A well-known name in Indian auto journalism, Adil Jal Darukhanawala has many automotive titles to his name. His latest accomplishment, The Forever Bike – a conspicuous reference to the catchphrase ‘Forever bike, forever value’ – may, at first, seem like a book that simply traces the history of Ideal Jawa – a firm that introduced Jawa motorcycles to India and gave us the Yezdi brand – at a time when the Indian two-wheeler market is witnessing the resurrection of Jawa bikes. However, it’s much more than that. It’s a celebration of the brand, its history, its importance, its loyalty to the Czech company and, above all, the passionate devotion of the people that the brand seems to have a claim over, even when it was out of existence in the Indian market.
The Forever Bike doesn’t merely document facts, it puts them into perspective, in the backdrop of the Indian milieu, and emphasises the emotional connect that the brand had, and still has, with the people of this country – for many of whom Jawas and Yezdis were not mere motorcycles, but a force that changed the face of Indian motorcycling forever.
The book begins where books usually begin – at the very beginning. But, interestingly, it not only begins with the beginning of the company but also the country, narrating how the automotive space in newly independent India was marked by the absence of companies engaged in the manufacturing or assembly of two-wheelers, which incidentally created a sort of vacuum that was soon filled by the combined efforts of the Irani uncle-nephew duo – Farrokh K Irani and Rustom S Irani – all the while giving us exceptional insight into the intricacies of both the Indian and international automotive scene.
In 1949, soon after India achieved its long-coveted independence, the Iranis set up Ideal Motors. The idea was to import licenced Jawa motorcycles, initially CZ too, from Czechoslovakia. But, in the early 1960s – almost a decade-and-a-half later – it turned into full-fledged production of Jawa motorcycles in Mysore. And, thus, began the journey of Ideal Jawa Ltd. A significant turn in the history of the company came when in 1971, owing to the Government rules, the company couldn’t sell a foreign brand. This gave way to what we know as the Yezdi. And the rest, as they say, is history.
The story of Ideal Jawa is an interesting one, and Adil’s take on it has made it even more interesting – something that can rarely be said about books of such nature and volume. The mere size of it – daunting, until you begin to read it – reflects the amount of exhaustive research that has gone into writing this book and documenting every minute detail of the company’s journey in the country. The book, however, is not just about information, it’s about telling a story, a rather engaging one, and it uses images to tell that story as much as it uses written words. Embellished with beautiful images – some of them capable of imbuing you with nostalgia, while others making your jaw drop in awe – the book is visually as captivating as it is historically informative and narratively engaging.
Structured in twenty-eight chapters, spread over 285 pages, the book follows the course of a Greek tragedy – a definitive beginning, middle and end – and recounts the story of the inception, evolution and tragic demise of Ideal Jawa, but not without a twist. Unlike Greek tragedies, the book ends with new hope, the rebirth of the brand, a new beginning – allowing for the possibility of a more hopeful future.
So, if you’re an enthusiast, or not, with an appetite for automotive history, or history in general, Adil’s The Forever Bike is a book that you wouldn’t want to miss.