Trees whizz past us missing by inches; The noise is tremendous, what with the bike doing full blast and through a bunch of thick set trees. I begin to think abt hospitals, after-life, wheelchairs, coma....I hear dead relatives beckon.

Suddenly the whole scene clears, no more trees whizz past us and the road which swerved to the right and away from us, comes back rushing from our right and we find ourselves back on tarmac - miraculous but the angle at which we exited the road was perfect to miss every single tree, catching the probably single straight passage through the dense trees and exit perfect enough to catch the road as it spun left...

And we the meter is still buried above 80.

We sweat like human geysers, and maybe slow down for a few seconds laughing like maniacs and savouring the truth that we are living still without a single scatch - Then george is back on the throttle; there we go again as the road picks up speed underneath us floating the same magic once more with music and dancing red needles and drunken beam..

The whole experience was like a drug. Does just what drug addiction does to you - adds a new dimension to your life; adds a new part of you. And erases any memory of this dimension ever not being a part of you....

Looking back i can see the how this first taste hooked in. The first shogun experience seemed to come alive with a new dimension; Though the shaolin was the key, the two experiences added up to an irresistable urge to own a shogun. If this a 'detuned version' of the shogun, i just wondered what the real thing was - I just had to get a shogun.

Which i did, in 1999. I still remember my anxiety when i rode the bike back home - Used to burst-balloons, I rather worried abt whether it will match the expectations planted by the Shaolin.

The roads werent good and i couldnt open the throttle much; The inital throttle response seemes to confirm my fears - The bike was a 93 model one, rather old. Though factory-wise more powerful than the Shaolin, i worried whether the old bike can come anywhere near the crispness and response put out by the shaolin. There was much slap from the 110 cc motor and this hardly helped my mood either.

And the bike did seem a bit sluggish. But then soon the road opened up. Almost hesitantly i opened up the throttle and As the 3rd gear began to climb revvs it was bitter disappointment at first; There was none of the shaolin response. There seemed to be a certian unstability abt every sound component, be it from the engine or the intakes or the muffler.

But the revvs began to build, build and as it began to move past 6k i began to realize that this was a beast way way different from the shaolin with totally different revv characteristics..Out came a monstrous power band lying incredibly high up the revvs, the rear wheel exploded into a buzz of activity and all those noise streams fused up and latched on to a single throaty blast and there was an awesome feeling of stupendous displacement...The bike just ripped through the 80s and left me with a speedo at 95 and a left foot with one more flip to go down. But caution took over and i chose the flip up. Deleted some of that speed and took my time as i gasped for air.

From then on all the way back home, i kept sampling that rush stuck so up the band; Even to this day it gets me out of the blues..

And the irony of it all: That maniac bastard who nearly got me killed twice - George - now lives a peaceful life. living alone with his guitar and an occassional bottle of beer and highly regular floyd stuff. With absolutely no interest whatsoever in bikes.

And latest update : The bugger has bought a Fiat 118NE for 37k and is drivin it around real cool.

And now its 2005.

The road is full of 4strokes. that 2stroke howl is fast fading away. its becoming rarer and rarer, that screaming 2stroke revving its way past triple digit speeds. 14bhp is no longer a wonder, what with the road full of 4strokes of every boring kind, most of them purring out at least 15bhp. A Shogun is just another extinct 2stroke, an inefficent fuel-guzzler from old times, capable of just 110kmph or 115kmph, that any new 4stroke can do and give a mileage of 55kmpl as well. and our old friend george is happily married and awaiting his first kid. C and Unix system calls are getting fast-forgotten, curses has been long buried, and its all abt java and dot-net and platform independence.

Like they say, how things have changed.

But somethings havent. i still luv C, luv Unix, code with curses. and i still ride a shogun - pretty much stock except for a modified swingarm. it struggles to touch 110, but i dont care. all kind of crazy bikes overtake me, but dont care. If am in a mood for killing some 4strokes, i always have the RD anyway. But i know. the RD wont last long either. its a time of changes, and 2strokes have to die. Amongst all this rush to a new future,there is something abt the shogun that reminds me of a good past, reminds of old dreams, of happy ignorances, crazy adventures and blissful carefreeness. Reminds me that while most things change, a few dont. :)

2005 March -

After 3-4 weekends of hardwork, my RD is back in good shape, perfect shape. it was out of commission for quite some time, and i had been postponing it. anyway now i have thrown away that shitty old points system and plugged in something thats more suited to the year we are in. a proper CDI system, and a full fledged wiring kit from an RX135. i will put up a HOWTO soon. anyway to cut a long story short, the bike is now kickass. and i have made up for those last few months of inferior existence by raping every cocky 4stroker i have met on the road the last few dsys. maybe a couple of days more, and then its time to rest the RD - properely this time, all covered up, till i again need a break.

2005 April -

Well jetting is a BITCH. the RD seemed to be moving fine, but on closer - ie, more stress - observation, it turned out that jetting was actually out by miles. strange how i didnt notice it; but it could be that the issue didnt exist then. whatever it thoroughly screwed my happiness for 3 weeks. simple issue, the right cylinder runs just way friggin rich. tried every damn thing from :

* cleaned the carbs
* tried at least 5 different float level settings
* replaced the main jet (140 mains) - just in case the jet size is out.
* replaced the pilot - just in case the pilot jet is out
* replaced the needle
* tried with needle clip in all slots
* replaced the needle jet
* cleaned and fingered every friggin hole in the damn carb

but heck nothing worked. in the end, i remembered one spare carb lying in the spares box and dug it up. found it covered in dust, lacking the pilot and main jet. anyway removed the right side carb from the bike, took out the main & pilot, shove them into the dusty old carb, plugged it in, started the bike and took it for a ride, and man does she fly. problem solved. dusty or not, it did the trick - but left me with a carb which has gone mysteriously bad. cant figure out what the hecks wrong. but anyway i have sadly decided to give up and run the spare carb. it needs to be cleaned, thats all.