While cycling back home from a morning cycling trip to the Bhubaneswar Golf Club, I passed a Luna overloaded with gunny sacks hanging on its slender sides, moving up a slope. I was slow, tired as I was from over an hour of cycling. But the Luna beat me. It was slower, decisively, moving up the slope with a painful grunt and a consummate unwillingness. The sight brought back several memories from the days gone by. The pre-liberalized India of DD Metros and Premier Padminis. Of Contessas and Maruti 1000s!
But yeah, Luna is a particularly fond memory etched forever in my then tender mind through the simplistic but catchy “Chal Meri Luna” ad that showed what a workhorse the anaemic Luna was. How it was willing to go anywhere you wanted to take it to. It was the first step to motorized transport for the pedalling masses of Bharat, the country of the aam aadmis (thanks Congress for making that word so popular!).
I remember wondering as a kid where the fuel went into in a Luna. Motorcycles had a fuel tank, but the Luna didn’t seem to have any. I remember the slender seats, almost as wide as my baby’s nappy pads. However, what intrigued me most about the vehicle was the presence of a pedal. You could pedal it away if you ever ran out of fuel! It was always an interesting sight. To see grown up men seemingly turn into toddlers. Pedalling a little puffed up cycle in the middle of the road, beaten sometimes by walking men.
That was also a time of joint ventures. India-Japan to be precise. Many vehicles had names in two parts. Ind-Suzuki, TVS-Suzuki, LML Vespa, Kawasaki Bajaj, and the still surviving Hero Honda. And then there were others. The Bajaj Chetaks, Supers and M80s (it looked like an illegal child of an intimate affair between a motorcycle and a scooter), Rajdoots (who can forget Dharmendra’s “Rajdoot ek jaandaar savaari, ek shaandaar savaari“), Avanti Garellis, Hero Puchs, Allwyns, Lambrettas and finally skeleton-on-wheels, the Bajaj Sunny, a toy fitted with a motor.
Those were the days!