What a wonderful experience it was to visit a car museum where an impressive array of vintage cars are exhibited under one roof! Yes, in the Sharjah Classic Car Museum one can see a huge collection of cars from the early years of the 20th century;from the early Ford T Model cars to a variety of other Ford cars, Chevrolets,Bentleys, Pontiacs, Cadillacs, Fiats, Benzes and so on.What is striking is the fact that the cars are kept in excellent running condition, immaculately painted with the metal parts shining. A Rolls-Royce Ecstasy is a great attraction. Then there is a Limousine type Benz 6oo Pullman and a French Citroen with a special hydraulic system and push button brakes! The names and models like Ford Mustang, Ben
As far as our own mode of transport was concerned, the fortunate among us owned bi-cycles, a few got them on hire. The rest made it by foot! Several cycle hiring shops were there which hired them at 12 paise(2 Annas)per hour for old ones and 18 paise to 25 paise per hour for newer ones.I belonged to the 2nd and 3rd category but I had the luxury of using my father’s Phillips bicycle on his off days. Among bicycles the coveted brands were the Raleigh and BSA even though the Humber and the Rudge were equally in demand. While these brands were costlier the most popular brand was the Phillips, known for its toughness and reasonable price. Another popular brand was ‘Hercules’ followed by ‘Atlas’.
A very interesting add-on to the bicycle was the light.The luxury light was the Miller dynamo and head light as it is not easily affordable. It is maintenance free, can be easily operated and threw enough light on the road at night.The most popular and cheap alternative was the cute SARDAR brand paraffin lamps. It used to have two small windows, red on one side and green on the other. As paraffin was not easily available a mixture of kerosene and coconut oil wasused as fuel. Riding a bicycle without light at night was as serious a traffic offence as riding double or riding on the right hand side of the road. Of course, the rules were strictly enforced too! Bicycles without chain covers, with half chain covers and with full chain covers called gearbox were also there.Those who could afford changed the ordinary factory fitted saddle for a comfortable BROOKS saddle! Hand pumps for filling air in the tubes inside the tyres were also there. Riding a bicycle in the rain with one hand and holding an open umbrella on the other was great fun!
I could, in course of time, own a bicycle, scooter and could ride the Royal Enfield Bullet on the M.G. Road of Bangalore. Years later while driving my car on the old beach road I remembered that it was once my dream to drive a car on the same road . But alas! I felt no joy , no thrill! Those old carefree days cannot be regained. I wondered where the old friends would be that moment.