The Decan Queen Express, which runs between Pune and Mumbai daily, has many unique distinctions. It was one of the fastest trains between the two cities. The only train in India to boast of a dining car. The first train to run with an electric locomotive. And many more. It is a giant of a name in the Indian Railway circles.
As seen throughout history, giants have an Achilles heel. They are destined to come across a giant slayer. Thus, giving rise to a legend.
In the case of the mighty Deccan Express, her nemesis was a petite, teeny-tiny, 50CC Kinetic Luna, a moped launched in the Indian markets in the early 1970s. It ruled the demands for a better part of the rest of the 20th century.
This vehicle has left a distinct impression on the Indian market and its psyche. Right from the quirky design to the distinctive style of starting it. On experiencing it once, one could always remember the process. Releasing the slightly inclined smaller lever just below the left brake while simultaneously working on the pedals reminiscent of the bicycle.
The Luna was one of the three popular choices for 50CC bikes, along with the Hero Puch and Bajaj M50. However, the Bajaj M50 was surpassed in popularity by its cousin, the Bajaj M80.
The latest gossip around the town is that the Luna may return to the markets in an electric avatar. Well, now that is news for which many Luna fans will be waiting with bated breath.
Oh! And I just remembered the race mentioned earlier. Legend has it that to prove the viability of the Luna, Kinetic decided it would take on the Deccan Express on her journey from Pune to Mumbai.
The Luna started from Pune station at the same time as the train. 7:20 AM. Mind you, this was an era before anyone had even imagined an expressway connecting the two cities that don’t allow travel of two-wheelers.
The Luna had to traverse the complex Bhor Ghat and its hairpin curves. Though the ghat descends after Khandala, only a few had expected the Luna to reach even Khandala, let alone that it would negotiate the ghat.
Amidst much fanfare, the race was shown the green light.
The Luna, which was not supposed to cross Lonavala, had left everyone pleasantly shocked by arriving a good 15 minutes before the arrival of the train at Dadar station, the destination of the race.
Since then, there has been no looking back for the Luna, which became a popular favourite with everyone enthusiastically saying ‘Chal Meri Luna’.