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The mechanics of his mind


G. VENU sits working with a number of others at his cycle shop at Kochery Junction in West Kochi. The shop is well known and any passer-by will point it out to you. There are rows and rows of cycles of all descriptions on the road outside the shop and it looks like any other shop in this area. Yet this is the place where a number of extraordinary creations are put together, many of them quite popular, like the bike with unusual wheels which figures in films like `C.I.D. Moosa' and `Hariharan Pilla Happyannu.' In fact, in C.I.D. Moosa, a whole song sequence is picturised around it.

The shop belonged to his father, who before he started it about 35 years ago, was in the cycle-rickshaw business. Venu began working in his father's shop and went one step further by mixing entertainment with his work. He says that he has studied the working of cycles very carefully. Not only can he perform acrobatic antics with them but can also use them to make mathematical calculations. Here is an example. The old Mattancherry Bridge, he says is 485 metres long. How did he arrive at this figure? By calculating the distance through the number of rotations the cycle wheel makes as you ride. In this case a bike would make 97 rotations.


Venu has always been an enthusiastic participant at the Cochin Carnival rallies and has won numerous prizes including the coveted Mayor's Trophy for his floats. His prize-winning entries have featured varied subjects like Indian mythology or local and social history. Themes for his floats have included topics ranging from Ayurveda, Ramayana, to a typical village teashop. And many of these floats have won prizes too. He pays great attention to setting the stage and the scene right and he has a group of friends who share his interests and help him to put up the floats.

It was this enthusiasm for participation in the rally combined with his knowledge of, and love for cycles that urged Venu to try out his expertise in constructing a vintage model car. His working replica of a 1928 or 1930 Ford which he copied from a large poster, which is pasted in his shop is made mostly of cycle parts. Pipes and tin sheets have been used and the only car parts are the steering wheel and the windshield glass. Aircraft aluminium has been used to craft the seats because of its lightweight. A seat weighs only 2 kg and 350 gms. And it looks plush! It has a convertible top with hooter type brass horns on either side with a stepney tyre at the back. The kerosene lamps fitted on the sides have been procured from Chennai and there are authentic looking headlamps as well which can be operated by a small battery, which is fitted inside the car. The car, however, does not run on an engine and requires no fuel, for it has pedals like a cycle. It can be driven by one person or by all the four who can occupy it. It can, Venu says, achieve a speed of 35-40 kmph. Venu adds that he made it at his shop, which anyway handles work such as welding and painting. Most of the parts are handmade.

Venu has taken his family and friends for a drive and has used the car to help highlight social causes such as the protest meetings connected with the BOT Bridge.

The popularity of his cycles makes him feel that his car will also be a hit in films. If things work out well this car may soon be seen in a forthcoming Mamootty starrer. Johny Sagarika had visited his house to have a look at this car. And in the midst of talking of his plans for his cycle-car, Venu is already thinking it terms of his next novel project.

PRATIMA ASHER

Photo by Vipinchandran

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